Commanders Rookie Cornerback Details Expectations With Washington


The Washington Commanders’ 2024 NFL Draft class — highlighted by No. 2 overall pick and Heisman-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels — is widely considered as a success. They got a steal of a pick with defensive tackle Jar’Zhan Newton at pick No. 36.

An underrated pick of the Commanders’, though, is Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil at pick No. 50. There’s a very real chance the 5-foot-10, 182-pound defensive back is starting in the slot day one for the Commanders defense. After being drafted by Washington, the National Championship-winning defensive back had the opportunity to explain to fans what to expect from his game.

“I’m definitely just the complete package. I grew up watching football a certain way, and that’s, that’s the brand of football I still play to this day, very, very instinctual. I’m a complete football player,” Sainristil explained. “Whatever’s asked of me, I’m going to do. Whatever the coaches need me to do, I will do to my best ability. I’m a guy that’s looking to make an impact on the field, wherever that is. Doesn’t matter to me whether it’s special teams, defense and even offense. So, wherever I’m needed, whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m going to do it. I’m bringing leadership and I’m bringing a winning mindset.”

After completing a 15-0 season with the Michigan Wolverines en route to a National Championship victory, it’s proven Sainristil is going to play winning football. He totaled 44 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions (two touchdowns) and six passes defended during the title-winning campaign.

With the Commanders looking to turn things around after a 4-13 season, bringing in proven winners willing to do whatever is absolutely the way to go. Even then, Sainristil knows where he is best fit within the defense, preferring to play in the slot.

“Yeah, I want to play inside. That’s where I make my money. That’s where I’m very comfortable. I have the flexibility to play anywhere on the field, outside corner,” Sainristil explained. “And I have the knowledge to play safety as well. So again, whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m going to do. But, put me in that slot, put me in that slot corner, let me go cause havoc.”

Again, Sainristil is the ideal draft pick. He’s eager to learn and develop while understanding where he’s best going to produce within the defense. He’s a selfless winner capable of making huge plays. With Washington heading into a new era, Sainristil is a seamless fit both on the field and as a personality.

“100 percent. I’m ready to be coached up very well. Ready to take all the coaching, all the gems, all the constructive criticism,” Sainristil said. “I’m ready for the hard days as well. It’s not going to be easy every single day. And I’m just ready to be coached by a great group of guys and ultimately have success with this group. So, I’m super excited.”

There is no lack of hunger for the new Commanders cornerback. Overall, the franchise seems to not have only added incredible contributors on the field, but talents that have personalities built to improve and shift the culture in the nation’s capital. Sainristil is going to help transform the team’s culture and coming in ready to work will help him prolong his NFL career and eventually earn a second contract.

“I would say the future’s very bright. I’ve only been playing the position for two years, so to me there’s a lot of upside,” Sainristil said. There’s a lot of excitement knowing that I’ve only been doing this for two years. I’m only going to continue to get better, continue to reach new goals.”

Not only is the future bright for the rookie cornerback, who has a huge opportunity to improve during OTA’s and training camp, but for the entire team, which has had a shift of energy since the draft. There’s going to be a new narrative surrounding Washington and they could be a real threat in the NFC East this fall.

Stick with CommanderGameday for more coverage of the Washington Commanders throughout the 2024 season. Follow Kade on Twitter.

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