Commanders rookie Jayden Daniels ‘can’t wait to get to work’ with his new team

ASHBURN, Va. — Jayden Daniels is a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback whose payoff for a highlight-reel final college football season was being selected second overall in the NFL Draft.

“Childhood dream came true,” the Washington Commanders’ newest first-round pick said on Thursday night, minutes after the life-altering moment.


Commanders draft Jayden Daniels: How he fits, pick grade and scouting intel

Yet Daniels, like the rest of the football-watching nation, remained in the dark about the organization’s plans for weeks and months. At times during the highly scrutinized process, it felt like years.

“They did a pretty good job of not showing their hand too much,” uttered Daniels with a comment that immediately entered the discussion for the understated quote of the year. He spoke with local reporters over Zoom from Detroit, the site of the 2024 draft.

Washington general manager Adam Peters wasn’t quiet about the 6-foot-3, 210-pound playmaker who has exceptional arm talent and “decisive” mobility.

“How is everyone doing?” Peters asked upon walking into his post-first-round news conference at the team’s Northern Virginia facility. With excitement coming through his pores, the first-time GM didn’t wait for a response before exclaiming, “Not as good as me.” When asked why Washington landed on Daniels, Peters jubilantly responded, “Why not Jayden?”

Though Peters felt no compulsion to rush the process should an unexpected enticement emerge, he acknowledged he and his staff “knew it was Jayden for a while.” This also wasn’t some pre-determined outcome by the former San Francisco 49ers assistant GM.

Peters previously said he wasn’t current on the incoming quarterback class since the NFC champions weren’t in that market. That meant the longtime scout’s initial exposure to Daniels from an evaluation standpoint began following his January hire. It sounds like the tape-watching was love at first sight.

“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe how good he was,” Peters remarked. “I saw him on TV, highlights. But when you really study him as a quarterback, just as a quarterback, he’s really, really good. The way he can process, the way he can see the field, go through reads, deliver (passes) on time, deliver with pressure in (his face), take a hit, deliver a third-down pass and move the chains. … (The) best deep ball thrower we thought in the draft.”

And to think public questioning emerged last week about whether the relationship hit a rough spot before it truly began. Confusion seemed to exist when Daniels’ “30” visit to the team’s headquarters became a group outing of four talented quarterbacks — Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr. and J.J. McCarthy were all picked in the first 10 selections — rather than the standard solo affair. Peters said Daniels never expressed any reservations to the team, and that conversations with people throughout the quarterback’s life found an “exemplary” person.

Knowing Peters was among the architects for one of the league’s best teams, Daniels boasted about their shared future with coach Dan Quinn.

“AP, he’s a dude,” Daniels said on Thursday. “He was with the 49ers recently. What they do over there is tremendous — how they compete, they’re contenders. I’m very confident in him that he can get this thing changed around, and (I’ll) follow his lead.”

Washington isn’t close to finishing the draft. The Commanders have eight selections remaining, including five picks on Friday. They tried acquiring a second first-round pick to select an offensive tackle, a league source told The Athletic. Peters said calls were made, but the right opportunity didn’t materialize.

Daniels, 23, displayed unbelievable growth in his second year with LSU. The Arizona State transfer had never thrown more than 17 touchdowns, passed for 3,000 yards or rushed for over 1,000 yards in his initial four seasons. Then he went for 40 touchdown passes, 3,812 passing yards and 1,134 rushing yards in 2023 alone while playing in the SEC.

Using virtual reality technology in practice combined with an insatiable work ethic and athleticism pushed Daniels to the next level. Peters lauded Daniels’ rushing chops, specifically a “slashing” ability that maximizes his speed. “He’s very decisive when he runs. You have to be decisive, and in this league … (NFL defenders) are big and fast … they run as fast as you.”



Commanders NFL Draft picks 2024: Grades, fits and scouting reports

There’s no denying the pressure for all involved. Washington hasn’t solved this position, having used 27 starting quarterbacks this century. Instability increased when Kirk Cousins left in 2017. Peters said he’s not fretting over the young man succumbing to the attention. “He’s built to handle all of this, and that’s on and off the field. He’s a very mature young man.”

Daniels’ emerging capability meshes with offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury’s up-tempo approach. The former Arizona Cardinals head coach found success at times with another agile though shorter quarterback, Kyler Murray. “(Kliff) had Kyler in the MVP conversation,” Daniels mentioned. “I was excited to be able just to chop it up and talk ball with them.”

That and other conversations made Daniels feel confident about his new situation now that Peters finally showed his hand. “I’m here now,” Daniels said. “I can’t wait to get to work.”

Veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota will be among those working with the rookie when Washington begins its offseason program.

“I’m just coming in to compete,” Daniels said to local reporters minutes after being selected No. 2 overall. “I’m going to come in … just trying to play my role, whatever that is.”

Here’s a spoiler about that role. The starting quarterback gig is Daniels’ for the taking, and Washington’s top talent evaluator is thrilled to see him take on the challenge.

Scoop City Newsletter

Scoop City Newsletter

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

BuyBuy Scoop City Newsletter

(Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top