Leading analyst outlines reasoning behind Commanders draft curveball

Nothing should be off the table as Washington's new era dawns...

Jayden Daniels
Jayden Daniels / Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

A leading analyst laid out his reasoning behind throwing a potential Washington Commanders curveball at No. 2 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft.

There are a multitude of different options for the Washington Commanders in pursuit of solving their quarterback conundrum. Considering new general manager Adam Peters' intent to build through the draft, acquiring one of the top-level prospects from No. 2 overall seems like a realistic course of action.

Much will depend on what the Chicago Bears do with the No. 1 pick - one they acquired by trading down with the Carolina Panthers in 2023. Caleb Williams seems to be the consensus, but the possibility of moving forward with Justin Fields cannot be dismissed either.

Peters and the front office staff will do their due diligence on every signal-caller emerging from the college ranks. They need to prepare for every eventuality. The opinion of Washington's incoming head coach - possibly Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson - will also carry a lot of weight.

Commanders draft Jayden Daniels in Mel Kiper Jr.'s mock

An enormous sense of anticipation from the draft community emerged earlier today (Tuesday) as ESPN's legendary analyst Mel Kiper Jr. published his first mock. He had Williams going to the Bears as expected. But instead of the Commanders going with North Carolina hotshot Drake Maye, the pick was Jayden Daniels. However, there was also an acknowledgment that anything is possible at this juncture.

"With Washington getting an opportunity to take the No. 2 quarterback here, why did I go with [Jayden] Daniels? The reigning Heisman Trophy winner improved so much in 2023, throwing 40 touchdown passes to just four interceptions while going up against a tough SEC schedule. In December, I went deep on his strengths, weaknesses and future, so you can see my full thoughts on his game there. The bottom line is it's tight between Daniels and Maye on my board, but Daniels would be an tremendous fit for a Washington roster that has some young playmakers on offense. Maye's inconsistency at the end of the season is enough for me to put Daniels at No. 2. The reality, though, is the Commanders just hired their new general manager and still don't have a coach, so there's a lot to figure out about which direction they go."

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Jayden Daniels / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Daniels arguably helped his stock more than any quarterback during the 2023 season. The LSU prospect was nothing short of electrifying from start to finish. It wasn't enough to see the Tigers make their long-awaited return to the college football playoffs, but the signal-caller mesmerized consistently to secure the coveted Heisman Trophy.

There is a lot to like about the skill set Daniels brings to the table. His pocket navigation is first-class. He can make every throw at all three levels of the field. He's creative and able to improvise when a specific play isn't developing as anticipated. He's a threat to take off and gain significant yards on the ground when given the chance.

Some mechanical issues need resolving to maximize Daniels' potential. Much has also been made about the player's lack of bulk, but this isn't a genuine concern when one considers he's just one pound lighter than soon-to-be two-time NFL MVP Lamar Jackson when he entered the league out of Louisville.

As Kiper rightfully said, there are a lot of moving parts in Washington to say with any conviction which way they're leaning. Thankfully for fans, they have the absolute right man at the helm in Peters, who's been a leading general manager candidate for years. This provides a level of confidence in the front office that hasn't been seen for decades.

If the pick is Daniels, the Commanders should trust Peters' thought process. If Johnson also comes on board as head coach, this represents a tremendous situation for any rookie quarterback.

Exciting times ahead.

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