Preseason ranking disrespect adds more fuel to Jayden Daniels' fire

Jayden Daniels got himself some more bulletin board material.
Jayden Daniels
Jayden Daniels / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Jayden Daniels has captivated an entire fanbase quickly. The Washington Commanders were highly confident in the quarterback's potential to become a franchise-changing presence under center. It's an extremely small sample size up to now, but the early signs are incredibly positive.

Daniels has the electrifying traits and magnetic aura to make a real go of things. The Commanders need to surround the signal-caller with everything needed to thrive, but the improved infrastructure and solid personnel investments mean an upgrade over Sam Howell within a more balanced offensive attack is well within his capabilities.

Jayden Daniels ranked No. 28 in preseason QB rankings

The Heisman Trophy winner out of LSU is highly motivated to repay the faith shown in him by Adam Peters and other influential figures involved in Washington's draft process. Daniels also got some added motivation thanks to Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports and his preseason quarterback power rankings, which placed him at No. 28.

"His pairing of electric mobility and a solid, veteran-littered supporting cast may well mean an easier transition to the NFL than fellow rookies. But his wiry frame has also yet to endure an NFL snap."

While Daniels has to prove himself all over again in the pros, placing the dual-threat weapon so low seemed harsh, to put it mildly. Only Gardner Minshew, Bo Nix, Bryce Young, and Daniels Jones were below him in the standings. It was who Benjamin ranked above him that provoked heated discussion on social media.

Not only was former Commanders quarterback Jacoby Brissett ahead of him despite being a backup to Howell last season, but Benjamin also placed J.J. McCarthy above Daniels at No. 25. Looking at how the two signal-callers fared from a production standpoint in college, this seemed a remarkable conclusion to draw.

Daniels is probably aware of the ranking, but it won't mean much. It's more bulletin board material for the quarterback to go alongside the criticism he received pre-draft from those who thought his slender frame couldn't cope with NFL-caliber punishment. After reaching the pinnacle, this should also represent a stark reminder that anything he's accomplished previously counts for nothing now.

The Commanders know Daniels cannot do it alone. Kliff Kingsbury will scheme things to suit his strengths, but some serious questions remain around the offensive line and whether it can provide enough stability for the No. 2 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. If this unit fails to meet even modest objectives, the ramifications could be catastrophic.

Being mobile will compensate for some deficiencies. Establishing the running game more effectively than Eric Bieniemy managed to accomplish should also take some heat off Daniels during his initial transition. If everything clicks into place, there's a high chance the player will surge up Benjamin's quarterback rankings in double-quick time.

Tempering expectations for now would be prudent. The Commanders have been starved of success for some time, so it's easy to get carried away. But taking the rough with the smooth during Daniels' rookie campaign and keeping the bigger picture in mind would be the wisest course of action.

Daniels didn't need any extra motivation. That said, he doesn't have to look too far to find it.