Commanders Rookie Talks Path to Being Week 1 Starter

Jayden Daniels

Getty Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels at the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Washington Commanders didn’t draft LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels at No. 2 overall for him to sit and learn on the sideline — there’s not even a quarterback on the roster who started a game for the franchise last season.

But nothing is certain, which Daniels was quick to point out when asked about being the Commanders’ Week 1 starter on the All Facts No Brakes podcast with former NFL wide receiver and 1996 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson.

“Do I anticipate (starting Week 1)? I mean, I’m confident in my abilities, but that’s a decision that they’ve got to make,” Daniels said. “That’s above me … They didn’t tell me, ‘Oh, you’ve got to start Week 1.’ They just said, ‘Whenever you’re ready, you’re ready. Whenever you feel ready, we feel you’re ready, we’re gonna throw you out there.’ ”

Daniels won the Heisman Trophy for LSU in 2023 after having one of the greatest seasons for a dual-threat quarterback in college football history with 3,812 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and 4 interceptions to go with 1,134 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

What is Commanders’ Backup Plan at Quarterback?

The Commanders can’t put all of their eggs in one basket at quarterback, no matter how much faith they have in Daniels and his abilites.

One look at the roster shows they’re making sure there’s a backup plan in place.

The Commanders carried five quarterbacks into offseason workouts; Daniels, Marcus Mariota, Jeff Driskel, Jake Fromm and undrafted free agent Sam Hartman.

Mariota seems to be the best equipped to fill in for Daniels if the Commanders don’t feel comfortable starting him Week 1 or as his backup. Mariota also has some experience he could impart — he was the No. 2 overall pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2015.

Mariota flamed out in Tennessee, going 29-32 over five seasons as a full-time or part-time starter. Mariota has a career record of 34-40 as a starter with the Titans and Falcons and spent another three seasons as a backup with the Las Vegas Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

Driskel is with his eighth team in nine seasons and has gone 1-11 as a starter, with 2,394 career passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Fromm went 0-2 as a starter for the New York Giants in 2021 and is with his third team in five seasons.

Daniels May Already Seem Like Veteran QB

One thing Daniels isn’t lacking is experience as a starting quarterback.

Daniels started 55 games across five college football seasons, with three at Arizona State followed by two at LSU. He will turn 24 years old in December.

He’s also not the only rookie who could find themselves starting for the Commanders in Week 1 after the franchise went 3-14 in 2023. has cornerback and second-round pick Mike Sainristil (No. 50 overall) listed as the starter at nickelback and wide receiver and third-round pick Luke McCaffrey listed as the starter if the Commanders begin games in a three wide receiver set.

Sports Illustrated Matt Verderame gave the Commanders an “A+” in his post-draft grades.

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