Commanders select top quarterback prospect with No. 2 pick, hope to solve QB woes

The Commanders have not had a single quarterback start the majority of their games for two seasons in a row since Kirk Cousins did so in 2016 and 2017. Since then, the team has seen Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz and Sam Howell all start games under center in Washington. While the trend of consecutive seasons is set to continue 2024, the Commanders will hope to put an end to that trend by drafting Jayden Daniels, quarterback out of LSU.

Commanders select top QB prospect with No. 2 pick

While Daniels was linked heavily to the Raiders, due to his history with new head coach Antonio Pierce during their time at Arizona State, it’s Washington who walks away from Day 1 of the draft with the 23-year-old on their roster. Pierce and the Raiders reached out late to inquire about a possible trade up to the No. 2 overall spot, but despite their efforts, no trade transpired. There were also rumors that Daniels would refuse to play for Washington and could force a trade, but the LSU quarterback denied those rumors, and he will head to the nation’s capital to compete with Howell for the starting job.

Daniels started his college career at Arizona State, where he became the first ever true freshman to start the season opener for the Sun Devils. After a COVID-19 pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Daniels struggled in his third year in Tempe, resulting in his transfer to Baton Rouge. At LSU, Daniels was back to his old self and more. In 2022, he matched his impressive freshman passing stats while leading the country in rushing yards for a quarterback.

This past year, Daniels not only improved his rushing prowess, running for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns on only 135 carries, but he also showed a stark improvement in his passing abilities. After previously failing to surpass 3,000 passing yards or 20 touchdowns, Daniels completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 3,812 yards and an incredible 40 touchdowns while only getting intercepted four times. He finished 2023 seventh in the FBS in completion percentage, fifth in passing yards, first in passing yards per attempt, second in passing touchdowns, and first in rating. He also, once again, led the nation’s quarterbacks in rushing yards. These impressive efforts resulted in Daniels being awarded the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien Award (awarded to the NCAA’s best quarterback).

In Washington, Daniels will now have the opportunity to compete with Howell for the starting job. Howell led the Commanders to a 4-13 record in his first season as a full-time starter. While he was able to amass 3,946 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns, he and the team’s struggles were highlighted by Howell leading the NFL in pass attempts (612), interceptions (21) and sacks taken (65).

Daniels will also be inherited by a new coaching staff that includes former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the new head coach. Daniels’ new mentor, though, will be new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury who famously brought up Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech before handling Kyler Murray‘s first few seasons in Arizona. It will be interesting to see if the Commanders make Daniels earn the starting job in a position battle, or if they decide to instill their confidence in him by announcing him as the future at the position.

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