ESPN Reverses Course on Commanders, Heisman Winner

Jayden Daniels

Getty LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels.

The back-and-forth over whether or not LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels was sold on playing for the Washington Commanders at the No. 2 overall seemingly came to an end on Friday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reversed course on comments he made Thursday that Daniels might be interested in playing for a team other than the Commanders, who have the No. 2 overall pick.

The confusion stemmed from the Commanders hosting a group visit for four quarterbacks that included Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

Daniels’ agent, Ron Butler, liked several tweets critical of the Commanders’ decision to host all four quarterbacks at once which sparked several reports of Daniels souring on Washington.

“… I think (Daniels) thought that he was going to get more face time there than he actually did,” Schefter said on Friday. “It didn’t work out exactly that way, but Jayden Daniels knows that he can’t control where he goes in the draft and his opinion doesn’t matter where he wants to go. It’s all up to the team. Right now, Jayden Daniels is prepared to go wherever he’s drafted. Most people still believe it continues to be number two to the Washington Commanders. That still looks to be the favorite spot, but because of some speculation this past week, people wondering whether he would go, whether they would take him.

“The fact of the matter is, Jayden Daniels knows that he’s not a free agent here, he has to go where he’s drafted and if it does turn out to be Washington, as a lot of people still believe, he’s prepared to go to Washington and be a Commander and try to be the face of the franchise that many coaches believe he will be.”

Few Rookies Have Been Able to Choose Teams

Daniels trying to force his way out of playing for a certain team would have been unprecedented for a No. 2 overall pick. It’s almost unprecedented for a No. 1 pick.

Twice in modern NFL history, quarterbacks that were going to be selected No. 1 overall forced the hand of the teams that wanted them at that spot.

In 1983, Stanford’s John Elway said he would not play for the Baltimore Colts, who selected him at No. 1 then traded him to the Denver Broncos.

In 2004, Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning said he would not play for the San Diego Chargers, who selected him at No. 1 then traded him to the New York Giants.

In 1986, Auburn running back Bo Jackson told the team with the No. 1 pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that he would not play for them. In that case, the Buccaneers still selected Jackson and lost his rights one year later.

Daniels Could Change Fortunes for Commanders

Daniels, 6-foot-4 210 pounds, was the second Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to come out of LSU in the last five years, following 2019 winner Joe Burrow.

“With five seasons of starting experience under his belt, Daniels possesses a rare blend of playmaking talent and command from the pocket,” wrote NFL analyst Lance Zierlein. “He’s tall but slender, so there will be concerns about durability, considering how often he ran in college. However, teams must also recognize that he has no issues sitting in the pocket and working through progressions as a platform thrower with good mechanics and footwork.”

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