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2023 No. 2 pick C.J. Stroud sees bright future for Jayden Daniels


From one No. 2 overall pick to another, Jayden Daniels has a bright future in the NFL.

Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud was one of the biggest surprises last season, taking a team that many believed had one of the worst rosters in the league from last in the AFC South to winning the division and making it to the divisional round of the playoffs. He had the fifth-most single-season passing yards in franchise history, which helped him earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors from the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers' Association.

No one is saying Daniels is a lock to replicate that feat with the Washington Commanders, who took the former LSU quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick last night, but Stroud sees common threads between the two.

"I feel like Jayden's situation is a little similar to mine," Stroud said during the Bleacher Report's coverage of the 2024 NFL Draft.

It isn't hard to see what Stroud is talking about. Prior to taking him at No. 2 in 2023, the Texans struggled mightily with a 3-13-1 record. They ranked near the bottom on offense and defense, giving up 379.5 yards per game while scoring just 17 points per game. Just as the Commanders did in 2022, the Texans also had quarterback struggles with Davis Mills, Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel all taking snaps.

The Texans went through a massive overhaul last offseason, hiring a defensive-minded head coach in DeMeco Ryans and pairing him with offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik. They brought in veterans like Dalton Schultz, Devin Singletary and Robert Woods -- players who aren't long term options but did make the roster better -- before taking Stroud last April.

That should sound familiar to what the Commanders have done in the last few months. They hired Dan Quinn -- a defensive head coach -- and paired him with Kliff Kingsbury to lead an offense that already had playmakers in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson before adding players like Austin Ekeler and Zach Ertz.

Check out the top photos of Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels from his days at LSU and Arizona State. (Photos via The Associated Press)

Stroud took his opportunities and became one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL. He guided the Texans to their first winning season since 2019, completing 63.9% of his passes for 4,108 yards -- eighth most in the NFL last season -- and throwing 23 touchdowns to five interceptions.

We'll see how Daniels handles his rookie season, especially with an offensive line that is going through a revamp, but Stroud has high hopes for him. Two reasons for that optimism: McLaurin and Dotson, both of whom are quick, speedy receivers that know how to get open with their route running and have reliable hands.

"They're so underrated as a duo," Stroud said. "Dotson is nice. And they're gonna have a good running back with Brian Robinson ... He'll make some of those O-linemen right."

Daniel comes to Washington as one of the most successful dual threat quarterbacks in college football. He had 2,329 rushing yards over the last two seasons, which is 770 more than the next quarterback. He also has 34 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Daniels' ability to do more with his legs is an advantage that Stroud doesn't have, and it played a role in the Commanders taking him last night.

"The way he runs, we talk about it kind of takes your soul as a defense," said general manager Adam Peters. "You think you got him and then all of a sudden, he rips off a 40-yard run, and this is against the SEC. This isn't against some lower competition."

There is going to be a mountain of expectations placed on Daniels as the quarterback for a franchise that hasn't had a concrete answer at the position in recent memory. None of that is coming from Daniels himself, though, as he just wants to fit whatever role he needs and "put it all out there on the line" for his teammates.

And while the Commanders have made sure the pressure isn't all going to be on Daniels to revitalize the franchise, they are certainly excited about him.

"I honestly couldn't believe how good he was and saw him on tv, saw him on highlights and everything," Peters said. "But when you really study him as a quarterback, just as a quarterback, he's really, really good."

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