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2024 NFL Draft Grades | Analysts hail Commanders for picking 'game-changer' at No. 2  

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The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinion of the team.

With their first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Commanders added a duel-threat signal-caller to their roster by selecting LSU QB Jayden Daniels, and the decision has received praise from analysts around the league.

Most expected the Commanders to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick on Night 1 as the position has been, to put it mildly, a major pain point for the franchise for a handful of years. While mocks a dozen speculated on who Washington's brass might choose with No. 2, it was mostly narrowed down to a small handful of guys, and Daniels was a name, specifically, that kept being associated with the Burgundy & Gold.

And for good reason. He has all the traits a team looking for a franchise quarterback would salivate over, including deep-ball accuracy, the ability to make plays with his legs, a great football IQ, leadership qualities, a one-of-a-kind work ethic, the list goes on. As general manager Adam Peters put it simply in his presser last night: "To us, he was special in every way on and off the field."

Here's how the draft pundits graded the move:

Analysis: "The ascension of Daniels during his senior season led to this moment. The inconsistency shown through his career at Arizona State and LSU disappeared, especially in the second half of the season, when his decisiveness in the pocket allowed throws to hit their targets and his elusiveness and speed as a runner caused defenses major headaches. The hope is Daniels continues to add weight to his frame as he matures, which would make him even stronger in the pocket to use his arm to distribute the ball to Commanders receivers Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin."

Analysis: "I love this pick. It's a great situation for a rookie. The team has a new owner, coach and now quarterback. They can grow together. He will be the best QB in this class."

Analysis: "The reigning Heisman Trophy winner offers a dazzling combination of slithery scrambling ability and deep-ball accuracy that make him a nightmare to defend. He is a polarizing prospect among scouts due to his relatively slim frame and the fact that his production at LSU was undeniably boosted by an exceptional receiving corps, but Daniels was a game-changer even back at Arizona State and consistently progressed throughout college. For a defensive-minded head coach like Dan Quinn, it is easy to understand why the Commanders see Daniels' maturity and dual-threat ability as the perfect leader for Washington's rebuild."

Take a look at the moment the Washington Commanders informed Jayden Daniels that he would be their No. 2 overall pick. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Analysis: "The Commanders made the right choice over Drake Maye given Daniels can be like Lamar Jackson with his running ability and big-play passing. That lines up well with new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who made the most out of Kyler Murray in Arizona early. Daniels has a high athletic ceiling as a fellow Heisman winner to Williams.

Analysis: "Daniels won the Heisman trophy after a tremendous 2023. His speed pops off the field, but his pocket presence, accuracy and touch is a huge strength. He'll need to learn to protect himself as a runner more in the NFL, but if he can stay healthy, he's a great start to a new era in Washington. His ability as a runner should help him keep the offense moving while he adjusts to the NFL. This was a no-brainer pick as the Commanders get their man."

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

Analysis: "Daniels has enjoyed a meteoric rise throughout the last year, going from a pro afterthought to a top choice. Last year with LSU, Daniels totaled 50 touchdowns (throwing for 40) while earning the Heisman Trophy."

"In Washington, Daniels inherits a team with a revamped offensive line along with a top receiver in Terry McLaurin. However, he also takes on a franchise starved for success, being run by entirely new personnel from ownership to the coaching staff. Big changes for all involved."

Analysis: "The Commanders needed a QB who could provide some pop, and Daniels does that. He's a big play waiting to happen with his arm and legs, and those explosive plays will work well with Kliff Kingsbury. I have a lot of questions about his ability to mitigate taking massive shots as a runner and passer, and his ability to throw over the middle, but he won't be asked to do so in Washington. This is a good pick."

Analysis: "Make no mistake, this is a plenty exciting move for Washington to kick-start a new day under Dan Quinn and Adam Peters. But this might not necessarily be the safe pick some deem it to be. The Heisman Trophy winner can be an electric presence behind center. Still, Daniels needs to speed up his processing and learn to attack the middle of the field more often. Above all, it's on the Commanders to leverage his scintillating running skills and ability to pick apart defenses from the pocket while keeping him off a Justin Fields-like trajectory in the early portion of his career."

Analysis: "No prospect had a greater rise throughout the 2023 campaign than LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels.

The Arizona State transfer showed improvement upon joining the Tigers in 2022. But he erupted for a Heisman Trophy-winning performance this past fall. Daniels threw for 3,812 yards, ran for 1,134 more and contributed 50 total touchdowns during his final year on campus.

On top of being an experienced upperclassman, Daniels received help from what amounts to a quarterback "flight simulator" coordinated by LSU's director of performance innovation, Jack Mariucci, which allowed more mental reps in game-like scenarios.

"It kind of put him in a visualization," LSU quarterback coach Joe Sloan told The Athletic's Alec Lewis. "I think it's just about making decisions. Make a decision. Make a decision. Make a decision. It was an opportunity to sit there and make a lot of decisions in a short amount of time, and you're not sweating. It's huge."

As Daniels progressed as a passer, his athleticism unlocked his full potential, as defenses couldn't handle both phases of his game. The 6'4", 210-pound dual-threat option takes some wicked hits and needs to protect himself better in the NFL, though.

LSU's offense also didn't allow Daniels to consistently work the middle of the field, which is an area where he'll need to continue improving. Otherwise, the reigning AP College Football Player of the Year should be an instant weapon in the NFL.

"I tell people this: Outside of Patrick Mahomes, I haven't coached against someone like this," an FBS opponent told The Athletic's Bruce Feldman about Daniels. "He's just very hard to defend. We tried to force him to run it to take it out of his hands. The throws he makes and the timing he has, I thought was second to none. He throws the deep ball extremely accurately."

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