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Dotson: Jayden Daniels 'the quarterback that I wanted'


Players don't normally get a say in who their team adds to the roster. The Washington Commanders' new front office and coaching staff didn't ask for an opinion from Terry McLaurin, one of the franchise's best receivers and a captain, on drafting Jayden Daniels at No. 2 overall. So, if they're not asking him, then no one else is giving their two cents.

But if they had asked 2022 first-round pick Jahan Dotson, they would have liked the answer.

"I don't know if I can say this, but that's the quarterback that I wanted," Dotson said with a smile.

Dotson would have been happy with any quarterback the Commanders took in the draft but playing with Daniels brought more of an appeal for him compared to the rest of the quarterbacks in the class. The two already had an existing relationship, and Dotson was one of the first Washington players to congratulate him back in April.

Now, for the first time in their careers, they get to combine their skill sets on the same offense.

"I was happy when we drafted him," Dotson said. "I'm really looking forward to...furthering our relationship."

Dotson and Daniels' relationship goes back to 2022, when the wideout was preparing for the NFL Draft. Daniels was playing for Arizona State at the time and trained with Dotson as he began his path towards eventually being taken by the Commanders with the 19th overall pick.

The two kept in touch once Dotson joined the NFL, and while Dotson was learning how to be a professional, Daniels became one of the best players in college football at LSU, winning the Heisman Trophy as well as shattering FBS and program records.

"It was really cool to team up and go at it this year," Dotson said of playing for Washington together.

Dotson, who recorded 2,757 yards at Penn State and 1,041 yards in his first two seasons with the Commanders, has already left a strong impression on Daniels. The quarterback said Dotson was "a real smooth route runner and fast" -- two traits that Dotson has shown from his first rookie minicamp practice two years ago.

Now, Dotson and Daniels' chemistry needs to evolve beyond having a good feel for each other while running routes on air. They must be able to work in sync with each other within the confines of the offense and build a stronger layer of trust that was established when they trained together. Dotson needs to show that he can be a reliable target, and Daniels needs to put his faith in Dotson's ability to keep the chains moving.

Luckily for them both, that's what this time of year is for.

Asked about the most important part of establishing chemistry with his quarterbacks, Dotson said, "Building a relationship outside of the football field, getting to know each other, getting to know what your quarterback likes to do. And then, just talking through things in the film room."

The biggest thing that will speed up the process: reps, and lots of them.

"Reps on the field is probably the best way that we're gonna build a connection."

Take a look from the war room to the draft stage in Detroit and the touch down in Ashburn as the Washington Commanders take Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Daniels, considered the quarterback of the future, has not been officially named the Commanders' starting quarterback as the team tries to gradually prepare him for that role. The staff is still making sure he gets plenty of time with all his pass-catchers using simultaneous seven-on-seven drills that allow him and veteran Marcus Mariota get the same number of snaps.

Though he's admittedly still learning the offense, Daniels has looked the part of a No. 2 overall pick, showing poise in the pocket, solid footwork and precise ball placement. He's also earned some strong endorsements from his teammates with fellow rookie Luke McCaffrey calling him "a stud" and guard Sam Cosmi praising his athleticism.

None of that has come as a surprise to Dotson.

"He's been good so far," Dotson said of Daniels. "He's only been here a couple days now, but he has big things coming for him."

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