Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Jayden Daniels earning respect from veteran teammates


Jonathan Allen is a pro's pro at this point in his seven-year career. The two-time Pro Bowler works harder than most, and he prides himself on being one of the first players in the building every day.

Lately, however, he's had to get in line behind No. 2 pick Jayden Daniels.

"He always beats me here," Allen said. "I think that's pretty cool. He stays late. He does everything you want out of your No. 2 overall pick."

Daniels was drafted to be the Washington Commanders' quarterback of the future, hopefully putting an end to the two-decade struggle the franchise has gone through to find an answer at the position. He has yet to be officially named the starter for the 2024 season because the staff wants to slow play his development and avoid putting too much on the former LSU signal-caller at once. In other words, he needs to earn it, not just from his coaches, but also his new teammates.

It's still early, but Daniels' veteran teammates like what they're seeing from the rookie.

"He really, really cares about this thing," said tight end Zach Ertz. "He wants to be as good as he can possibly be. He's working his butt off.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders taking the field for the second week of OTAs.

Daniels' teammates know he has the talent to be taken so highly in the draft and be in the NFL. He hasn't taken many reps with the starters so far -- Marcus Mariota is in that role for now -- but have seen his arm talent from the sideline and watched him befuddle defense with his legs in college.

But there are several players with elite talent who have either washed out of the league or devolved into career backups. More is required of quarterbacks, particularly Heisman Trophy winners who are taken with one of the first two picks. They must fulfill all the old cliches of being the first in the building and last to leave, developing relationships with every position group and putting in the extra work to know the playbook better than anyone.

Daniels has checked off all the boxes through the first month of his NFL career. Ertz said Daniels does "a lot of work behind the scenes" to make sure he's prepared for the upcoming season, and the tight end isn't the only one who's noticed.

"I think he really moves well, throws the ball well and for a young guy that's coming in, seems to really like command the offense and I think that's important," Mariota said. "I think that's very important in the quarterback position to be able to like stand in front of these guys, especially older players, and kind of nail it and say, 'I got this, I got it figured out.' So, I think he's done a great job of that."

Linebacker Bobby Wagner also sees the potential. He's been impressed with the throws Daniels has made in seven-on-seven drills, but what's stuck out to him more is the other work the quarterback is doing to prepare himself. Whether it's working out or studying in the film room, Daniels has made sure to spend extra time in the building to make sure he's ready to start, whenever that may be.

"That's the thing you look for as a vet, somebody that wants it," Wagner said. "He's definitely that guy."

There are a few players on Washington's roster who know about the pressure and expectations that come with being a top pick. One of them is Mariota, who the Tennessee Titans drafted No. 2 overall in 2015. Mariota was also expected to fix a lingering quarterback issue in Tennessee, which had struggled with Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger lining up under center.

Daniels seems to be handling the responsibility that comes with being a No. 2 pick, but Mariota also knows that he and Daniels' coaches need to be available for the young quarterback if he needs help.

"I can provide a little bit of comfort knowing that you [need to] be your best version of yourself," Mariota said in March. "Don't worry about everything else. Don't worry about the expectations. Just go out there and try to get better every day and the rest of it will fall into place."

Clelin Ferrell, the No. 4 overall pick by the Raiders in 2019, gave Daniels similar advice. He's not a quarterback, but he knows what it's like to have most of the attention placed on him as a young player.

"Don't be afraid to be great," Ferrell said. "You set the standard, you set the tone for how you want to approach this. You don't have to ask anyone to do extra, you don't have to ask anyone to be a leader. You just be yourself and be the same person."

That sounds a lot like what Daniels said he wanted to do with his new team the day after he officially joined the Commanders.

"Just show up every day and be myself," Daniels said. "Earn the respect of the guy by working hard. I consider myself a hard worker, and it shows. That's how I'm going to win over and earn the respect of my teammates."

Related Content