Commanders select Heisman Trophy-winning LSU QB Jayden Daniels with the 2nd pick in the NFL draft – WTOP News

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The Washington Commanders selected Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels with the second pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

NFL Draft Football LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels celebrates after being chosen by the Washington Commanders with the second overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

NFL Draft Football LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Washington Commanders with the second overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Jayden Daniels LSU Quarterback Jayden Daniels celebrates after being chosen by the Washington Commanders with the second overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2024 in Detroit. (Jeff Lewis/AP Images for the NFL)

Jeff Lewis/AP Images for the NFL

NFL Draft Football LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels celebrates beside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Washington Commanders with the second overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

NFL Draft Football LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels puts on a hat after being chosen by the Washington Commanders with the second overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Jayden Daniels was not sure the Washington Commanders would call his name, after months of questions about which quarterback they wanted. He’s glad they did.

Washington selected Daniels with the second pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night, choosing the Heisman Trophy winner out of LSU over North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Michigan national champion J.J. McCarthy. Unlike Chicago leading off with Caleb Williams as expected, the Commanders kept everyone, including the AP’s college football player of the year, in suspense until the last moment.

“They did a pretty good job of not showing their hand too much,” Daniels said. “But I was pretty confident based off the conversations that we had that I was able to come here and fit into the Commanders team. I’m here now. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Daniels had for quite some time been the favorite to go to the Commanders, though buzz over the past week put that in doubt after reports surfaced that he and his agent were not happy with the team hosting four QB prospects at once. Daniels, May, McCarthy and Penix all visited the practice facility and area together, including a group trip to Topgolf.

“Everybody had a great time and it was very beneficial to see everybody in a more relaxed environment,” general manager Adam Peters said last week. “They all got a lot of time individually with their coaches, with us, where they were staggered coming in, too, so it wasn’t like they were sitting in a room together. They all had their own individual time with everybody, so, it worked out really well.”

Well enough to smooth over any issues and make Daniels the centerpiece of the Commanders’ rebuilding process and roster overhaul under Peters and an ownership group led by Josh Harris that has been in charge since August.

“Selecting a winner like Jayden Daniels will energize the players and our fan base!” co-owner Magic Johnson posted on social media.

Short of Williams, a Washington-area native who would have been a no-brainer if the Bears passed on him for some reason, Daniels became the pick after leading the nation in total offense last season with 4,946 yards — 412.2 on average over 12 games. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound QB ranked fifth with 3,812 yards passing and with 40 touchdowns trailed just Oregon’s Bo Nix, who played in two extra games. He also ran for 10 more.

Daniels, 23, blossomed into a star over two seasons at LSU after transferring in 2022 following three years at Arizona State. He became an increasingly decisive pocket passer as his trust in receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. grew, and he became more adept at buying time by scrambling rather than giving up on plays and taking off running.

Nabers went three picks later to the NFC East-rival New York Giants at No. 5.

It’s unclear if Daniels will play right away, get the chance to compete for the starting job or sit and learn behind veteran Marcus Mariota, who is willing to be a mentor after signing a one-year deal in free agency. Whether it’s Daniels, Mariota or journeyman Jeff Driskel, Washington will have an eighth different Week 1 starting QB in as many seasons after trading Sam Howell to Seattle last month.

“I’m just coming in to compete,” Daniels said. “I’m going to come in and really just trying to play my role, whatever that is. I just want to be the best teammate to help the team win, and we can bring some victories back to Washington.”

Drafted second by Washington 12 years after the organization took Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III out of Baylor in the same spot, the San Bernardino, California, native becomes the face of the Commanders under coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.

Daniels cited Kingsbury’s work with Kyler Murray while coaching the Arizona Cardinals as one reason he is excited to play for him.

“The offensive staff, their track record speaks for itself,” Daniels said. “Kliff was over there with Kyler and what he did as a head coach, and for quite some time he had Kyler in the MVP conversation.”

After addressing their most important need with their first selection, the Commanders have eight more in this draft, including five Friday night (Nos. 36 and 40 in the second round, and Nos. 67, 78 and 100 in the third). Peters did not rule out packaging some of those picks to trade back into the first round, a move that could fill a major void at left tackle or elsewhere.

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