Washington Commanders GM Adam Peters: ‘We Knew It Was Jayden For A While’

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When the No. 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft rolled around, there was no panic from the Washington Commanders. This was a moment that the franchise prepared for over the last couple of months and they took advantage of it on Thursday night by selecting former LSU star Jayden Daniels.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has been a hot commodity leading up to the festivities in Detroit. Daniels visited the Commanders earlier this month and General Manager Adam Peters was quick to confirm after the selection that this had been the plan for quite some time.

“I think you guys kind of getting to know how we do things and going through the whole process. I think it’s important, and I think I said this last week too, you don’t want to make a decision until you have to because you never know what’s going to happen,” Peters said to CommanderGameday’s David Harrison. “But that being said, we knew it was Jayden for a while and it would’ve taken a lot for it to not be Jayden personally, just in reality. And it was the building, the whole building was, I would say unanimous on that one and it’s easy to see why.”

The Commanders believe that they secured the best deep-ball thrower in the draft after Daniels tossed 40 touchdowns to just four interceptions in 2023. He’s got the potential to be special for a variety of reasons.

“Oh, why Jayden? Why not Jayden? Jayden to us, he’s special in every way on the field, off the field, just, I talked to him a couple times and I told him kind what I told you guys the other day. Didn’t really watch a lot of the quarterbacks hard during the season, being with the 49ers and then turned on Jayden for the first time here and I couldn’t believe it,” Peters said. “I honestly couldn’t believe how good he was and saw him on TV. I saw him on highlights and everything, but when you really study him as a quarterback, just as a quarterback, he’s really, really good.”

“And just the way he can process, the way you can see the field, go through reads, deliver on time, deliver with the pressure in his face, take a hit, deliver a third-down pass and move the chains. He’s the best deep-ball thrower we thought in the draft,” Peters continued. “And that’s even before you start watching him run. And the way he runs, I’ll just talk about, it kind of takes your soul as a defense. You think he 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. This is against the best of the best. So for all those reasons on the field and off the field, I can’t say enough about him.”

Washington went well beyond the tape in its evaluation of Daniels. They spoke to everyone around him during the scouting process, even making sure to do their due diligence all the way back to his time at Arizona State and playing prep ball in California.

“We did a lot of work on Jayden and in terms of every single person we spoke to, it was just exemplary as a person, personal character, football character, his work ethic, his football intelligence, how much he cares, his leadership, how he is as a teammate, they were all exemplary,” Peters said. “We went back to high school, we went back to Arizona State, Herm Edwards, his personal quarterback coaches, his LSU and all the staffers at LSU, Brian Kelly there, every single person you would talk to. It was the same answer. So we felt so good about how awesome of a person that he was on top of watching all that tape. So it really made us feel really, really good about making this pick. If we could have run it up, we would’ve run that pick up. We waited a little while. I think they tell us to do that, but we couldn’t be happier.”

While Daniels can dominate defenses with his arm, he can kill them with his legs. His athleticism is another reason that he has a chance to be a dynamic quarterback in the NFL. Daniels is coming off a campaign at LSU where he ran for a career-high 1,134 yards and ten touchdowns. That included 234 yards and two scores on just 12 carries in a 52-35 victory over Florida.

“I think it’s a real skill as a quarterback runner and some quarterbacks really just know how to do it. It’s instinct,” Peters said. “One, he has great speed and great acceleration. He’s also a really, really instinctive talented runner. And the way I would describe it is the slashing. So one, he’s very decisive when he runs and you have to be decisive in this league, especially the SEC too. But this league especially because if you’re indecisive, these guys are big and fast and they’re going to be on you and they’re also 255 pounds and they still run as fast as you. So what he does, he’s very decisive and he slashes.

“So he’s never breaking down, he’s never breaking stride. He’s attacking edges. And if you see, you watch the tape, there’s defenders that think they have him a great angle on him and then the next thing you know he’s gone because he’s never slowing down, he’s attacking edges,” Peters continued. “So I think you can teach that, but a lot of it’s instinct and also just he is really fast. He’s going to run over 21 miles an hour, which is the fastest quarterback to get really that maybe Justin Fields and Lamar, those are the guys that run that fast. So I think it’s a combination of his speed and his talent, his instinct, and really his toughness and just he’s got it all.”

There’s always the possible risk of injury with a quarterback who can run with the football. This city has seen it before. With that being said, it’s a big part of Daniels’ game and Washington is going to live with that balance.

“I think with any quarterback, not just Jayden, want to tell him to get down, take the hit, which is if that’s your biggest problem with somebody, then it’s pretty good deal there. And so we’ll encourage him to not take those hits,” Peters said. “But he’s so competitive, he’s so tough. He got up every time. So no questions about his toughness or his durability. Just I think wanting him to play 17 to 20 plus games every year, want to make sure he takes care of his body and we know he’ll time for two more.”

There were some reports leading up to the draft that Daniels didn’t want to be selected by the Commanders. Peters didn’t waste anytime shooting down the notion, expressing that the parties are “really excited” to get to work.

“For us, not internally. He never expressed that to us and really expressed that he was really happy to be wherever he went,” Peters said. “And that’s the attitude that I think anybody has to take and when you’re in that position, and he never expressed that to us and we’re thrilled to have him here. I know he’s thrilled to be coming here and had a lot of conversations and we’re really excited to work together.”

While polarzing, Daniels is an immensely talented player who possesses the ceiling to develop into a star. It’ll be interesting to follow his acclimation to the Commanders and NFL over the coming weeks and months.

The Washington Commanders didn’t end up trading back into the first round as some thought. The team will continue the draft with the No. 36 pick on Friday evening.

*Story courtesy of Dustin Lewis

Stick with CommanderGameday for more coverage of the Washington Commanders throughout the NFL Draft.

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