LSU's Jayden Daniels downplays issues with Commanders, says he'd be 'blessed' to go No. 2 overall

DETROIT (AP) — Jayden Daniels handled the media with the same poise and command he displays in the pocket.

Asked a few times about speculation that he doesn’t want to play for Washington and whether he prefers going to another team, Daniels understandably took a diplomatic approach one day before the NFL draft.

“I’m blessed to go wherever I’m called,” Daniels said Wednesday. “Whoever calls my phone, whoever gives the card to the Commissioner that says my name, I’m blessed to go and they’re gonna get my all.”

Pressed further about the Commanders and asked if he'd be OK going there, Daniels replied: “100%”

The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner from LSU is expected to be one of the top three players selected Thursday night. After USC quarterback Caleb Williams goes to Chicago first overall, Daniels is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 2 pick, according to BetMGM Sportsbook.

The Commanders need a franchise QB and will have their choice of Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. The team took an unorthodox approach during its pre-draft visits and hosted all of them together along with several other prospects for a Topgolf outing.

Reports that Daniels’ agent, Ron Butler, wasn’t pleased with the visit led to his client answering questions about it 33 hours before the Commanders are on the clock.

“I just had fun with the other guys just being able to interact with people throughout the process. It was cool,” Daniels said, adding that he’s not a golfer but is starting to learn the sport.

Teams typically want to maximize their time with a player ahead of the draft so Washington faced criticism for its decision to host a group visit.

Daniels downplayed having any issues with it.

“I spent quite some time with them,” Daniels said. “Obviously, Zoom meetings prior and the combine and when I got up there I spent some time with them but I had other places to go so I had to catch a flight but overall just a good visit.”

New Commanders coach Dan Quinn hired former Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury to be the offensive coordinator. Kingsbury had some success with dual-threat QB Kyler Murray in Arizona and previously with Patrick Mahomes and Johnny Manziel in college.

“Obviously, his track record with mobile quarterbacks speaks for itself,” Daniels said. “I’ve been familiar with Kliff."

Daniels has a strong relationship with Raiders coach Antonio Pierce, who was an assistant at Arizona State when he played there before transferring to LSU.

Las Vegas would have to trade up from No. 13 to get Daniels.

“I’ve known AP since I was a teenager, so obviously our relationship off the field meant a lot,” Daniels said. “We’ll see what happens but I’m blessed to go wherever I’m called.”

Daniels, Williams and Maye are among 13 players in town for the draft. They participated in a football clinic with Special Olympics Michigan athletes on a cold, blustery morning in a ballpark that used to be the site of old Tigers Stadium.

Williams had a big smile throughout the event. He tossed five straight touchdown passes to youngsters at one point. Prospects played catch, ran routes, gave tips and interacted with the youth for an hour on the field before a 30-minute session with reporters.

“I had a blast,” Williams said. “They seemed to have a great time. It was really enjoyable for me. Football is about having fun.”

Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix could join Williams, Daniels, Maye and McCarthy to make it six quarterbacks in a first round that’s loaded with offensive players. Six would tie the record for most QBs in the first round.

The 1983 draft had three Hall of Fame quarterbacks — John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly — selected in the first round along with Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien.

The most QBs in the top five is three so there’s a chance this draft will set a record if McCarthy sneaks in.

“We have a chance to be real good,” Daniels said of the draft class. “A lot of special talent in this draft.”



Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press