Why the Commanders’ Marcus Mariota Signing Could Point to Jayden Daniels at No. 2

Have the Commanders decided who to draft at No. 2? Why a Washington free agent signing suggests Jayden Daniels could be the pick.

The Washington Commanders still have roughly six weeks to ruminate before making a selection with the No. 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. With USC quarterback Caleb Williams expected to go to the Chicago Bears with the draft’s initial selection, the Commanders should have their pick of several other signal callers.

While North Carolina’s Drake Maye had been considered likely to land in Washington, LSU’s Jayden Daniels recently took over as the betting favorite to be drafted second overall.

On Tuesday, the Commanders signed a free agent that could further point to Daniels being the pick.

Will Jayden Daniels Be the Commanders’ Pick at No. 2?

The Commanders are widely expected to select a QB with the second pick in next month’s draft, and they’ll have a new backup passer, too.

Washington deployed 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell for 17 starts last season, but he led the NFL in sack and interception rates.

First-year general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn found their new QB2 on Tuesday, signing veteran Marcus Mariota to a one-year, $6 million deal that can reach $10 million with incentives.

Signing Mariota might reveal something about the Commanders’ draft plans.

NFL teams often prefer to roster backup quarterbacks that match the play style of their starting quarterback. If a club’s QB1 is a pocket passer, it probably makes sense for that team to have a No. 2 signal-caller who works well within structure.

Mariota won the Heisman Trophy as a dual-threat quarterback at the University of Oregon. He spent last season backing up Jalen Hurts, another mobile QB, with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Starting to see a pattern?

If Mariota is the template for Washington, Daniels could be the final product. Here are the first two lines in PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings’ scouting report on Daniels:

“Turbocharged athlete with rare speed, lateral agility, bend, and evasive twitch. Platinum-grade big-play generator with his running ability and deep passing chops.”

New Commanders offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury has historically deployed wide-open spread attacks in his NFL and NCAA stops. Daniels could be the choice to operate that scheme.

KEEP READING: Jayden Daniels Goes to Washington in 7-Round NFL Mock Draft

The betting odds have shifted in Daniels’ favor, too. DraftKings now lists the LSU product as the favorite (-145) to be selected second overall ahead of Maye (+125).

There’s still plenty of time until the draft for Peters, Quinn, and the rest of Washington’s decision-makers to make up their minds. Additional meetings and countless hours of watching game film will be required before the Commanders ultimately pick their new quarterback.

But if we’re reading the tea leaves, Daniels has to be considered the favorite to go No. 2.

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