2024 NFL Draft Debate – Washington Commanders

Drake Maye vs Jayden Daniels - From A Fans Point Of View

by Keith Lott
2024 NFL Draft Debate - Washington Commanders
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Battered Fan Syndrome: When a die-hard sports fan allows the scars of past abuse to steal the hope of the future and joy of the present… and yet, we continue to come back for more. Hi, my name is Austin and I’m a Washington Commanders fan.

It’s November 23, 1997, I’m 7 years old and my favorite football team’s starting quarterback just injured himself by head-butting a padded wall while celebrating. This was my introduction to Washington football quarterbacks. Thanks, Gus Frerotte.

Even when this franchise wins three Super Bowls in a ten-year span, it’s with different quarterbacks each time. You just bought a brand-new Joe Theismann jersey? Queue the snapped leg script.

We’ve seen it all. Draft, free agency, trade, you name it. Patrick Ramsey (1st round pick) the big, strong-armed kid from Tulane. He’s the answer. No?

Ok. Jason Campbell then (another first-round pick). A tall, quiet winner from Auburn. He’s the one. Still no?

Alright. Well how about Trent Green, Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Todd Collins, Tim Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, Josh Johnson, Mark Sanchez, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz, or Sam Howell?

Scars. All of them.

So how do we cope?

Well, we handle it like any mature adult would and take our frustration out on our peers of course. Why compartmentalize when you can log onto your favorite media medium and tell a fellow fan why their opinion that has no bearing on an actual decision is contributing to this country’s intellectual decline?

A tradition unlike any other: the Washington football offseason.

Fast forward to the present. New owner (Josh Harris), new GM (Adam Peters), new Head Coach (Dan Quinn), and the number two pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. After a 4-win season, the Commanders are poised to select an ever-elusive “Franchise Quarterback.” Something this franchise arguably hasn’t had since Sonny Jurgensen retired 50 years ago.

2024 NFL Draft Debate - Washington Commanders

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Universal assumptions indicate Caleb Williams goes number one overall to the Chicago Bears. The last time Washington held the number two pick was in 2020 when Joe Burrow went first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington settled on the “can’t miss, generational prospect” Chase Young - bypassing the second and third-rated QB prospects Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert.

Four years later, both quarterbacks have earned second contracts and are considered franchise cornerstones, while Chase Young just played in the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers.

Will Washington defy common sense and pass on a quarterback again to take arguably the best overall prospect in the draft - Marvin Harrison Jr.?

History tends to repeat itself, but not likely in this case. New GMs and Head Coaches almost always handpick their signal caller and well-informed journalists agree Washington will follow suit in the 2024 draft.

So, if most fans tend to agree that Washington takes a QB at number two - will it be Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels?

Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels are the consensus second and third-rated quarterbacks of the 2024 class, but not necessarily in that order and that’s where the debate begins.

Maye is a 6’4” 230lb prototypical QB with a big arm and solid mobility. Jayden Daniels is also 6’4”, but 20lbs lighter than Maye and much more of an explosive athlete, with what scouts consider a more accurate deep ball.

Both are considered excellent prospects and what could end up separating Washington’s decision is simply what style of quarterback they prefer and want new Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to build an offense around.

Even considering Kingsbury, the decision between the two can be argued on both sides.

Maye ran a version of Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense at North Carolina so he’s familiar with the passing concepts, whereas Kingsbury had success with a dual-threat QB, in the NFL, with Kyler Murray in Arizona so he can likely find success with the dual-threat skillset of Jayden Daniels.

It’s hard to factor in the other pieces around the quarterback in Washington before knowing what the front office does in free agency.

Washington has the most projected cap space of any team in the league so there’s a fair chance the porous offensive line and shallow receiving corp get some attention before the team must make a call on which QB they take in April.

All things considered, fans of teams that also need a quarterback would be thrilled to have the luxury of such an enviable conundrum.

So why aren’t we as fans more excited about this decision? Battered Fan Syndrome. Instead of rallying behind the club’s new leadership and believing in accomplished renowned talent evaluator, GM Adam Peters, our fan base can’t stop stressing about the wrong choice.

It’s not unreasonable. We’ve been here before.

The last time Washington took at quarterback with the number two pick was in 2012. Do you remember who they took? A Heisman-winning, blazing fast, cannon-armed, charismatic quarterback. That was fun for a year.

Is Jayden Daniels the next RGIII? Probably not.

Turn it around the other way and ask Washington’s neighbors to the north how they like their quarterback with those same traits.

Will Jayden Daniels be skinny Lamar Jackson? Also, probably not.

But can he be what Washington needs him to be which doesn’t have to align directly with a current or former comp? Who knows, but where’s the fun in that? We’re a country of extreme opinions that won’t be silenced.

Drake Maye could simply be the next Drake Maye, but guess what, he could also be the next Justin Herbert or Mitch Trubisky (depending on which loud side you’re on).

None of us know who will be better suited for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, but damn it, my Doctorate in Armchair Quarterbacking allows me the confidence to yell freely at the dissenting mouth-breathers behind my keyboard.

Instead of uniting as a fan base and leaning into our next iteration of unreasonable hope, Washington fans have decided to wage civil war between the choice of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. It’s to the point where I truly believe half of all of DC will be deeply unhappy on draft night when our favorite football team selects the next face of the franchise.

Both have similar height, big arms, good mobility, are widely considered exceptional prospects, and have the traits & experience that could lend themselves to Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense - but nuance be damned. You either think Maye is the love child between Josh Allen and Justin Herbert and Daniels is the next RGIII or you think Daniels is modern-day Randall Cunningham while Maye’s ceiling is tall Sam Howell.

It’s not our fault. We’re just a product of our environment. So, who should the Washington Commanders take with the number two pick in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Who knows and both are good options, but this is what sports are about.

We care deeply about something that we have no control over. We hate it and love it all at the same time. And we passionately yell at each other about all of it.

So don’t go quietly into the night, Washington fans. Have an opinion. Feel the scar tissue of past sins, but don’t let it dissuade you from caring about the results of the future. You may prefer Drake or Jayden, but once the pick is made, let’s rally behind whichever young signal-caller dons the burgundy and gold.

If our generation is ever going to witness Washington Football success, persisting through our collective Battered Fan Syndrome together will make it taste that much sweeter!

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