Patriots Talk Podcast

Which way are Commanders leaning with No. 2 pick in 2024 NFL Draft?

The Commanders' pick at No. 2 could set the stage for the rest of the first round.

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The New England Patriots will have the opportunity to select one of the top-tier quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the players available to them with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round largely will be determined by what the Washington Commanders do.

The Commanders own the No. 2 pick and, like the Patriots, desperately need a franchise quarterback. North Carolina's Drake Maye was the No. 2 rated QB prospect in this year's draft class for most of last season, but LSU's Jayden Daniels has leapfrogged him in many pre-draft rankings after a sensational Heisman Trophy-winning campaign.

Which way might the Commanders be leaning? NBC4 Sports' JP Finlay, who has covered Washington D.C. area teams such as the Commanders for many years, recently joined Tom E. Curran on NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Talk Podcast to discuss this subject and much more.

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"I want to be crystal clear that I don't know and nobody does," Finlay said. "You could tell that new Washington general manager Adam Peters absolutely came up in that Bill Belichick lineage because they are silent, man. Being a Washington guy, this is very different for us. 

"But it seems they're leaning Jayden Daniels. If you think about the type of player you can get there, the immediate high ceiling he seems to offer. Repeatedly, new head coach Dan Quinn and Adam Peters have talked about how important mobility is in the modern game. Then if you factor in Josh Harris as the new owner has said that he wants to model his organization like the Ravens -- nobody's Lamar Jackson, but certainly Jayden Daniels can run. I think that's the lean."

"But I think Drake Maye is certainly in play. I think J.J. McCarthy might be in play. I keep reminding myself -- so Peters, the new GM, started with the Pats, then went to the Broncos, won a ring there, and then went to the 49ers when Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch started that operation, and he was like the No. 3 guy the whole time building that.

"And remember when they traded for Trey Lance, but they traded up to draft Trey Lance and then it was going to be Trey Lance and there was a period of time where it was going to be Mac Jones. Then it came back to Trey Lance -- they don't let anything out. So I'm not writing anything in marker until draft day."

The Commanders signed veteran Marcus Mariota in free agency last month. Mariota is a dual-threat quarterback who can escape the pocket and pick up yards running the football.

Should we look at the Mariota move as a sign of what's to come for Washington offense? And if yes, does that make Daniels, a very talented dual-threat QB, the best option for the Commanders?

"When they signed Mariota, to me it meant two things: No. 1, they're leaning Daniels, because if you're going to build an offense around somebody, you could at least have a backup that could run the same offense," Finlay explained. "And No. 2, I thought it meant bad news for Sam Howell. And sure enough, Sam Howell was traded days later.

"It might be a bridge too far to say definitively like, oh, Mariota equals Daniels, but if Daniels goes No. 2, they're both going to be Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks that went No. 2 overall. Daniels, I think, is a really refined pocket passer, but they both can run and that's just a lot of similarities to me."

The Patriots could always trade down from No. 3 and stockpile more quality draft picks to accelerate their rebuild. But it's rare to have a top-three pick -- the Patriots haven't had one since 1993 -- especially in a year where so many highly rated quarterbacks are available.

Selecting Daniels or Maye, whoever is still on the board at No. 3, is still the smartest approach for the Patriots to take in Round 1.

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