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Commanders rookie QB Jayden Daniels on starting Week 1: 'That's above me'

The Washington Commanders drafted Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to be the face of the franchise in a new era in D.C.

As with most top-five draft picks, the Heisman Trophy winner is expected to start from the jump of his career, but Daniels told Keyshawn Johnson on the All Facts No Brakes podcast that he's not worried about that minor detail.

"Do I anticipate (starting Week 1)? I mean, I'm confident in my abilities, but that's a decision that they've got to make," he said. "That's above me."

When pushed by Johnson, Daniels added: "From what I heard, they said whenever I'm ready, I'm ready. So whenever I feel like I'm ready, I'm ready.

"They didn't tell me, 'Oh, you've got to start Week 1.' They just said, 'Whenever you're ready, you're ready. Whenever you feel ready, we feel you're ready, we're gonna throw you out there.'"

The rookie is smartly playing the humble savior. Barring something disastrous, he'll be in the lineup Week 1.

The 23-year-old isn't a raw prospect with little experience who needs time to sit on the sideline. He started 55 games over five college seasons with Arizona State and LSU, throwing for 12,750 yards and 89 touchdowns. Daniels earned plenty of seasoning at the collegiate level. He's ready-made to start from the jump.

The QB's ability to hit the ground running was likely one element that pushed the Commanders toward the dynamic dual-threat. Starting a new reign with a rookie quarterback will have its growing pains, but those should come on the field for Daniels.

Washington's decision to employ Marcus Mariota as the primary backup despite his on-field struggles the past several seasons also signaled it was a team that planned on starting whichever rookie QB it drafted.

The more significant issue for Daniels isn't whether or not he'll start -- it's quickly getting comfortable in offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's system.

"Just learning the playbook, going back and watching the stuff, it's different than the Air Raid," Daniels said of his new offense. "We're not gonna air the ball out 50 times a game. … You've got to have balance.

"One thing about Kliff: Kliff is open-minded. He ain't the OC that's like, 'It's my way. We've got to do x, y and z.' Just having conversations with him, it's like, 'Man, what do you like? How can we help the team be better?' We're bouncing ideas off each other. I like his scheme, honestly. It suits me, and obviously, you've got to evolve with the times. You've got to be able to have balance, keep a defense honest now, especially with all those athletes out there, too."

Do those sound like the sorts of questions an OC would be asking a rookie quarterback he doesn't expect to start Week 1?

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