Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels are vying to be the No. 2 pick

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The scenes on both campuses were similar: packed fieldhouses, beeping stopwatches and booming speakers. NFL executives milled through the crowds, talking to agents, coaches and team staffers, mining for information on the top prospects who could change the trajectories of their careers.

They were here for the small moments. They’d already seen the talent over hours of film study, and they probably weren’t going to be surprised by the athletic performances, because pro days are just on-campus reruns of the NFL scouting combine drills. But this was a window into the players as people, leaders and communicators.

Last week, in a whirlwind, teams scouting the top quarterbacks in the upcoming NFL draft flew from the league’s annual meetings in Orlando to Baton Rouge, to see LSU’s Jayden Daniels, and then to Chapel Hill, to see North Carolina’s Drake Maye. Since the No. 1 pick appears to be a foregone conclusion — Southern Cal’s Caleb Williams — the Washington Commanders’ choice at No. 2 has become the most important domino to fall for teams early in the draft, and Daniels and Maye are seemingly vying for the spot.

Several people around the league said they believe the Commanders will select Daniels, but given how tight-lipped the team has been, it’s difficult to parse whether those people are making astute observations or repeating a rumor.

“I don’t think anyone in here knows exactly what Washington is going to do,” New England Patriots Coach Jerod Mayo said at the league meetings last week.

Commanders General Manager Adam Peters, assistant GM Lance Newmark, Coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury led Washington’s scouting team at the pro days. They spent most of their time talking with those who know the quarterbacks best, including their coaches and support staff, and they met with both players. In interviews, the quarterbacks were vague about those conversations.

“I have a whole bunch of teams [to talk to], so I’m not going to [put] too much information out there,” Maye said.

The pro days started with measurements, which were important for Daniels. He’d opted out of all measurements and testing at the combine, saying he wanted to wait for the pro day so he could get his teammates more exposure. Some skeptical scouts suspected he wanted more time to put on weight; even though he’s a game-changing runner, many worry his thin frame won’t hold up over time, given his reckless running style and repeated exposure to big hits.

In Baton Rouge, Daniels measured 6-foot-3⅝ and 210 pounds. Over the past two decades, only three quarterbacks drafted in the first round have been roughly as tall and light: Teddy Bridgewater, Alex Smith and Robert Griffin III.

Now, teams must ask themselves: Does Daniels need to gain weight? If so, can he remain a dynamic runner? And regardless, can he better protect himself? LSU Coach Brian Kelly said the No. 1 question he’s gotten from teams has been, “Will he slide?”

“What I say to them is, ‘Look, you have a guy who’s incredibly tough and competitive,’ ” Kelly said. He pointed out that Daniels was hit in the Alabama game and set an NCAA record when he returned the next week, becoming the first player in FBS history to throw for at least 350 yards and rush for at least 200 in the same game.

Meanwhile, in Chapel Hill, Maye confirmed his prototypical size: 6-foot-4⅛ and 227 pounds.

During non-throwing drills, Daniels and Maye wore sweats and watched. Daniels paid only loose attention to most teammates except star receiver Malik Nabers. Daniels locked in on his every rep, delivering a steady stream of motivation, and after Nabers ran a blazing 40-yard dash, Daniels sprinted the length of the field to celebrate with him.

In Chapel Hill, Maye was more even. He watched nearly every teammate closely and offered subtle encouragement in fist bumps and pats on the back.

Then the quarterbacks started warming up. Daniels…

This article was originally published by a www.washingtonpost.com . Read the Original article here. .

Related Posts

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.