Latest On Commanders’ QB Plans; J.J. McCarthy In Play At No. 2 Overall?

Dan Quinn effectively confirmed the long-held expectation the Commanders will be likely to draft a quarterback this year. While the new Washington HC did not indicate that move would necessarily come at No. 2 overall, that should be expected.

Which passer the NFC East team will take may be this year’s most intriguing first-round development. With the Bears almost definitely set to draft Caleb Williams first overall, a Jayden Daniels-or-Drake Maye question persists for the Commanders. But the J.J. McCarthy rise may have reached the point where Washington’s No. 2 draft slot pertains to the recent national championship-winning passer.

A number of executives at this week’s league meetings view McCarthy as the most likely Commanders choice at No. 2,’s Tom Pelissero offers (video link). This would certainly be a considerable jump from where McCarthy was viewed as Michigan’s unbeaten season wound down, but the 21-year-old prospect has continued to climb during the pre-draft process.

McCarthy impressed at his pro day, with’s Tony Pauline noting the number of NFL execs topped the scout count at the Ann Arbor event. The Chargers trading out of No. 5 to a team aiming to leapfrog the Giants for McCarthy should be considered in play, per Pauline. The Commanders making this sort of move would obviously make this scenario moot, though it would be a different move compared to how the 49ers played it when Adam Peters last offered input into a quarterback decision near the top of the draft.

The 2021 draft featured Trevor Lawrence locked in at No. 1 for months in advance, and the Jets’ Zach Wilson intentions became clear weeks ahead of the event. The 49ers, who had traded two future first-rounders to move up to No. 3, went with Trey Lance. This came after reports linked Mac Jones to San Francisco. Viewed as a lower-ceiling prospect compared to Lance at the time, Jones did not profile as a player worthy of the No. 3 pick. This is believed to have impacted the 49ers’ thinking, as Kyle Shanahan may or may not have been overruled regarding Jones at 3.

Neither of those passers panned out with his original team, but the 49ers giving up on Lance after two years (four starts) proved eye-opening. The miss did not deter the Commanders from naming Peters their president of football ops, however, and he faces a similar decision in his first draft running Washington’s front office.

McCarthy has already met with the Giants and Broncos, but those teams would not have a route toward outflanking the Commanders for the fast-rising ex-Wolverine. Jim Harbaugh did not ask his final Michigan QB to do too much, and he totaled just 2,991 passing yards in 15 games last season. But the 6-foot-2 passer showed accuracy improvement from the 2022 season, vaulting to a 72.3% completion rate; his TD-INT ratios in two starter seasons: 22-5, 22-4.

Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft has Maye going to Washington at No. 2 (with the Vikings coming up to No. 4 for McCarthy), while Mel Kiper Jr.’s big board sends Daniels to the nation’s capital. We are still weeks away from the draft, with prospect visit season beginning.

On that note,’s Albert Breer indicates Daniels is believed to hold pole position for the Commanders, citing the fit with OC Kliff Kingsbury as part of the reason behind this placement. The 2023 Heisman winner joined McCarthy in upping his draft stock considerably in his final college season, dominating in his second year at LSU. The Raiders have been the team most closely connected to Daniels, due to Antonio Pierce‘s past with the QB when the two were at Arizona State. Las Vegas sitting at No. 13 obviously presents a steep trade path to Daniels.

But the Commanders would have first dibs on Daniels, Maye or McCarthy; as of now, FanDuel odds give Daniels a slight edge on Maye. McCarthy’s rise should certainly be monitored, however, and it has become clear a team eyeing the Michigan-developed passer will probably need to move into or near the top five to draft him.

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