NFL

How Many Passing Yards Will Jayden Daniels Throw for in His Rookie Season?

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
How Many Passing Yards Will Jayden Daniels Throw for in His Rookie Season?

The long-awaited NFL Draft dust finally cleared. There was not much of a question over who would be the first overall pick, but number two was debated right up until draft day.

The Washington Commanders ended up selecting quarterback Jayden Daniels from the LSU Tigers. Daniels won the 2023 Heisman Trophy, and definitely is an intriguing prospect to evaluate.

So how many yards will Daniels throw for in his rookie season? According to the NFL odds on FanDuel Sportsbook, his line is set at 3,075.5. Will he be able to exceed that mark? There are good reasons why he could but also reasons why he may fall short.

Jayden Daniels Projections

Why Jayden Daniels Could Pass for Over 3,075.5 Yards (-112)

Daniels lit up the SEC in his final season in college. He threw for 3,812 yards in 12 games in the toughest conference in the nation.

He was able to do it by throwing the deep ball very effectively. In 2023, he had a 142.4 passer rating on deep throws, according to PFF.

A lot of times with rookie quarterbacks, the situation is beyond their control. The environment they are in plays the biggest factor into whether or not they can be successful. In this case, we need Daniels to be in an environment where he can exceed 3,075.5 passing yards.

Last year, Sam Howell threw for 3,946 yards in 17 games for Washington. The Commanders loved to pass the ball, ranking third in pass rate over expectation last year. There is a new coaching staff this season, but new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury famously runs the air-raid offense, which should lead to a high pass rate again.

Part of the reason the Commanders threw so often was because their defense was not good. They ranked 31st in overall defense, according to numberFire's metrics. They made some additions to the D to improve it during free agency, but it probably isn't enough to make them even a league-average unit.

The weapons Daniels has to throw to definitely won't be considered the best in the league, but there have been high draft picks with worse players to throw to. He has Terry McLaurin as his number one and Jahan Dotson as a developing number two. He also has one of the best pass-catching backs in the league, Austin Ekeler.

3,076 yards is much more attainable in the modern NFL than it was about 15 years ago. We now have 17 games in the regular season, and teams are generally more willing to pass the ball.

Mike Clay of ESPN updated his projections last night, and he has Daniels going well above this number in just 15 games. Without having to lay a huge price, over 3,075 makes a lot of sense.

Why Jayden Daniels Could Pass for Under 3,075.5 Yards (-112)

Daniels was excellent in his fifth year in college, but it took him till that year at age 23 to really become a top-level prospect. It is a bit concerning, and he likely would have looked more like a day-two pick if he didn't have a great season as an older player.

His passing production has to be somewhat attributed to the receivers he played with. Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. were both speedsters that went in the first round of the draft. If Daniels wasn't throwing to these elite receivers, you have to wonder how much his yardage would drop.

Another reason Daniels could fall short is because of his tendency to scramble. His scramble rate was 14.1%, the third-highest in college football since 2019. If we are evaluating something like Daniels' fantasy stock, this is obviously a good thing, but his propensity to take off and run could lead to him going under his passing yardage total.

The biggest reason Daniels could fall short of this number would be an injury. It's impossible to predict injuries, but Daniels tends to take big hits when scrambling. This has been discussed to death during the pre-draft process, and the Commanders even addressed that he needs to learn to not avoid hits.

He has some competent players to target, but it certainly wouldn't be called the best set of skill players in the league. He will also play behind an offensive line that ranked 27th at PFF to end last season.

While Daniels' skill set is undeniable, there were doubts that he was going to be the second pick for a reason. A lot of talented QBs have failed in their first season, and it's not crazy to think Daniels could be one of them.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.