Peyton Manning


Peyton Manning


Getty

AFC head coach Peyton Manning at the Pro Bowl.

One thing Peyton Manning has always been good at is taking notice of the little things that make football players great. It’s something the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback mastered in his maniacal approach to preparation over 18 seasons in the NFL.

So when Manning sees something he like in certain players, people listen.

Manning likes what he sees in the potential combination of Washington Commanders rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels and veteran wide receiver Terry McLaurin — two players Manning has a long history with — in talking with NBC Sports’ JP Finlay at the Joe Gibbs’ Youth for Tomorrow event on May 16.

“I’m a big fan of Terry; he’s an Indianapolis kid. I knew about him in high school,” Manning told Finlay. “I’m gonna draft Jayden and Terry on my fantasy team.”


McLaurin Thrives Despite QB Revolving Door

McLaurin starred for Indianapolis Cathedral High School then Ohio State before Washington drafted him in the third round (No. 76 overall) in the 2019 NFL draft.

Manning, of course, played 14 seasons for the Indianapolis Colts after they selected him No. 1 overall in the 1998 NFL draft.

McLaurin has established himself as one of the NFL’s very best wide receivers over the last five seasons despite playing with a revolving door of quarterbacks.

McLaurin had 919 receiving yards as a rookie in 2019 and has had over 1,000 receiving yards the last last four seasons. That’s a stretch in which the Commanders have used 10 different starting quarterbacks.

The Commanders haven’t had a winning record since McLaurin has been in the NFL — they made the playoffs with a 7-9 record in 2020 — and first-year head coach Dan Quinn is the third head coach McLaurin has played for.

One thing McLaurin has done? Get paid. He signed a 3-year, $68.36 million contract extension in March 2022 that keeps him with the team through at least 2025.


Daniels, Manning Crossed Paths at Camp

Like a lot of the best college quarterbacks in the country over the last 30 years, Manning crossed paths with Daniels at the Manning Passing Academy.

It’s an obvious link. Manning is a New Orleans native and Daniels starred at LSU the last two seasons and won the Heisman Trophy in 2023 before the Commanders selected him No. 2 overall in the 2024 NFL draft.

“I’m a big fan of (Daniels), I got to know Jayden,” Manning told Finlay. “He was at our camp last year, I’m excited about him.”

Daniels hasn’t officially been named the starter for the Commanders — yet — and told former NFL wide receiver and 1996 No. 1 overall draft pick Keyshawn Johnson it wasn’t something he was concerning himself with.

“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,” Daniels said on the All Facts No Brakes” podcast on May 8. “That’s above me.”

Daniels has a unique opportunity with the Commanders to set the bar for what a great quarterback could be.

Washington hasn’t had a Pro Bowl quarterback since Kirk Cousins in 2016 and hasn’t had an NFL All-Pro quarterback since Joe Theismann in 1983, when he also won NFL Most Valuable Player honors.

 

Tony Adame covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Cincinnati Bengals. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame



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