Jayden Daniels Explains Why He’s Ready To Make The Leap To The NFL

Jayden Daniels won’t have to wait long to hear his name called on Thursday night when the 2024 NFL Draft gets underway. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner out of LSU is widely expected to be selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Commanders, but even if they go in another direction, it’s hard to imagine him falling outside the top 6 picks.

Like every prospect, this year’s Draft is the culmination of years of hard work and seeking out that right opportunity to shine and showcase his full talents. After starting his career at Arizona State, Daniels transferred to LSU where he spent two seasons under Brian Kelly. His first year was solid, but his second was spectacular, as he threw for 3,812 yards, 40 touchdowns, and just four interceptions, while rushing for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns. In Daniels’ eyes, growing in one particular area helped.

“I would say my decisiveness,” Daniels told Uproxx Sports when asked what he improved most in his time at LSU. “That came with the trust and the relationship that I built with the whole offense — the O-line, the running backs, and the receivers especially. Trust them to go out there and make a play, put the ball in their area, and nine times out of 10 they made the play.”

Daniels certainly had good reason to trust those receivers, as Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. are projected first round picks in their own right. Still, there’s a process of building that trust that has to happen, and Daniels has some firsthand experience from transferring into a new environment at LSU that can help him as he makes the move to the NFL.

“Coming in at ASU, you come in with your recruiting class so you kind of already know half the people and you really just got to bond with the other people. But coming to LSU, I was really the only one in my class at that point. I didn’t know anybody, so it just came with time,” Daniels explained. “You know, building relationships, showing people how hard I work, how I lead. And on the field, once you make plays you start getting the respect and the trust of others, and then being able to relate to them, having fun and talking to different people within the locker room. Stuff like that, it means a lot. I mean, you can’t really get those moments back.”

Daniels cherishes those moments and opportunities to build those bonds that go outside the lines. He’s naturally laid back and easy going off the field, noting his favorite thing to do is just “hanging out with my boys,” whether that’s going bowling, playing video games, or whatever else. However, he’s able to flip that switch once it’s time to go to work.

In his time at LSU, Daniels was given a lot of the responsibilities he’ll now be asked to take on at the NFL level. The Tigers aren’t a “check with me” offense, and it was his job to get LSU into the right protection and right checks when needed, which he believes gives him a leg up as he comes into the league.

“It helped me out a lot,” Daniels said of the responsibility LSU gave him. “The pressure that they put on me as far as getting everybody lined up, protections, run checks, run looks, stuff like that based off of different fronts or coverages and things like that. So, it helped me out a lot. That’s stuff that I’m gonna be asked to do at the next level. So it prepared me for that, and now it’s time to take it up another notch.”

As for being able to shoulder that responsibility, he says it’s all about the work you do before the game.

“Really just the film work and the preparation throughout the week. How dedicated are you to the game? You know, the week of practice should be harder than the game,” Daniels said. “You’re kind of just getting all the answers to the test and when the test comes, you go out there and perform, you’re not really thinking about it. So making sure I stress myself out within the week with the preparation, try to get this look and try and get that look. And really once Saturday came, be able to go out there and not really think about playing football or think about anything, just go out and have fun.”

As he gets ready for Draft night, that commitment to preparation means something a little bit different. Daniels is among the many prospects joining forces with Head & Shoulders to make sure he’s looking right for his big moment on the stage in Detroit.

“Head & Shoulders, they take care of my hair and keep my hair looking great,” Daniels said. “So when I walk across the stage, you know I’m able to look my best. I’m really excited about the look that I put together [for Draft night].”

Whatever team that selects him, he’s tried to make sure they know his commitment to and passion for the game of football.

“I think when I got into the meetings, they’ve kind of seen everything on tape of how I am as a player. They asked me, they kind of know that I’m competitive, they do their homework and stuff like that,” Daniels said. “I’m joyful, obviously. Having fun with my guys when they score a touchdown, really just smiling, and things like that. But as a person, really just letting them know how dedicated I am to my craft and the passion I have for football. Obviously, I love football. It helped me out a lot growing up and getting to this point now, so that stuff I wanted them to know.”