First Mel Kiper Jr. Mock Draft Features Surprise Quarterback in Top Two

Drake Maye
Drake Maye / Lance King/GettyImages

For the last few months there has been a consensus on how the top three of the 2024 NFL Draft would shake out. USC's Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye, the two best quarterback prospects of their class, would be the first and second overall picks in the draft in some order. Then Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr., the best wide receiver prospect in years, would go to whoever holds the No. 3 overall pick. After that, who knows, but for the entire fall it was more or less set in stone that those three guys would be the first three picks no matter what.

However, once Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Trophy for LSU, he started to rocket up draft rankings. At this point in the cycle he is pretty widely seen as the third-best quarterback prospect and at the top of the second tier of quarterbacks, ahead of guys like Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr., and J.J. McCarthy. Given Daniels' dual-threat ability and excellent final collegiate season, he is definitely a strong contender for the guy who gets drafted way higher than expected (there's a guy like that every year, especially at quarterback).

That theory will have a lot more traction after today. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft of the cycle on Tuesday and predicted Daniels would go No. 2 overall to the Washington Commanders.

This would come as a big surprise, even with Daniels having the profile of a fast draft riser. Maye is simply more in the mold of what teams view as optimal builds for elite quarterbacks; he's tall, well-built, and has a big arm. He is a good enough athlete to scramble but not so good that he was able to over-rely on his ability to do so at the cost of his passing development. Even with the inconsistency Kiper mentions in his mock, Maye would be the No. 2 guy for most teams.

But Daniels sure is intriguing as a legitimate dual-threat under center with a very pretty deep ball. And, as Kiper notes, he's improved substantially year over year, culminating with a Heisman Trophy. That sort of linear progression isn't very common in college quarterbacks and is certainly an enticing factor should the Commanders be faced with this decision.

Draft SZN is off to a hot start thanks to Kiper. We'll see how the discourse changes now that he's set the tone.