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Which Commanders draft picks will compete for starting jobs?

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Jayden Daniels' NFL draft profile (1:42)

Check out some of the top highlights from LSU QB Jayden Daniels. (1:42)

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Commanders eyed the draft as the proper way to build long-term, using free agency to fill immediate holes. However, there's a good chance the Commanders' draft will produce a handful of year one starters -- or, at the least, players who will become key backups -- who could revitalize the franchise.

As the Commanders' rookies report Thursday, Washington's future will start to form under new general manager Adam Peters and first-year coach Dan Quinn. That future could include a starting quarterback (Jayden Daniels), a left tackle (Brandon Coleman), a nickel corner (Mike Sainristil) and a No. 2 tight end (Ben Sinnott). Others could play vital roles as backups in year one.

Before the draft, Peters said, "We really have a chance to make this team a lot better."

These players will help determine if he did -- and how soon.

Quarterback Jayden Daniels, LSU
Pick: First round, No. 2 overall

Daniels will not be handed the job and there's a chance Washington won't declare a starter until after the preseason. But make no mistake: He'll be the starter sooner than later.

In the spring, Daniels worked a lot with the second group but in minicamp was exclusively with the first.

Daniels impressed teammates and coaches with his work ethic and on-field performance. While there's a lot of room to improve it was considered a strong first step.

"One of the things I love about him is he's got this demeanor about the execution, about the confidence. He's got a swagger," Quinn said. "He has a very firm handle on the things that we're doing, but he also has the humility of a young player. What a rare and really cool combination."

For his part, Daniels said he doesn't feel pressure from the expectations of the fan base.

"Not at all," Daniels said. "I'm focused on learning, focused on competing and having fun, bringing that energy and that joy and that competitiveness to the team."


Defensive tackle Johnny Newton, Illinois
Pick: Second round, No. 36 overall

Newton missed spring workouts after undergoing surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his left foot. His status for training camp remains uncertain, though that will be cleared up when he reports and undergoes a physical.

Once healthy, he's expected to be a key backup behind Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Newton is somewhat undersized inside at 6-foot-2, 304 pounds but offers pass-rush skills -- he led Illinois with 7.5 sacks en route to being named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year. During the draft, Peters asked Quinn if he could find a way to get all three of these tackles on the field. Quinn quickly said yes.

Later Quinn told the media of Newton: "He's going to play. We're going to rotate those guys, keep those guys fresh, so they can get after it, too."


Cornerback Mike Sainristil, Michigan
Pick: Second round, No. 50 overall

Sainristil has an excellent shot to open as Washington's starting slot corner. At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds he's smaller than most corners Quinn has kept on his roster, but coaches like his quickness and toughness inside.

Washington liked that Sainristil also played receiver at Michigan and was considered a strong leader. Quinn has said he fell in love with Sainristil after visiting with him during his pro day. That's why, after Washington selected him, Quinn high-fived coaches and front office members.

"He's wise beyond his years," said secondary coach Tom Donatell. "I feel like I'm talking to a six-year vet. He comes in prepared; he's asking questions before we're even talking about it."


Tight end Ben Sinnott, Kansas State
Pick: Second round, No. 53 overall

During offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's four seasons coaching Arizona, the Cardinals ranked ninth in number of pass plays featuring two tight ends and were seventh in his final two years.

That's why the Commanders signed veteran Zach Ertz and it's why they drafted Sinnott. Washington still has veteran John Bates, considered a solid blocker, and Cole Turner, who has only 13 combined catches in two years. Sinnott's presence will be needed to diversify the pass game.

Sinnott can line up as a fullback, on the line as a tight end or in the slot. Peters said Sinnott reminded him of two players from his time as an assistant general manager in San Francisco: Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle.

"The way he blocks, just the way he competes," Peters said. "Certainly not putting him in that [category], those guys are All-Pros, Pro Bowlers, but Ben plays with that mindset."


Tackle Brandon Coleman, TCU
Pick: Third round, No. 67 overall

Coleman will compete with Cornelius Lucas and Trent Scott for the starting left tackle position. Those three rotated with the first group during the spring, though Coleman and Lucas received more time there during practices open to the media.

According to multiple sources, numerous teams viewed Coleman more as a guard -- a spot he also played at TCU. But Washington likes his length and footwork at tackle. If Coleman doesn't seize the job this season, the Commanders will be in the market for a starter in 2025.

His college position coach, A.J. Ricker, likes him more at tackle.

"He's unbelievably strong and one of the most athletic guys I've been around," Ricker said. "His quickness off the ball sets him apart."


Wide receiver Luke McCaffrey, Rice
Pick: Third round, No. 100 overall

McCaffrey was moved around in the spring and has a chance to at least become the Commanders' third receiver alongside Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. Washington lacks solid depth so there's an opening for McCaffrey. He has the bloodlines -- his brother, Christian, stars for the 49ers, and his father, Ed, played receiver for 13 years in the NFL. But Luke is new to receiver, having only played it two years after moving from quarterback.

"He gets the ins and outs of the game," Washington receivers coach Bobby Engram said. "He has played multiple positions so he sees the game a little differently but physically I like his size, I like his speed and I like the way he catches the ball."


Linebacker Jordan Magee, Temple
Pick: Fifth round, No. 139 overall

Magee impressed Washington in the spring, but his immediate future will be spent as a backup and special teamer, playing behind free agent signees Bobby Wagner and Frankie Luvu.

Magee's continued progression could prompt Washington to have Jamin Davis spend more time working as an edge rusher rather than linebacker - as happened in minicamp. Magee's ability to blitz fits in well with the defensive scheme.

"He doesn't carry himself like a rookie," Washington defensive coordinator Joe Whitt, Jr. said in June. "You would not know that with the way he handles himself, the way he absorbs information. He doesn't have a lot of mistakes."


Safety Dominique Hampton, Washington
Pick: Fifth round, No. 161 overall

Hampton will enter training camp as a backup and, if all goes well, that's where he'd remain -- behind free agent signee Jeremy Chinn. Like Chinn, Hampton has good size; both are 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. Hampton's eventual role likely will be similar to Chinn's, often playing in the box.

Whitt said, like with Magee, the team tested Hampton by working him in the spring with their top defenders.

"We put him in some difficult positions and he's answering the challenge," Whitt said.


Defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Notre Dame
Pick: Seventh round, No. 222 overall

Though the Commanders do not have any dynamic pass-rushing ends, they do have three quality rotational ends in Dorance Armstrong, Clelin Ferrell and Dante Fowler Jr. They also have two developmental ends who were rookies last season in K.J. Henry and Andre Jones. But Jean-Baptiste could surpass one of them with a strong camp.

"Really excited to add the length, the athleticism, the pass rush upside," Washington assistant general manager Lance Newmark said after the draft. "There's a lot of athletic traits."