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Mel Kiper Jr. has 5 QBs going in the first 12 picks in his latest mock draft

With the first week of NFL free agency in the books, it’s time for Mel Kiper’s third mock draft of the year.

It’s no surprise that Kiper has the Chicago Bears taking USC quarterback Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall. Even before the Bears shipped Justin Fields to Pittsburgh last weekend, Williams to Chicago has been a theme for every mock draft thus far.

The real intrigue begins with the Washington Commanders at No. 2 overall. The Commanders are taking a quarterback. Don’t believe all the hype about them moving back. They will listen to offers, as new general manager Adam Peters is process-oriented and will examine every possible outcome before making a decision — a collaborative decision.

In Kiper’s previous mock draft, he had the Commanders taking LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels over North Carolina’s Drake Maye. Kiper sticks with Daniels in his latest mock draft.

Here’s where the intrigue begins. Daniels or Drake Maye … or is it possible J.J. McCarthy is in play? I don’t think anyone has a great handle on which quarterback the Commanders prefer. I have Daniels over Maye in my position rankings — both are in my top six overall — and McCarthy is a distant fourth. There’s no consensus around the league, though, which makes this pick the pivot point in the draft.

One quarterback we know who won’t be involved in Washington is 2023 starter Sam Howell, who was dealt to the Seahawks last week. The Commanders brought in Marcus Mariota to serve as the backup to whichever rookie they select. And like the Bears, they have good wideouts in Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, though there are questions along the offensive line.

Kiper said it best: Absolutely no one outside Peters’ close circle has any clue which quarterback the Commanders like the best. As of now, Daniels, Maye and McCarthy are all firmly in play.

It should make for a fun month leading into the 2024 NFL draft.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire