2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: James Daniels
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: When watching offensive linemen, blinding speed typically isn't one of the attributes that stands out about a player, but that is the case with Daniels. The standout former Hawkeye is extremely fast and is a blur firing to the second level. He is a nightmare for linebackers as he is able to get to spots in an instant that other blockers are incapable of reaching. For the next level, Daniels looks like a future starting center who could go to Pro Bowls early in his NFL career.
As a run blocker, Daniels is lightning fast to the second level, and he a tremendous blocker in space. Even though Daniels isn't the biggest of interior blockers, he has functional strength to sustain his blocks through the whistle. When Daniels gets his hands on defenders, they are in serious trouble as he rides them around the field.
Daniels is a steady pass protector. He is very quick at the point of attack with excellent short-area speed and athleticism. Daniels is fast to react to speed rushers and keep them from firing by him. For the NFL, he could use more strength and weight in his base to handle the heavy nose tackles, especially the elite 3-4 nose tackles who give a lot of centers problems as zero-techniques. Once Daniels adds more strength to his base, he should be an excellent pass protector as a pro.
Because of the lack of length, height and weight, Daniels could have limitations to being played at guard and may only fit as a center in the NFL. With his skill set, Daniels could fit a power-man blocking scheme and definitely is a great fit for a zone-blocking scheme. In the 2018 NFL Draft, Daniels is likely to be a second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Rodney Hudson. Hudson has been one of the top centers in the NFL since being a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Daniels is nearly the same size as Hudson (6-2, 300), and both are technicians with, quickness, and good athletic skill sets. In the NFL, I could see Daniels being a center comparable to Hudson.
NFL Matches: Washington, New York Giants, Detroit, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee and Los Angeles Chargers
There are a lot of teams that could consider an upgrade at center. Washington could use help at center, and Daniels would be a nice fit in Jay Gruden's offense. The Giants lost Weston Richburg in free agency, and if they don't feel Brett Jones is the long-term answer, they could consider Daniels on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Lions could consider an upgrade at center, and Daniels would be a nice value for Detroit in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Buffalo lost Eric Wood to retirement, and Daniels could make a ton of sense for one of the Bills' second-round picks.
The Bengals could use a center upgrade. Daniels could fit Cincinnati in the second round. Tennessee needs an improvement over Ben Jones at center, and Daniels could be a great fit for the Titans.
The Rams re-signed John Sullivan, but he is aging, and Daniels could become their long-term starter. Staying in the city of angels, the Chargers signed Mike Pouncey to a 2-year contract, but they could think of adding a long-term blocker in the middle of the line.
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