Weight: 295 pounds
School: Iowa Hawkeyes
Combine Performance Data
Bench press: 21 reps
Vertical jump: 30.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet
Three-cone drill: 7.29 inches (second among offensive linemen)
20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds (best among offensive linemen)
James Daniels 2018 NFL Draft Profile
Over the past decade, Iowa’s program has excelled producing NFL caliber offensive linemen, with 15 getting drafted by NFL teams since 2000. Players such as Robert Gallery, Marshal Yanda, Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff and Brandon Scherff among others come to mind. There are a few who hope to join their fellow former Hawkeyes in the league, with James Daniels perhaps being the most pro-ready.
Rated the fourth-best center recruit in the nation according to Rivals, Daniels committed to Iowa somewhat early in the process, doing so during the summer ahead of his senior year. The Warren, OH native didn’t see a lot of starter reps as a true freshman even though he did get the nod at left guard in the Rose Bowl that year. His role on the offensive line expanded greatly thereafter with Daniels making 23 starts at center over the next two seasons.
As a sophomore, Daniels earned third-team All-Big Ten accolades from the coaches and media. One year later, he played every offensive down in nine games and was named honorable mention all-conference. He capped off his college career with a win in the Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College, declaring for the draft with a year of eligibility left afterward.
Daniels’ older brother LeShun also played at Iowa for four seasons with his last coming in 2016. He and Akrum Wadley, himself a prospect in this year’s draft, both rushed for over 1,000 yards that year. The elder Daniels went undrafted in 2017 but is currently a member of the Washington Redskins.
- engages defender off the snap with plus initial quickness;
- solid hand placement and punch at the point of attack in pass protection;
- stays square to his target and able to reset laterally;
- combination of natural knee bend and fluid feet allows him to effectively anchor and contain;
- possesses awareness to redirect pressure away from the ball, creating running lanes;
- experience snapping the ball both short and in shotgun sets.
- needs to add some more bulk and overall thickness;
- forward lean gets over-pronounced when run blocking leading to balance issues;
- some issues sustaining in space when blocking in the second level;
- needs to be more assertive tracking interior pass pressure rather than waiting for it to come to him;
- bruisers can stun him backward and onto his heels with their bull rush;
- might not be scheme versatile right off the bat;
- only two years of starting level experience in college.
NFL Comparison: Rodney Hudson
Projection: Second to third round
An athletic yet undersized center, Daniels will certainly intrigue teams who operate a lot of zone blocking schemes. He’s quick and fluid off the snap and engages opponents with a sense of urgency you like to see in a pro-level prospect. The big question with him is whether or not he can add a power element to his game and operate with more functional play strength. Doing so will certainly add to his versatility and prevent coaches from looking at him as a player who might struggle as a gap blocker. Daniels might need to test well at the Combine or he could fall to the low end of the above projection. But there’s enough there to suggest that in the right system you’re looking at an immediate starter with a Pro Bowl ceiling.