Thursday, May 3, 2018

James Daniels - The Bears Finally Drafted an Iowa Hawkeye for Me

The Chicago Bears made me a very happy man when they selected a man who shares my alma mater, the University of Iowa, when they took James Daniels, an offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes. I say offensive lineman, because although he exclusively played center in college, there are already rumors of a move to guard for Daniels. Since offensive linemen don't get love from the tape community, let's watch the tape for Akrum Wadley and keep an eye on Daniels. If you can't figure out which one he is, he's the guy snapping the ball, so that should help.

James Daniels is not your typical Iowa offensive lineman who makes up for a lack of physical ability with great technique. He has incredible athleticism for an offensive lineman and proved it at the combine when he set the bar in both the 3-cone drill and the 20 yard shuttle.

But he's still an Iowa offensive lineman which means he has been well trained on the tricks of the trade in offensive line play. Although he isn't a big guy (by offensive line standards), he has very good technique and knows how to use leverage to his advantage.

Here, Daniels gets under the defensive tackle and can basically move him wherever he wants at that point. He just keeps driving him out of the way, even when his running back is 15 yards down field.

Daniels also shows excellent technique in pass blocking as well.

Here he is pass blocking but still shows enough aggression to push his defender on the far side of the right tackle. After that, the defender runs into a double team and his best option is to flop to the ground to avoid the abuse.

On this play, the Ohio State defender gets the better of Daniels off the snap, but this may be Daniels's most impressive play.

Even with the defender getting underneath him and pushing him back, Daniels is able to use his hips to anchor himself and stop the momentum.

Here, Daniels responsibility is to help the guard with the defensive tackle, but his awareness is what shines on this play.

While helping his guard out, he notices an Ohio State linebacker coming on a delayed blitz so he breaks off and stops the guy's momentum to give the quarterback a pocket to throw the ball.

Here is some more excellent pass blocking from Daniels

You just have to feel bad for the Ohio State defender. All of his buddies are charging up field and trying to get to the quarterback. Meanwhile, he's just stuck at the line of scrimmage, trying to dip, dive, and dodge his way past Daniels, but it's no use.

Overall, there's a ton to like here. I would prefer for him to stay at center due to his weight, but I'm not doubting that he can hang in there against most defensive tackles. Also, he is going to be a monster when he pulls because of the way he can move in space. There is also the fact that he is only 20 years old so putting on some extra poundage isn't that hard to imagine. There were a lot of people who had Daniels as their top center in the draft and behind only Quenton Nelson for interior offensive linemen. Considering the Bears were able to nab him as the third center off the board is great value. Even without my totally biased Iowa glasses on, this is a great pick that should help solidify the interior of the Bears offensive line.

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