Iowa's Mike Daniels is but one of a strong defensive tackle class in this 2012 NFL Draft. The presence of seven or eight DTs in this year’s top 50 athletes overall (depending on who is doing the list) is a beautiful thing if your team needs interior line strength.
Not so much if you are the 18th-ranked defensive tackle, according to Lindy’s Sports Pro Football Draft. NFLDraftscout.com listed Daniels as the 26th DT in 2012.
At 6’0" 291 lbs., Daniels projects well into the 4-3, although he did interview with a few 3-4 teams in February.
Daniels is an experienced senior starter who played in 21 games in his last two years at Iowa, including all 13 games in 2011. He ranked 24th nationwide in quarterback sacks last season.
As a captain, he led his team in tackles and sacks, was named on several All-Big Ten honors lists and was elected to the Hawkeyes 2011 Leadership Group. And he did all of this with two sprained ankles and a torn labrum.
He’s fast at the snap, plays with the proverbial “high motor” and is stronger than he looks when it comes to getting away from blockers.
His quickness and explosion give him a literal “jump” on the offense. He prides himself on being a quick learner and a hard worker. He plays smart to compensate for his challenges in the height department.
There is a lot to love about his first step burst and explosion. He was the spark plug of the defense at Iowa and was productive against both the pass and run...he has active hands to slip blocks…and nimble footwork with smooth body control…love his effort and determination.
The senior year injuries and offseason shoulder surgery are a concern, although it speaks to tremendous mental and physical toughness that he played through it all.
His performance at the end of last year coming back from injury was impressive. Interviewed at the combine, Daniels said, “Those last few games [showed] that I’ve come along with my healing process and definitely [played] how I should have been playing all season.”
At 6 feet, he is small for today’s D-line, but he uses quickness to work his way inside past blockers. Multiple scouts have expressed concern over his size.
Potential Rookie Impact
Mike Daniels is hard working, smart and full of character, according to all sources. A “quarterback-driven league” has, perhaps unintentionally, resulted in a new kind of defensive line that is built to rush, while still being quick enough to react to the run. And that philosophy is dependent upon keeping these sack machines fresh. So, today’s D-line is a rotating monster requiring at least six big, fast and strong men.
Daniels will see the field in 2012 for the Green Bay Packers, where he’ll have a shot at proving you can make it as a DT even at his height. His leadership and character will keep him on the team if he can make it past the initial shock of NFL cold water.