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Jayden Daniels: From Heisman to Top NFL Draft Pick

Jayden Daniels NFL Draft

Jayden Daniels NFL Draft prospects were bleak coming into this season, and then Daniels has one of the greatest football seasons of all-time. He carried a team with an awful defense to contend with some of the best teams in the country. Had Daniels not gotten knocked out of the Alabama game, we may even be rewriting the story even more. It’s a bit crazy, despite the accolades, it is neck in neck with being the greatest LSU season of all-time with Joe Burrow. I would not have guessed this in a million years.

From a talent perspective, the 2022 season for Daniels had flashes, but was subpar in terms of passing. He floated balls and often hit the wrong spots. He couldn’t hold up to throw accurately when under pressure. Hitting the sideline was a nightmare. Late in the season, some of these improved, but it was difficult to discern if this would stick. Fast forward to the 2023 season and Daniels came out of the gate like I remembered Lamar Jackson his final year. Not only did you have the rushing threat with advanced knowledge of angles and spacing, but the off platform throws and arm angles were so much improved. Daniels was hitting every spot of the field. He put on weight and it showed with this arm strength. He consistently looked like an NFL QB. Jayden Daniels NFL Draft outlook improves dramatically. 

The history of Jayden Daniels is wild. His first year at Arizona State in 2019 was phenomenal. Daniels looked like the next big thing. Then 2020 and especially 2021 were nothing short of awful. Daniels seemed to lose his ability to make defenders miss with his legs. He couldn’t read defenses. The amount of passes that were off the mark were astounding. It looked like another QB who became a lost cause that we overhyped.

Stats can tell different stories, but the analytical perspective on Daniels is out of this world. Good friend and guest writer Travis May tweeted a graph of the QBs this year in their EPA (expected points added) per play vs. total adjusted net yards per pass attempt on November 14th with two weeks left to play. The y axis, or EPA, is essentially the value of the plays said player makes, while the x axis takes into consideration passing yards, passing touchdowns, interceptions thrown, times sacked and yards lost to being sacked. Daniels dominated both:

Jayden Daniels NFL Draft chart
Jayden Daniels NFL Draft chart[/media-credit]   Travis May

Here is an image comparing Jayden Daniels to Bo Nix back from November 30th in certain stats and accounting for all the Heisman winners ever. Daniels ranked above almost every QB Heisman winner ever:

Jayden Daniels NFL Draft Heisman

For Jayden Daniels NFL Draft outlook, he is QB3 for me right now and pressing up against that QB2 mark. He is not dissimilar to Kyler Murray as a prospect and in a different year could go #1 overall. For fantasy football, Daniels is in the conversation as the top QB due to his rushing upside. Expect him to be a Top 10 NFL Draft pick with Top 5 being a real possibility.


See more from Shane Hallam

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