The Chicago Bears are duty-bound to evaluate every possible quarterback in this class. For the longest time, it felt like the 2024 crop was a two-man race between Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. That changed by the end of the 2023 season when Jayden Daniels launched himself into the conversation with a stellar year at LSU. Some were reluctant to believe he was anything other than a product of great talent around him, but so was Joe Burrow. It is always important to scout the player directly.
So, let’s take a look. Daniels walked a long road to get to this moment. Did he earn his place, or is he benefitting from great timing?
Jayden Daniels is a case study in nitpicking.
- His 6’4 height is exactly what is needed for the NFL. He should have no problems seeing over the offensive line when reading the field.
- Speed is elite. Few defenders have any prayer of catching once he decides to take off. If you don’t have an angle, it’s over.
- Accuracy can be lethal. There are several throws where he fits the ball into some pinhole windows where the receivers have little separation.
- Really improved his pocket poise and field-reading in 2023. Went through progressions a lot and regularly checked the ball down before pressure arrived.
This is a professional throw in every sense of the word. Daniels starts off looking to his left, holding the coverage in place. Then, he shifts his progress to the one-on-one matchup with Lacy. While the receiver doesn’t have much separation, the QB still doesn’t hesitate. He rips the ball with authority, fitting it into an impossibly tight window. Three inches further, it’s incomplete. Three inches shorter, it’s intercepted. That is a throw NFL quarterbacks make.
Subscribe to the BFR Podcast for analysis, insight, and discussion about Chicago Bears football.
- The best release of any QB in the class. It’s tight, compact, and quick. Comes up and out and doesn’t appear to lack velocity when it does.
- Resilient young man. Overcame injuries and coaching issues at Arizona State to rebound at LSU, transforming himself into a Heisman winner.
- Shows a certain charisma that should do well in the locker room and on the sideline. Coaches call his personality “infectious.”
- Seems to always play his best against the best. Arguably, his four best games in 2023 were on the road against conference rivals.
- Daniels is on the thinner side at 210 lbs. Combine that with his tendency to take some ugly hits will lead many to worry about injuries.
- While his arm strength isn’t terrible, it’s not great either. He can hit almost every throw within 50 yards of the LOS but isn’t going to outthrow deep coverages often.
- Trusts his athleticism a lot that sometimes he gets caught looking for a running lane too early, ignoring some passing opportunities.
- Footwork could still use some polish. Hasn’t learned how to consistently avoid interior pressure when it comes. That will be something to coach up.
- Ball tends to sail on him from time to time. When he misses, it always seems to be high. That can be dangerous with lurking NFL defensive backs.
Pro comparison: Pocket-savvy Robert Griffin III
People forget how electric RGIII was early in his career. He was a star at Baylor, won a Heisman, and went #2 overall to Washington. Then he won Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl. Sadly, two things led to his demise. One was that devastating knee injury against Seattle, and the other was his inability to master reading NFL coverages. Daniels is the same type of athlete with similar accuracy. The key difference is he’s learned how to play the position on a more professional level, while RGIII was a product of the early zone-read craze. He never grew out of that. Daniels is already better prepared.
Projection: Top 5
Jayden Daniels is a good player. He didn’t win the Heisman because he was carried by an elite supporting cast. He more than did his part in that offense. The improvements he made as a pocket passer without losing his incredible ability to gash defenses on the ground can’t be understated. There are understandable concerns with him. His thin frame makes him a slightly bigger injury risk and he’s not built for a vertical offense. Even so, he gashed the best conference in college football for a reason. This young man can ball.