Despite a down season in 2020, Georgia cornerback D.J. Daniel is back in the 2021 NFL Draft spotlight following an impressive showing at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. It’s been a long road for the Georgia native, but how bright is the light at the end of the tunnel?
D.J. Daniel NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’11 5/8″
- Weight: 183 pounds
- Wingspan: 81″
- Arms: 33″
- Hands: 9 1/8″
Tony Pauline’s D.J. Daniel Scouting Report
Positives: Nice-sized corner who flashes ability. Physical, mixes it up with receivers throughout the route, and works hard to make plays. Possesses a burst to the ball out of his plant and hits hard. Fires up the field defending the run, and wraps up tackling.
Negatives: Slow transitioning off the line and finds himself a half-step behind opponents within the first five yards. Not smooth or fluid moving in reverse and very quick out of his backpedal. Rarely gets his head back around to locate the ball and face guards more times than not. Very inconsistent.
Analysis: Daniel came into the season with high grades from scouts, which were unwarranted. He possesses solid size and play speed but has not shown consistent progress in his game. While he flashed ability at the Senior Bowl, he also displayed a lot of inconsistency, which was an extension of his college career. Daniel has an upside but must improve his fundamentals and learn to make plays with his back to the ball to have a career in the NFL.
D.J. Daniel Player Profile
It’s been a long, hard road to the 2021 NFL Draft for Georgia cornerback D.J. Daniel. The Griffin, Georgia native has found out the value of hard work along the way. A standout at Spalding High School, he was a part of a team then went to the GHSA Playoffs in consecutive seasons.
As a junior, he helped the team to a 10-2 record. Unbeknownst to him, he was about to find out that success on the football field wasn’t the only thing needed to make your way in the world.
He displayed the ability to cover the best receiving talent Georgia high school football had to offer. Meanwhile, he was academically ineligible to play Division I football. In a meeting at Spalding, he was told he wouldn’t be able to pursue his dream of playing for Georgia.
His junior college career at the Georgia Military College
His only option to continue his football career was to play junior college (JUCO) football. He attended Georgia Military College, where he found an early opportunity to impress. Originally slated to be a second-teamer, Daniel was thrust into the starting cornerback position when both of the team’s starters were injured. He grasped the opportunity with both hands and never looked back.
In his first season, he snagged 3 interceptions as the team ranked in the top 10 in NJCAA for picks. He also impressed as a special-teams contributor, blocking three kicks. The supposed second-teamer went on to become a team captain in his second season. Again, he displayed impressive ball skills with 2 more interceptions. Daniel was a pivotal part of a defense that allowed just 159 passing yards and under 17 points per game.
As a four-star JUCO recruit and the No. 1 player in Georgia, Division I programs came calling. Louisville and West Virginia were amongst his opening offers, but his first SEC offer came from South Carolina.
With a number of his GMC teammates headed to the Gamecocks, Daniel committed early. However, his childhood dream of playing for the Georgia Bulldogs led him to flip his commitment and head to Athens.
Shining in his debut season at cornerback for Georgia
D.J. Daniel arrived in Athens, Georgia, to a cornerback room that hosted fellow NFL Draft prospects Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell. Despite the fierce competition, Daniel made his presence felt as a junior. Stating 11 starts games in 13 appearances, he earned the team’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year award.
The statistics alone were impressive, as Daniel generated 42 tackles and 8 pass breakups (ranking second on the team). More importantly, he made some timely defensive contributions. Against Auburn, he had a drive-stopping tackle for loss on third down. Facing fourth down against Notre Dame, he broke up a pass that forced a turnover. Georgia had hoped for an impact from their JUCO cornerback — he delivered.
Unfortunately for Daniel, he suffered an ankle injury before his senior season. Although he played in eight games, he barely made an impression. He ended his senior season with just 8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. Furthermore, he became overshadowed by Stokes and Campbell on the depth chart and draft boards alike.
However, he received a Senior Bowl invite after Jim Nagy raved about his 2019 tape. He didn’t disappoint in Mobile, earning American Team Defensive Back of the Week honors due to his practice performances.
Best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
His athleticism and agility make Georgia’s D.J. Daniel an intriguing cornerback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. He is willing and able as a tackler, which helps make a case for a role on special teams if he doesn’t stick as a starting cornerback.
Despite not being the tallest cornerback in the class, Daniel owns impressive length, allowing him to disrupt the passing game effectively. Yet, a lack of interceptions in his Georgia career may raise question marks over his ball skills.
D.J. Daniel worked with the Carolina Panthers at the Senior Bowl, and with them needing a cornerback, the two form an excellent NFL Draft fit. Other teams that are also likely to address the cornerback position include the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, and Dallas Cowboys.
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