The Kansas Jayhawks take on the Texas Longhorns in Week 5 of the college football season, marking the biggest game of the season for the 24th-ranked team in the nation. Star quarterback and future NFL Draft prospect Jalon Daniels has been dealing with a back injury since the offseason that has limited his game action this season.
Will he play against Texas?
Jalon Daniels Injury Update
Only 20 minutes before kickoff, Michael Swain of 247Sports reported that Daniels did not take practice reps with the offense during pregame warmups. Instead, senior backup Jason Bean was on the field. He added that he had not seen Daniels on the field since earlier portions of warmups.
Jalon Daniels did not take reps with the team during the final portion of pre-game warmups. Jason Bean ran with the 1s.
I've not seen Daniels on the field since the early part of warmups. #KUfball
— Michael Swain (@MSwain247) September 30, 2023
Although Daniels was not considered likely to miss this week, ESPN reported during the broadcast that he reaggravated the back strain that caused him to miss the team’s season opener. Daniels was a late scratch on the eve of the team’s biggest game in years.
Jalon Daniels Scouting Report
- He is an electric dual-threat presence who stresses defenses with his legs and arm.
- Balances being aggressive downfield while taking care of the ball.
- Possesses good arm strength and is capable of making full-field throws when his lower body generates torque.
- Reads the leverage of defenders at an advanced level, allowing him to beat coverage with a quick throw or show patience when his target must clear their defender.
- Quicker than fast when scrambling, allowing him to dodge would-be tacklers and find space outside of the pocket.
- Truly a gamer who will make big plays when his team needs it most.
- Has continued to progress as a pocket passer each year, improving his mechanics and decision-making while being more aggressive.
- Has good physical tools but lacks an especially strong arm or speed compared to his NFL peers. He won’t carry an offense but merely efficiently complement his surrounding pieces.
- His pocket management has major room for improvement as Daniels will drift too far back as he surveys the field or will break a clean pocket early.
- Can do better to keep his feet aligned with his upper body, staying ready to throw or scramble when needed.
- His velocity suffers when his torso and lower body don’t help his follow through, leading to passes dying on him at the catch point.
- Has to protect his body better as a rusher; he missed four games in 2022 due to a shoulder injury.
- Advanced passing concepts are absent from Kansas’ offense, so he’ll have to learn to work the entire field at the next level.
Current Draft Projection and Summary
Adding an efficient, dual-threat jitterbug with vast experience at the collegiate level has a few major downsides for NFL teams. With the need growing for competent backups who can help their team avoid disaster if a starter goes down, players like Daniels will see their stock rise.
Seeing Daniels’ ability to learn from Year 1 to now has been a great sign for his future outlook. He’s overcome a limited supporting cast while increasing his average target depth and avoiding mistakes. His path to the NFL is similar to Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s.
Daniels’ skill set is encouraging, but his physical traits fall a bit short of where standout NFL starters are. His arm is good enough when his body is aligned, and he launches into throws, but it’s also not dynamic enough to count on under true chaos. He’s also not an explosive runner you want taking off for big gains unless he has to.
He’s in the strange middle gap where he can be trusted to play but is not gifted enough to be more than a stopgap. There’s middle-round value for a high-end backup, and Daniels projects in that early Day 3 range.
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