In a 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class that appears to have more questions than answers, Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels is a conundrum of his own. A promising freshman campaign has been tempered by a dramatically shortened sophomore season, leaving the jigsaw puzzle incomplete. His scouting report reveals that while Daniels has the pieces to emerge as a top prospect, there are also some areas for development before he ascends in the class.
Jayden Daniels NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Arizona State
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 185 pounds
Jayden Daniels Scouting Report
Does Daniels have what it takes to be a bonafide NFL Draft prospect? The positive elements of his scouting report would suggest so. There are aspects of the Arizona State quarterback’s game that translate to the NFL level as well as any prospect in the class.
The likes of Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson have built upon Michael Vick’s heritage to redefine the position. The ability to create and extend plays outside of the pocket is almost paramount now. Being a dual-threat quarterback isn’t a prerequisite for NFL success, but it definitely helps.
Daniels excels in this regard. He has exceptional athletic ability. The mobile quarterback has reportedly run a 4.5 40-yard dash, with speed apparent on tape. He isn’t flashy in the same way that say Malik Willis is, you won’t find him ripping off spin moves or juking in the open field, but he can eat up yardage as a runner. Furthermore, he has deceptive illusiveness for his 6’3″ build.
Daniels’ athletic ability is also demonstrated in his ability to maneuver in the pocket. He can evade pressure effortlessly. He also has the vision to find a hole and escape for yardage on the ground.
Daniels possesses the arm talent to complement his athletic ability
All this is for naught if a quarterback can’t throw the ball. Luckily for Daniels, that isn’t an issue. The Arizona State star has impressive arm strength to drive the ball to all three levels of the field. Furthermore, he gets the ball out with zip on short and intermediate-level throws. In the games studied, he also showed the ability to get the ball out quickly when required.
Daniels displays excellent skills when he is asked to combine the two facets of his game. When throwing on the run, he keeps his eyes downfield, searching for an open target. Additionally, he can throw across his body while on the move.
Daniels currently has an ace up his sleeve over some of his contemporaries in the NFL Draft class. While there are decision-making questions with multiple prospects, Daniels is strong in this regard. He knows when he can be aggressive but can utilize check-downs when required.
Areas for improvement
Despite a glowing beginning to Daniels’ scouting report, there are some improvements that he needs to show this fall.
So, what’s the skinny on his downside? Well, there is just that. At 185 pounds on a 6’3″ frame, the Arizona State QB is noticeably fragile looking. He needs to add some bulk to his frame if he is to survive the rigors of the NFL.
That, of course, will need to be achieved without the trade-off of his mobility.
Although his arm talent and strength are impressive, there’s room for improvement there too. In the games studied, his deep ball accuracy was wildly inconsistent. The tape was littered with overthrows to the deep third. Even some of his shorter passes were off-target at times. Daniels has shown he can place the ball well with timing and anticipation — it just needs to be more consistent.
Whether it is a by-product of the above two concerns or not, Daniels needs to learn to trust himself in the pocket more. There is a propensity to escape the pocket prematurely rather than work to read the whole field before taking off.
Jayden Daniels’ Player Profile
While Daniels currently resides in a group of NFL Draft prospects who are primed to challenge the assumed elite of Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell, there was no doubting his prestigious and electric talent helped him stand out at the high school level.
A four-year starter with a 44-10 record, Daniels ripped up the record books during his reign at Cajon High School. His 14,007 passing yards and 170 touchdowns throughout his career were a CIF Southern Section record in both metrics. Demonstrating the dual-threat playmaking ability that makes him an intriguing NFL Draft prospect, Daniels added 3,045 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns to his Cajon career.
During a junior season where Daniels led his team to a 14-2 record, he set a state record for total offense with over 6,000 total yards. Additionally, he totaled 77 touchdowns while throwing just 5 interceptions. He again broke the 6,000 all-purpose yard mark as a senior while adding another 76 touchdowns to his résumé.
Unsurprisingly, the Under Armour All-American attracted significant collegiate interest. A four-star prospect who was the No. 2 ranked dual-threat QB in the 2019 class, Daniels drew comparisons to Deshaun Watson.
As is to be expected from a San Bernardino native, he was heavily courted by Pac-12 programs. However, national interest included Ohio State, Alabama, and Georgia, amongst 25 total offers. Despite the national interest, Daniels only visited four Pac-12 schools — Arizona State, Cal, UCLA, and Utah.
Career at Arizona State
Having remained uncommitted throughout his high school career, Daniels announced his decision to join the Sun Devils just one week before National Signing Day. Somewhat fittingly, Arizona State had been a late arrival to his recruitment party, but Daniels had been impressed with the atmosphere and family environment in Tempe.
The Sun Devils had also shown a propensity to play their freshman, which appealed to the talented young quarterback. Daniels knew he would have a shot to play at Arizona State right away. Sure enough, he won the quarterback battle ahead of the 2019 season.
In doing so, he became the first true freshman Sun Devils’ signal-caller to start at quarterback in a season opener. In that start against Kent State, he demonstrated his dual-threat ability with his first passing and rushing touchdowns while becoming only the third freshman quarterback in program history to win their first start.
Daniels continued to be electric throughout his freshman campaign. In 12 starts, he threw for 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding 3 touchdowns and 355 yards on the ground. The Arizona State quarterback had four games with 3 touchdown passes, including against Oregon. He also achieved a career-high 408 passing yards against the Ducks.
On top of demonstrating a big arm, Daniels displayed impressive decision-making acumen for a young collegiate quarterback in his freshman campaign. He threw just 2 interceptions all season, tying for the fewest by any quarterback in the nation with over 200 pass attempts.
Sophomore season for the Sun Devils is stymied by the global situation
With his freshman performances earning him an honorable mention for the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and a spot on multiple watchlists before the 2020 college football season, much was expected for Daniels and Arizona State in his sophomore season.
However, expectations were put on hold with the impact of a global situation hitting the Pac-12 harder than almost every other conference. Daniels played in just four games this past fall. He completed only 58% of his passes and tallied just 701 yards at a vastly reduced 175.3 yards per game.
Despite this, there were bright spots for the young quarterback. During a loss to USC, he tallied a career-high 111 rushing yards. Further demonstrating his mettle as a mobile quarterback, he ran in twice for his first multiple rushing touchdown game in the season finale against Oregon State. Moreover, he averaged an impressive 6.8 yards per carry.
Although a dark cloud hangs over Arizona State, Daniels has provided a preseason silver lining for the Sun Devils ahead of his junior season. He earned second-team preseason All-Pac-12 recognition, in addition to landing on multiple watchlists.
Can Daniels build on that acknowledgment of his talent and emerge as a potential early-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft? Right now, he projects as a third-round prospect. However, there’s undoubted upside for him to be in the conversation alongside the likes of Desmond Ridder, Kedon Slovis, and Malik Willis as the best of the rest.