He was a five-star recruit who was second only to Trevor Lawrence in the quarterback class of 2018. J.T. Daniels should be considered one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft in an ideal world. However, football isn’t played in a perfect world. The Georgia QB’s career has followed a tumultuous trajectory compared to the former Clemson signal-caller. He might not be heading up the leading group of passers as we approach the season, but does his scouting report indicate the potential to pounce up draft boards this fall?
J.T. Daniels NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 210 pounds
J.T. Daniels Scouting Report
Often considered the most cerebral of positions, let’s begin Daniels’ scouting report with his football intelligence. During his high school career and early time at USC, Daniels was lauded for his commitment to learning and understanding all game areas. This is apparent in his film. Daniels is capable of making pre-snap reads and adjusting the offense as required. Once the ball is snapped, he demonstrates the ability to read the entire field.
Daniels also has experience lining up under center and in shotgun formations. Although not necessarily related to football intelligence, that experience will help smooth his transition from the college level to the NFL.
The Georgia QB has an NFL-caliber arm. He routinely makes accurate intermediate and short-area passes. Furthermore, he demonstrates anticipation on these passes, putting his receiver in a position to make extra yardage after the catch. In his short career as the Georgia QB, Daniels has shown the ability to drive the ball to the deep third in Todd Monken’s vertical offense. Additionally, he can put enough zip on the ball to throw across his body.
Although he won’t earn any dual-threat monikers, Daniels has impressive athleticism as far as pocket maneuverability. He is light on his feet and can change direction quickly, making him elusive within the pocket. When the Georgia QB does get hit, which we’ll get to shortly, Daniels displays exceptional competitive toughness. He can rebound from a significant impact, gather himself, and stand firm in the pocket the next play.
Areas for improvement
Having praised Daniels’ ability to maneuver in the pocket, let’s start with pocket presence as an area for improvement on his scouting report. Although he has some elusiveness in the pocket, he also takes too many sacks. Daniels needs to work on getting the ball away quicker in dangerous situations.
Standing at 6’3″, Daniels has decent size to play the position in the NFL. However, there were a large number of batted passes during the games studied. He needs to ensure that he consistently clears the line of scrimmage cleanly with his passes to elevate his NFL Draft stock.
Despite having the requisite arm strength to drive the ball to the deep third, there is room for improvement. The Georgia QB’s deep shots can hang in the air, requiring the receiver to slow down in his route rather than hitting him in stride. There are also some deep ball accuracy issues that Daniels will need to clean up in the upcoming college football season.
J.T. Daniels Player Profile
Ascensions to high school greatness don’t come much quicker than Daniels’ career at Mater Dei High School. The Irvine native flashed his considerable talent as a freshman, racking up 3,042 passing yards with 33 touchdowns. Although his accuracy required some development, completing just 55.6% of his passes, the Mater Dei QB threw a mere 4 interceptions. Earning first-team Freshman All-American honors in 2015, it was clear that Daniels was a prodigious talent.
That became even more apparent in 2016 as Daniels tore through the Orange County record books. The talented young QB with a cannon for an arm threw 4,849 yards and 67 touchdowns as Mater Dei went 13-1. While the team finished as the CIF Division 1 runner-up, Daniels furnished his home with every conceivable award. Most notably, he was named the Sophomore All-American Player of the Year and the Gatorade Californian Player of the Year.
Understandably, colleges took notice of the Californian kid
Heading into his junior campaign , he held a laundry list of offers as the top quarterback recruit in the 2019 class. As a five-star prospect, he earned bids from major programs such as LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M. However, home was truly where the heart was for the young QB. In committing to USC before his junior season, Daniels commented:
“USC is where I’m from. It’s where I’m most comfortable, and there was no reason to leave when I have everything I want right here.”
As Daniels once again helped Mater Dei dominate the Californian high school scene, the soon-to-be USC QB had ideas on leaping to the college level sooner rather than later. Sitting at 5-0, Daniels and his family informed the Mater Dei head coach that he would reclassify and graduate a year early. With the decision made, he guided them to an undefeated season and a national championship, the school’s first in 18 years.
An otherworldly high school talent, Daniels became the first junior ever to be the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
J.T. Daniels’ college football career
Daniels had no intention of graduating early to be the backup QB for USC. On September 1, he became only the second Trojans true freshman to start under center in a season opener when he took the first snap against UNLV. Daniels threw for 282 yards and a touchdown in the 43-21 victory.
Although it would be an ultimately disappointing 5-7 season for USC, it was littered with highlights for their QB. Daniels threw for his first 300+ yard game against Texas. Meanwhile, he ended the season with impressive performances against UCLA and Notre Dame. In completing 72.5% of his passes against the Fighting Irish, the USC QB threw for a career-high 349 yards.
The performance in the season finale against Notre Dame elevated expectations for the 2019 season. Yet, while leading the Trojans to an opening day victory over Fresno State, Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter. He had to sit and watch Kedon Slovis come in and deliver an 8-5 season, including a 7-2 conference record.
Daniels transfers to Georgia ahead of 2020 season
With it becoming increasingly apparent that Slovis would be leading the offense in the future, Daniels entered the college football transfer portal in April 2020. Although Georgia added Jamie Newman to their roster of quarterbacks, the former USC QB headed across the country to Athens for his redshirt-sophomore season.
As he continued his recovery from injury, Daniels found himself behind D’Wan Mathis and Stetson Bennett IV on the Georgia depth chart following Newman’s decision to opt out of the 2020 college football season. Despite being medically cleared after the season opener against Arkansas, it wouldn’t be until the Mississippi State game in late November that Kirby Smart would chuck Daniels into the fray.
The Georgia QB instantly upgraded the Bulldogs’ offense. Daniels threw for 401 yards and 4 touchdowns on his starting debut. Meanwhile, he completed 73.7% of his passes. His first game in over a year earned him the SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week Award in addition to being named the Maxwell Award Player of the Week.
Daniels led Georgia to four consecutive wins, scoring over 30 points in all but one game. In the Peach Bowl victory over Cincinnati, he helped engineer a second-half comeback, totaling 392 yards and a touchdown while throwing a season-long 55-yard pass. The Georgia QB’s performances down the stretch helped lift the Bulldogs’ offense while serving as a reminder of his 2022 NFL Draft class credentials.