We've talked about DeAndre McDaniel here at Field Gulls a few times in the past few months and it came as a pretty big surprise that he went undrafted. Some outlets had him highly rated, even as high as the 2nd round, but normally around the 3rd or 4th rounds. For whatever reason though, he was passed over by all teams in the Draft.
I wrote earlier this year that 'McDaniel was extremely productive for Clemson's defense, with 12 interceptions and 173 tackles in the last two seasons. He played next to Byron Maxwell on their defense and like Maxwell, is a fearsome and intimidating hitter. He played at times as a safety/linebacker hybrid so he's comfortable taking on the run and he's swift enough to keep up with receivers in passing situations. He's got good instinct, evidenced by his 12 interceptions in two years, and is another ballhawk type that could make the Hawks' nickel and bandit defensive packages that much more effective. By most accounts his draft stock was estimated around the 3rd or 4th rounds but he fell out of the draft all together due to character concerns (assault in '08) so McDaniel could be a bargain for whichever team he signs with, provided he keeps his head on straight.'
The assault I mentioned, against his girlfriend, happened in 2008 and he, according to his CBS Draft profile, "accepted a pre-trial intervention and community service. (He) has since matured into an Honor Roll student and team captain. In 2009, he won a Vickery Hall award for academic improvement, earning a 3.25 GPA in the first semester and 3.0 in the second, and was named to the 2009-10 ACC Academic Honor Roll." It would seem, from the outside looking in, that he really put that behind him.
Mocking the Draft put together a good scouting report on McDaniel and his 'strengths' section was interesting: "Strengths: Clemson was often able to use McDaniel to cover the slot receiver and he did an exemplary job. He can be physical at the line and really push the receiver around. Understands how a play is going to develop and has the look of a smart football player. McDaniel was also used in the linebacker/safety spot at times. It took advantage of his strong play against the run. McDaniel takes good angles to the ball and doesn't get held up on blocks. Looks to have good playing speed to chase down the ball carrier. Is a fundamentally sound tackler, but really likes to lay out opponents. Closes with a lot of quickness. Known as a film-room warrior."
So, as Dan Kadar notes, he is physical at the line. He can really push the receiver around. He is a smart football player. He is used in the linebacker/safety spot at times. He plays strong against the run. Good tackler. Film-room warrior.
I realize I'm looking at his strengths and ignoring the following weaknesses section, but that reads almost verbatim to what Pete Carroll seems to want in his safeties and defensive backs. Coming back to reality though, it's most likely that McDaniel would be brought on for special teams and spot "Bandit" work, and his experience with the linebacker/safety position could have prepared him pretty well for that role. Vasilii and I have talked about this position a little bit lately along with the hybrid safety/cornerback position as well. These tweener type players do have specific and important roles in the Seahawks' defense and a guy like McDaniel that can intimidate and dominate a slot player at the line but also play deep in coverage and hold up against the run can be useful.
Either way, he's an intriguing rookie free agent that I could see the Seahawks taking a look at.
Below are a couple prospect videos put together, first, by the always excellent Aaron Aloysius, and shows McDaniel in action (in '09), and second, put together by JMPasq. Keep in mind these are not 'highlight' videos, but rather just sequences of plays in which he was involved. From what I can see he appears to take good angles on the runner. He sniffs out the run well when he needs to and displays good instincts on two deep passes by getting back and picking them off (big in the Seahawks' defense). He tackles well. Seems to have good ball skills. Overall, impressive tape.