The Seattle Seahawks’ pre-draft process continues, and the front office’s fascination with unique athletes is front and center with this one:
Get familiar with @Utah_Football's Braeden Daniels! Lots of buzz in league circles for @B_Daniels71— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) March 25, 2023
Combine Formals: #Titans, #Dolphins, #Cardinals, #49ers. Top 30 with #Seahawks soon. https://t.co/qxaMCX9XbG
Coincidentally, I had read an article about Braeden Daniels a couple days before someone sent me that tweet, and I had already done some research on him.
Here are the fastest 40 times for offensive linemen at the 2023 NFL Combine:
- 4.97 seconds: Broderick Jones (Georgia)
- 4.98 seconds: Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) and Blake Freeland (BYU)
- 4.99 seconds: Jordan McFadden (Clemson) and Braeden Daniels (Utah)
Here are the highest Relative Athletic Scores (RAS) for offensive linemen at this year’s Combine:
- 9.95 for OG Jon Gaines II (UCLA)
- 9.93 for Sidy Sow (Eastern Michigan)
- 9.82 for OT Blake Freeland (BYU)
- 9.65 for OL Braeden Daniels (Utah)
Here’s the full calculation of his 9.65 RAS score:
Admittedly, Braeden Daniels is relatively tiny compared to the first O-lineman that the Seahawks brought in for a Top-30 visit this year . . .
- Dawand Jones: 6-8, 374, 36.375-inch arm length, 11.625-inch hands
- Braeden Daniels: 6-4, 294, 33-inch arm length, 9.375-inch hands
- Difference: Daniels is 4 inches shorter and 80 pounds lighter; his arms are 3.375 inches shorter and his hands are 2.25 inches smaller.
There aren’t many humans bigger than Dawand Jones though, so it’s not exactly a fair comparison.
Positional versatility and solid results
Braeden Daniels started 43 games for the Utah Utes, including 18 at Left Guard, 14 at Left Tackle, and 11 at Right Tackle.
Progression-wise, Daniels started at Left Guard first, moved to Right Tackle for the 3rd game of the 2021 season (and finished the season there), then started every game at Left Tackle in 2022.
Per PFF, Daniels played 2,942 offensive snaps during his college career, including 1,463 pass-block snaps. Across 5 seasons (2018-2022), he allowed a total of 5 sacks, 5 hits, and 48 hurries.
Here is the full breakdown:
- 2018: 13 offensive snaps, 2 pass-block snaps, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries
- 2019: 870 offensive snaps, 401 pass-block snaps, 3 sacks, 2 hits, 20 hurries
- 2020: 134 offensive snaps, 74 pass-block snaps, 1 sack, 0 hits, 1 hurry
- 2021: 959 offensive snaps, 473 pass-block snaps, 1 sack, 2 hits, 13 hurries
- 2022: 966 offensive snaps, 513 pass-block snaps, 0 sacks, 1 hit, 14 hurries
Daniels on Daniels
Asked recently what position he’d be most comfortable playing at the next level, Braeden Daniels said:
I would definitely say I’m most comfortable at tackle because that’s where I’ve played for the past two seasons. I also understand that I’d be a smaller tackle as far as the NFL goes. I’m self-aware. The goal is to come in and maybe have some great seasons at an interior position. Going forward, I can get a team out of a bad position at swing tackle where necessary.
When asked about feedback he’s gotten from the NFL coaches he’s met with regarding his future position, Daniels said:
I’ve heard feedback all over the board. Some coaches have told me that I’d be a good problem to have (laughs). They can plug me in anywhere, whether it’s guard, tackle, or center.
I’ve had some opportunities to play the center position at practice. I’ve never gotten any in-game reps at center, but I’m familiar with the position. Being able to play all five positions will help my NFL team. I want to help however I can. I take a lot of pride in that.
Wait, did Daniels say that he knows how to play Center?
Yes. Yes, he did.
What do the scouts say?
(Daniels) does well to take advantage of angles in the run game and create movement. As a pass blocker, he keeps his feet engaged, operates from a balanced base, and does well to stay square. After spending more than three seasons at left guard, he did a superb job of switching to right tackle after two weeks in 2021 and then playing left tackle for all of 2022. He looks very natural framing blocks on the perimeter and protecting the width of the pocket. Daniels does well to keep his feet engaged and play with sound leverage. Daniels is an effective blocker in space where his control and athleticism shines.
. . .
While I believe Daniels could function at tackle in the NFL, his best position might be on the inside at guard.
* Has good footwork and technique. Balanced and agile pass protection set with excellent hand placement.
* He’s infinitely coachable and athletically gifted with the ideal frame, physique, weight distribution, knee bend and hand strength to be molded into a special blocker.
* Is effective when asked to pull, showing the agility, speed, and overall range to get out as a lead blocker, where Daniels locates defenders and shows the ability to adjust and land blocks against linebackers.
* Not physically imposing and has average overall strength. Upper body gets over his feet too often and he easily loses his balance.
* He’s a bit underpowered the more he has to move in the run game, better in a phone booth than out in space.
How does Daniels fit in Seattle?
Given that the Seahawks drafted their bookend tackles last year, and the fact that Braeden Daniels is commonly projected as an interior lineman in the NFL, Phil Haynes and (to a lesser extent) Damien Lewis should be looking over their shoulders if Daniels joins them in Seattle.
Both are free agents after the 2023 season, and both have had their share of struggles the last few years.
Based on his PFF grades, 2022 was Haynes’ worst year as a pro. In his defense, he was platooning with Gabe Jackson all season long (which is tough) and he was often the better of the two (as evidenced by the 1-year, $4M contract he signed in February, and the fact that Jackson was released).
2022 was a massive step forward for Lewis (again, based on PFF grades). He had career-high grades in pass blocking (73.1) and overall score (72.5), and while his run-blocking grade (67.2) paled in comparison to his rookie year (83.5), it was a 6-9-point improvement from 2021 (which is when he moved from RG to LG).
Compared to their peers league-wide:
- Pass-blocking: Lewis ranked 27th, Haynes was 74th
- Run-blocking: Lewis tied for 25th, Haynes was 71st
- Overall: Lewis finished at #13, Haynes finished at #78
Should Braeden Daniels end up in Seattle, he will undoubtedly have a chance to compete for a starting spot at RG and/or LG in 2023.
If he loses the camp battle(s), he would enter the 2023 season as a backup (at up to 4 positions, maybe 5) and potentially give the Seahawks some leverage during contract negotiations with Lewis and/or Haynes next offseason.