Daniel has as much athletic talent to play his position as any other running back in this draft. He has excellent size and decent speed. He shows on film solid hands out of the backfield along with having good vision to make a player miss in the open field. Daniel has the bulk to take the pounding at the next level that a franchise back needs to stay on the field and away from injury. Daniel looks to be smart and understands situational football. He has nice feet and balance when cutting in the hole and looks like he would have the strength to move the ball on third down and short or in goal-line situations. So the question is this: With all of this ability, why isn't Daniel considered one of the better and most talked about running backs in this draft?
The answer to the last question is because Daniel does not show the mental toughness needed at the next level to be a franchise back. He has the talent, but doesn't like to get hit. Daniel does not bring the ball up through the tackles with authority because he plays too high and is easy to tackle in the hole. In the open field, he plays like a smaller running back, but lacks the burst and quickness to play like that at the next level. I get the impression that Daniel is playing at the college level to not get hurt. Fumbling may be a big problem for Daniel at the next level because he doesn't like to get hit hard.
My guess is that Daniel would prefer to be a third down back at the next level in spite of his skill and ability to be considered a franchise back. My thinking is that Daniel knows that, as a big third down back, he will stay in the NFL a lot longer without the pressure of being considered the man and make almost as much money through longevity. It's not a bad plan as long as Daniel learns how to block, read defense and has the quickness to make people miss him in the open field. If he can throw in a really good run every other game and a few goal line screens with no fumbles with a few TD's thrown in for good measure then poof... you have yourself a big third down back. Maybe I'm wrong -- maybe Daniel will start to run with authority through the tackles and become the franchise back his talents and size suggest that he can become. Either way, drafting Daniel later in the draft is not a bad deal because, even if he just becomes that big third down back, that's a good thing. I have seen running backs many times that do not seem to run through the tackles transform themselves in the NFL. Two that come to mind are Willis McGhee (RB Ravens) and Marshawn Lynch (RB Seahawks). Both of these backs in college liked to bounce the ball outside and did not run through the tackles with the authority they have now at the NFL level. So I'm open to Daniel's abilities at the next level. However, for the purposes of this draft, I have to go with what I see right now and his lack of quickness concerns me.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Jan/11