Player Spotlight: LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Daniels became the third LSU player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Daniels became the third LSU player to win the Heisman Trophy. / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Name: Jayden Daniels
Position: Quarterback
School: LSU
Age (Draft Day): 23
Height/Weight: 6'3", 210 lbs


Much like Joe Burrow before him, Daniels piloted a prolific LSU offense, complete with two elite receivers, and took home a Heisman Trophy for his troubles. Unfortunately for Daniels, LSU's defense was nowhere near what it was in 2019, which was the difference between the Tigers being a national championship contender and finishing 10-3 with a win in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

Daniels and Burrow have very different playstyles, but both came from off the radar to set records, win awards and, most likely, get selected in the top 5 of the NFL draft. Burrow went No. 1 overall. Daniels won't go that high, but could wind up being the second player selected. He is an electric playmaker who has a ton of starting experience and unbelievable production from his final year in school.


Mobility: This is what makes Daniels a special prospect. He is incredibly difficult to corral in the pocket and he has blazing open field speed. He can extend plays and he can make defenses pay if they lack discipline in their rush lanes. He is in a category with Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III when it comes to his rushing ability.

Decision making: Daniels completely changed his game after arriving at LSU from Arizona State. He cut down on the interceptions, taking much better care of the football. He then took it a step further in 2023, pushing the ball down the field while still avoiding turning the ball over. Daniels led the nation in air yards per attempt this past season, but only threw four interceptions.

Deep ball: I just mentioned Daniels' penchant for pushing the ball down the field in 2023. He benefited from having two great receivers in Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., but Daniels deserves a lot of credit as well. He can drop the ball in a bucket over defenders and has great weight on those downfield passes.


Frame: Daniels weighed in at 210 pounds at his Pro Day, but I'm not buying that number at all. He was listed at 181 pounds by LSU earlier this year and he looks every bit of it. For as elusive and explosive he might be as a runner, he can get absolutely trucked by defenders. He will need to find a way to fill out his frame without compromising his speed.

Ball placement: For as accurate as Daniels can be as a passer, particularly down the field, his ball placement is a bit spotty. He will throw to the wrong shoulder at times on back-shoulder routes. He can miss low or lead his target too much, especially on shorter routes.

Arm Strength: Daniels has adequate zip and range on his throws, but his arm has its limitations. He can hang up the occasional deep ball. He also lacks the elite pace on his throws to make up for when he is late on a read or makes a split-second choice to fire a pass into a tight window. His arm is NFL caliber, but far from elite.

NFL Comparison: Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III
Oklahoma v Baylor / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Daniels bears similarities to both RGIII and Lamar Jackson, but I opted for Griffin because I don't think Daniels' arm is as strong as Jackson's. Griffin was off to an impressive start to his career before injuries derailed him. He was a natural athlete whose dual-threat ability made him a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Daniels should learn from Griffin's plight and focus on protecting his body in the NFL to extend his career.

NFL Draft Outlook: Top 5 pick

Daniels' draft range starts with Washington at No. 2 overall. The Commanders need a quarterback in a big way and Daniels feels like a natural fit for Kliff Kingsbury's system. If he makes it past two, the Patriots will certainly be interested. After that, expect teams to explore trading into the top five to select him if he continues to fall.

Grade: 89