The look at the New York Giants and their potential 2012 NFL Draft picks continues with Duke safety Matt Daniels.
Daniels is a late round prospect who has limited upside as a safety in the NFL. He has typical size at 6-0, 215 pounds for a safety and was clocked in the 40-yard dash during his pro day at 4.48 which is excellent.
Daniels is an in-the-box safety who is excellent against the run. He reads the play well and seems to put himself right where the running back is going to be before the running back knows and lays down some punishing hits. Last season, at Duke, Daniels recorded 126 tackles and 2 interceptions. In 2010, Daniels recorded 93 tackles and 1 pick and recorded 83 tackles and 1 pick in 2009. Daniels was 1st Team All-ACC and 2nd Team All American in 2011. On film, Daniels seems to be in on every play and will make an open field tackle.
Daniels’ strength comes against the run. Against the pass he struggles at times. He doesn’t have elite speed and can sometimes struggle when asked to perform man-to-man coverage. However, he will occasionally make a play and can stay with tight ends and slower receivers. There were times that Daniels would play a little off his man at times, focused on issuing the punishing hit rather than preventing the play from happening. He will also lead with head too much and that can lead to some trouble in Roger Goodell’s NFL.
Daniels will be a late round pick and the Giants need depth at safety. Deon Grant will not be coming back. Tyler Sash, a 6th round draft pick last season was very good on special teams but struggled in pass coverage. The Giants won’t be counting on Chad Jones to make a full comeback from an auto accident after being made the third round draft choice of the Giants in 2010 but he should be able to finally participate in a camp this coming season. The Giants signed Chris Horton and Steve Brown but both of those players are being brought in for depth and competition. Incumbent starters Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle are both excellent but Phillips has an injury history with his knees and is entering his final year of his contract and the Giants would like to add depth here.
Daniels would bring to the Giants a fire at the safety position. He relishes making the big hit and will thrive on special teams. I wouldn’t depend on Daniels to start in the NFL but he could be a very good depth player who contributes on special teams and will make a big hit on defense when needed. He is a very smart football player and he could probably fake it as a starter for a year or two in the NFL but he can excel on special teams and as an extra defensive back. The Giants sometimes liked to employ a linebacker/defensive back hybrid last season and Daniels fits that position like a dream. The Giants could do a lot worse with their later round picks than this kid. He will contribute.