Lazar's Pro Day Tour: Inside Jayden Daniels's Workout and Other Notable Patriots Takeaways From LSU's Pro Day

by 24USATVMarch 28, 2024, 5 a.m. 22
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For some, non-padded workouts without any opposition lined up across from players are overrated. How much real football application do drills against air have when evaluating players? These workouts are more about confirming the tape and face time with top decision-makers. If the draft is like building a house, Pro Days are like the finishes, while the film is the foundation. There's also a personal element to understanding how players are wired and what motivates them to be great at the next level.

As a substantial decision looms for the Patriots with the third overall draft pick next month, New England sent nine staffers to evaluate quarterback Jayden Daniels and his top receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. in their showcase at LSU's indoor practice facility in Baton Rouge.

With head coach Jerod Mayo and director of scouting Eliot Wolf leading the charge, the Patriots were well represented with Matt Groh, Alonzo Highsmith, Patrick Stewart, Camren Williams, Alex Van Pelt, Ben McAdoo, and T.C. McCartney in attendance. Daniels confirmed reports that he'll meet privately with the Patriots brass on Wednesday night, opting to keep his Tuesday night schedule clear to focus on his Pro Day.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner didn't do any athletic testing in the pre-draft process as one of the most dynamic runners to enter the draft in years. Daniels's weight is likely inflated slightly from his playing weight last season, which many thought hovered around the 195-pound mark. Still, his lean, athletic physique could easily carry more weight as he bulks up in an NFL strength and conditioning program.

From a body type standpoint, Daniels looks like an NBA star as a long, trimmed athlete who will add more muscle now that he's turning pro. According to LSU head coach Brian Kelly, the number one question for teams pertains to Daniels's durability and reckless running style.

"Will he slide?" Kelly joked when asked about the NFL team's concerns with Daniels at the next level. The LSU head coach said questions seldom steer toward Daniels's ability to make throws or process defenses. Instead, it's all about self-preservation, and weighing in at 210 pounds will help quell some concerns.

The other noticeable intangible quality to Daniels's profile is how well he interacted with teammates on Wednesday. Whether it was somewhat performative or not, Daniels was highly engaged while sitting out the athletic testing portion to support his teammates. For what it's worth, it looked genuine, especially when he ran down to the other end of the field to celebrate with Nabers after his go-to receiver ran his 40-yard dash. There's a lot of love between Daniels, Nabers, and Thomas Jr. that has been palpable throughout the pre-draft process.

Furthermore, rather than wearing his own number, Daniels wore the No. 3 for teammate Greg Brooks Jr., who was diagnosed with cancer last season. Daniels seems like a high-character individual, with LSU staffers praising his humbleness and sense of humor.

As for his throwing session, Daniels threw for 20-plus minutes to all three levels of the field. He started with short and intermediate throws with five and ten-yard outs, hitches, seams, crossers, corners, and passes into the flats. He took drop-backs from under center to flex those muscles and then finished the workout by airing it out to Nabers and Thomas Jr.

Overall, there were more missed throws than you'd expect for a Pro Day from Daniels, who had five incompletions during the session where he overthrew his intended target. Mainly, he had two misses to the left sideline, which seemed like he was trying to show off his arm strength a little too much. With that said, there wasn't any reason to overreact to the workout.

Daniels's smooth, effortless throwing motion and compact release generate velocity when he drives the ball downfield. His upper body is extremely flexible, producing power with a torquing motion, which allows him to zip the ball around from different arm angles. With his natural throwing motion, Daniels can easily get the ball where it needs to go.

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