There’s plenty of buzz surrounding players at the top of the draft class, but there have been several instances of players who are overlooked and go as late picks who make a statement and name for themselves against the odds.
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels has made his presence well-known in the Pac-12, as he’s considered either the best or one of the best signal-callers in the conference by multiple outlets. To this point in the season, the junior has an impressive completion percentage of 72.6% with 808 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. He also has 36 rushing attempts for 248 yards with a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
The latter part is where he’s garnered the most attention—he could certainly afford to improve that touchdown-to-interception ratio and turn more of those passing attempts into touchdowns, but it’s clear that he’s successfully delivering the ball more times than not. Many coaches are ideally happy with a quarterback who can hang around a 65% completion percentage, so 72.6% is exceeding the expectations.
In regards to what he can do on the ground, the numbers should garner some respect for Daniels. Those 248 rushing yards are good to make him the top rushing quarterback in the league and among the top 10 strongest rushers in the league this year. According to Pro Football Focus, Daniels graded out as the third-best offensive player through Week 4.
It will be interesting to watch how Daniels continues to progress as Arizona State takes on a No. 20-ranked UCLA Bruins team on Saturday night in Rose Bowl Stadium. This is the same team that upset LSU earlier this season, and between that and the ranking, it’s a quality opponent for Daniels to go against as he looks to continue to prove himself.
UCLA has one of the tougher run defenses in the country, so Daniels may not be able to do as much with his legs as we’re used to seeing. If he’s forced to use his arm more frequently, it will give us an even clearer picture of how much he can do as a pure passer.
There’s no denying this one is a thing of beauty:
Daniels has looked efficient moving the ball downfield on several occasions but has also had games where ASU seems to pass the ball and then use the run game to find the end zone. That may not be a reliable strategy this time around if the Bruins are what we think they can be in regards to containing the run.
The Sun Devils quarterback completed 18-of-25 passes for 236 yards, failing to get a scoring pass to the end zone but putting up a pair of touchdowns with his legs last week when Arizona State took down the Colorado Buffaloes, 35-13. Looking at those numbers and the overall outing, Daniels is a plenty-competent passer as a dual-threat (which is something several quarterbacks labeled as dual-threat fail to do in the modern era). It would just be a bit more convincing all around to watch this offense put up more points through the air.
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