The Georgia Bulldogs will have a full quarterback room in 2020, including redshirt sophomore/USC transfer JT Daniels. Further, there is graduate transfer Jamie Newman, true freshman Carson Beck, and junior Stetson Bennett. That will likely be the order of the depth chart this season. Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis, freshman Jackson Muschamp, redshirt freshman/Nevada transfer Austin Kirksey, and redshirt freshman Nathan Priestley will likely be the guys on the practice squad for the Bulldogs this year.
Georgia Bulldogs Quarterback Room: JT Daniels
With the Georgia Bulldogs having a lot of quarterback options, JT Daniels is projected to back-up Newman this season. Coming from the opposite coast, Daniels will likely push Newman in training camps, but ultimately he is likely going to be the second-string quarterback this season. However, he could potentially be the starter next season.
Time to Develop – At just 20 years old, Daniels has plenty of time to fix any hitches he currently has in his game. Sitting back and watching for a season can do a quarterback a lot of good. Being able to learn the system and get a bit of chemistry with his receivers could be what helps make Daniels into a future star for the Bulldogs.
Mechanics – When not under pressure, Daniels is very mechanically sound. He is able to push the ball down the field when needed even though his arm strength leaves a little to be desired. These good mechanics give Daniels the ability to make some truly incredible throws at times.
Escapability – Although he isn’t even close to being the most athletic guy on the field, Daniels can do a good job of using his legs to escape. He is able to move away from defenders and get himself into a spot to get a throw off. Daniels isn’t a dual-threat by any stretch, but the ability to get out of the pocket for a split second and make a play when needed is huge for any college quarterback.
Decisiveness – When watching Daniels on film, he often makes his throws very quickly. This can catch a defense off guard. Being able to quickly get his feet set and throw the ball where he wants to throw it is going to be big for Georgia, especially if they ever decide to implement any sort of fast-paced offense.
Reads – Maybe going hand in hand with his decisiveness is Daniels’ tendency to not go through his progressions. When getting the ball out of his hand quickly, he does not have a lot of time to go through progressions. Some plays are designed for this, others are not. When he slows down, you can typically see Daniels going through his progressions and looking for openings, but he does not slow down very often.
Decision-Making – Daniels struggles with finding open receivers at times. This is evident when watching him during his time with USC. He will see someone who he believes is open but is not open at all. Several times, his receivers bailed him out by catching passes in double or triple coverage. Daniels will need to spend this season behind Newman watching film and working on reading defenses better, as ball security will be hugely important in any success he is to have.
Accuracy/Consistency – The third of this trifecta is Daniels’ control issues. Some plays, you will see an NFL-quality pass. Too often, that stellar pass is followed by one that leaves you scratching your head. Mixing these first three negatives gives you Daniels’ biggest issue: interceptions. Through a little more than one season, the quarterback is sitting at a 1.36 touchdown to interception ratio. So for every four touchdowns, Daniels is throwing three interceptions. You can not do that and expect to be winning games. Consistent, accurate throws are what separate the elite quarterbacks from the game managers.
Handling Pressure in the Pocket – While Daniels is able to escape the pocket at times, he is not always so adept at handling that pressure. Oftentimes, his throwing form and ability changes. This leads to sloppier passes and more issues for the Bulldog quarterback. Learning to be able to stay calm and keep his mechanics in check in the pocket would be huge for the young quarterback. This ability would help lead to leaps and bounds of progress going forward.
This player comparison is at Daniels’ higher end of his potential and it is very reminiscent of a young Matthew Stafford. His style is somewhat similar. They both have the ability to get the ball out of their hands very quickly. Both showed those glimpses of greatness early on in their careers. Stafford also had accuracy issues early on, finishing with less than 60% of his passes completed in his first two seasons. Stafford’s touchdown to interception ratio was only 1.13 through his first two seasons. Both have similar builds and stand six-foot-three. Although, Stafford is a bit stockier than Daniels currently is. If Daniels is able to work out some of the kinks in his game, he could definitely come close to, if not reach, Stafford’s ability level. When things are working, you can definitely see that talent.
Overall, Daniels has some flaws. That is why he should not start this season. With the right practice and workouts, he could become one of the better players in the SEC and beyond in the next couple of years. He has the potential. You see the glimmer when he makes one of his great passes. Daniels needs to harness that potential to become the elite-level quarterback that he can be.