Free-agent offensive guard James Daniels has agreed to a new deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The signing removes one of the most sought-after offensive linemen on the open market during this free agency period.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) March 15, 2022
James Daniels, Pittsburgh Steelers, Agree to Contract
What makes Daniels such an attractive free agent? Well, he is young (24-years old) and versatile enough to play several positions along the offensive line. In 48 starts, Daniels has made 40 at left guard and eight at the center position. His outstanding blocking repertoire brings instant stability to any team’s offensive unit.
One of Daniels’ top skills is to stay on his toes off the snap of the ball. His balance is perfect upon impact with an opposing player. He keeps his body square by staying level as it allows him to move a defender in any direction. The number of suitors vying for Daniels’ service was not surprising.
Daniels was a four-star recruit coming out of Warren, Ohio. He shocked the state by selecting Iowa over Ohio State to continue his football career. In three seasons, Daniels started 23 games at center for the Hawkeyes. He elected to make himself available for the NFL draft following his junior season. At the NFL Combine, league scouts deemed Daniels as a “plug-and-play” offensive lineman who could start immediately for most teams.
The Chicago Bears drafted Daniels with the 39th overall pick in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he was designated backup at both guard positions. After starter Eric Kush suffered a neck injury, Daniels was inserted into the lineup as his replacement at left guard in a Week 8 matchup against the New York Jets. By season’s end, he started 10 games and became a mainstay on the Bears offensive line.
In training camp before the start of the 2019 season, the coaching staff moved Daniels back to his collegiate position at center. However, the team’s running game struggled badly due to injuries along the offensive front. It forced the Bears to move Daniels back to left guard and he has become the team’s most consistent linemen.
The following season, Daniels was coming into his own as a premier guard, but he sustained a season-ending pectoral injury in a Week 5 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite the setback, Daniels returned to form in 2021.
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