I think I might have found our late round read option backup

BJ Daniels has a lot more talent than your typical NFL underdog

Last night I was watching game compilations on some of this draft’s top corners, more out of curiosity than of any kind of Seahawks relevance.  I started up a game compilation of Xavier Rhodes- a probable top 20 pick- against the University of Southern Florida.  I was only about 3 plays in though before the opposing quarterback caught my attention and started to steal the show. A quarterback by the name of BJ Daniels.

Right away, I noticed that this is a bulky quarterback, built for running. He was a strictly read option quarterback that sold play action very well and had maybe the best on-field mobility in this draft, not just really fast, but shifty and instinctive. He also displayed a pretty big arm with good throwing mechanics and above average footwork.

Since I had no idea who he was, I assumed he wasn’t in this draft. But as it turns out, he is.  And nobody is talking about him.

Now, there are reasons- great reasons- why he’s not expected to be drafted.

First, he’s short. He’s listed at 6’1″ some places, 6’0″ at others, and even 5’11” in a few spots. I can believe it, since he has that squatty kind of “muscle hamster” type build that Russell Wilson has and for which Doug Martin got his nickname. However tall he is, he’s a ripped 218 pounds, and other than an ankle injury that cost him a couple games at the end of his final season, he’s been injury free despite his run heavy style.

As a four year starter, his career completion rate is just 57.3%. That’s disappointingly low, and low completion percentage is one of the more potent negative indicators for a quarterback prospect. Consider this though- and this might blow your mind- Russell Wilson’s career completion rate in 3 years at NC State? 57.8%. When Wilson went to a real offense at Wisconsin, his completion rate skyrocketed to 72.8%. His completion rate with the Seahawks was 64.1%.

What little I can find of Daniels, he looks accurate. Could his completion rate be down thanks to a weak supporting cast, similar to Wilson at NC State?

Daniels has a decent career YPA of 7.4 but just a tepid 52-39 TD-INT ratio. That ratio looks quite a bit better though when you factor his 25 career rushing touchdowns.

I’m not saying that Daniels is a surefire star, but I like him a lot. If nothing else he impressed me in limited looks and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a projected undrafted quarterback with a more impressive highlight reel than this one. His style strikes me as a bit of a blend between Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, though obviously with less mental talent than Wilson and less physical talent than Newton. USF fans speak very highly of Daniels not only as a quarterback, but as a leader and hard worker and I can’t help but wonder if good coaching and a great supporting cast might show him to be a hidden gem in this draft.

In a draft class that expects to be fairly desolate for read option quarterbacks, especially in the later rounds, Daniels stands out as an option for teams that are willing to overlook his lack of height.  One prospect from last year that Daniels reminds me a little of is GJ Kinne, and it’s worth noting that Seattle invited GJ Kinne for a workout last July. Both have similar height and squatty muscular builds, and both were fearless rushers with similar throwing ability.

In case you’re wondering whatever happened to Kinne, he signed a contract with Chip Kelly’s Eagles a couple weeks ago.

Teams passed on Kinne, and will probably pass on Daniels, because both are “too short.”  The Seahawks have the open-mindedness to consider undersized quarterbacks, and whether it’s with one of our four 7th round picks or with a call in free agency, I think Daniels could be a player to keep an eye on.

The ultimate late round competition at weakside linebacker:  Jayson Dimanche

Hat tip to Scott formerly of 17power for this next one.

The 2013 fireworks display from the small school ranks continues.  Dimanche is not considered a draftable linebacker by most draft sites.  And yet his game (as a 3-4 outside linebacker) looks an awful lot like Jarvis Jones.  Dimanche measured at 6’0.5″ 231 pounds at his pro day, and ran a 4.53 forty with a 38″ vertical.  I always deduct some for pro-day forty times, but even with that deduction, Dimanche is one of the fastest linebackers in this draft.

Further, he shows explosive speed on tape and has incredible pass rush instincts.  I don’t think it would be a stretch at all to see him competing on our roster at the WILL spot, especially if Dan Quinn wants to be more aggressive with his linebackers.  And while we already have Bruce Irvin, I could see Dimanche fitting in nicely in a Raheem Brock type role on 3rd downs, which could come in handy if Irvin graduates to LEO status in the next couple seasons.

Every draft has great players that nobody talks about.  Sometimes they are in plain sight (Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson last year, Ryan Swope and John Simon this year).  It’s easy to see how someone like Dimanche is anonymous, but I would think that after what Russell Wilson did last season, overlooking a star quarterback with a similar skillset out of the Big East would be improbable.  And yet, it’s happening again, this time to BJ Daniels.  Will Seattle capitalize on the league’s small-mindedness again in 2013?  Here’s hoping.  Grabbing an anonymous stud like Dimanche is something I’ll root for as well.


  1. RJ

    Both those cats are ballers! Loved those comp vidoes. Couple of 7th round gems. Yes please and thank you!

  2. CFraychineaud

    How is the QB at finding those windows and lanes to throw through? What was his percent of balls tipped? Any chance we can find numbers for catchable balls thrown? When he miss-throws where does it often happen? (Wilson almost always goes high and usually outside) How would he rate compared to Josh Portis?

    For Dimanche, he seems small to be used heavily in blitzes but hey if he’s good at it, it works for me. How are his coverage skills? would you describe him as having sideline to sideline speed?

  3. Miles

    Kip — When you said earlier that you found a projected UDFA you were excited about I immediately went and checked. I saw this guy and was 95% sure he was who you were talking about. Sure enough I was right. I think this guy looks awesome and I would love to see us give him a shot. He certainly looks like he could be a preseason darling.

  4. Michael

    What a surprising stat that is about Russell Wilson’s comp % at NC State. I never watched him until he got to Wisconsin, so that is absolutely shocking to me!

    Apparently Daniels ran 4.63 and 4.66 at his pro-day earlier this month. He also did 20 reps on the bench, and managed a 30.5″ vertical. He looks quite a bit faster than what would probably amount to a 4.7 “combine time” in the highlight reel above, and I gotta think the broken ankle less than 5 months ago is a factor there. CBSsports lists an arm length of 32″ which is certainly long enough to offset his sub-six foot height.

    I would love to see the guy in Seattle as an UDFA to see if he can learn from Russell Wilson’s example!

    • Kip Earlywine

      Sometimes players are better than their 40 times because of quickness and ability to change directions without losing speed. For example, Stevie Johnson was just about impossible to cover last year, and he ran just a 4.59. Wes Welker ran a 4.65, but he just has so much quickness that he “feels” like a 4.3 guy to opposing defenses. I think Daniels is a similar case, and running somewhere in the 4.6s is still outstanding by QB standards.

  5. Beanhawk

    Having watched several of Daniels’ games over the past few years, he struggles with his consistency, but like Wilson, he did have a flair for the dramatic when a big play needed to be made. That seems right up Pete’s alley. Definitely a guy I would consider in the sixth, seventh, or UDFA.

    Rob or Kip, what do you guys think of Jake Stoneburner as a late round at TE/Joker? He had a good pro day run, I always remember him making a big play, and he had Pryor and Miller throwing him passes his entire career (that’s got to unfairly diminish a guy’s draft stock).

  6. Phil

    If nothing else, “Dimanche” (“Sunday” in French) has the right name for playing in the NFL….

  7. oz

    On Dimanche; Wow, how did he make that tackle. great instincts and hand use. Breaks down and changes direction very well. I would think his coverage skills would be very good. I could see him as a special teams ace.
    Nice find keep up the good work guy’s. I like Daniels a lot.

  8. Sam Jaffe

    What a playmaker. My favorite part of the highlight reel is how he congratulates the players that are able to tackle him–that’s classy and infuriating at the same time. Nevertheless, I don’t see signs of him being a potential starter in the NFL. To get the long throws he twists his body in weird contortions that he won’t have time for in the pros. So the question is, will he be worth a draft pick knowing that he’ll never be starter-material. In my opinion, yes. Here’s why:
    *A backup quarterback is a very important part of the roster and having one that can win a few games is crucial.
    *Even if he has to sit for a year behind Flynn to get coached up, he could clearly be a cog on special teams and trick offensive packages, meaning that he could be made active on game days. Based on his change of direction, I could even see him being a good return man. In addition to CFraychinaud’s questions above, I would want to know his correct height (there’s still a big difference between 5’10” and 6’2″, just not in RussellWilsonLand), hand size (if his hands are too small, then he’ll be fumble-prone) and speed (he looks faster than anyone else on the field, but it’s always deceptive to watch a quarterback running in game tape because everyone else is running in the opposite direction, stopping and re-starting).

  9. YankinTa

    How big are BJ Daniels’s Hands? Are they as big as RW? Are they at least bigger than Andrew Luck’s hands??

    • Kip Earlywine

      9″ according to CBS. I would guess 10+ from his tape though. He has very strong hands and throws mostly tight spirals.

  10. Geoff

    That DE toss at 3:31 in the Daniels vid…wow. Hard to say though, can he develop, or will he be another Josh Portis?

    Dimanche looks very quick to the ball with good change of direction. As it stands, I would love either of these picks. Highlight vids are tough though, you really need to see a full game.

    • williambryan

      That play at 3:31 is now my favorite non Seahawks play of all time. CRAZY!

      • williambryan

        Also, the play at 6:21, Sooooooooooooo Russell Wilsony.

      • Scott Allen

        Yeah. I too did a double take on that double take at 3:31. Bad ass!

  11. Cysco

    Dimanche seems like the kind of pick the Hawks would grab in the 5th-6th and everyone would be laughing and calling it a reach. Then next season, he plays over half the defensive snaps and everyone is left scratching their heads.

    Comparing Wilson’s time at NC Stave vs Danile’s, they have very similar completion ratings and similar passer ratings. Wilson was asked to throw a lot more than Daniels so Wilson’s passing TD totals dwarf Daniels. Daniels was asked to run more than Wilson so his rushing attempts and rushing TD total is higher than Wilson’s.

    In the right system, I could see how Daniels could be successful.

  12. Eburg

    Rob – Sorry this is off topic but I had ESPN (I know I know) on in the background as i read the new article when this guy from Marshall was spotlighted by McShay. Aaron Dobson from Marshall. Have you watched anything on him? He looks extremely intriguing as mike Williams type player at a good value. Ran a 4.49 at his pro day on a very slow track. Just curious of your thoughts on him

    • Rob Staton

      Hey Eburg,

      I actually don’t mind ESPN to be honest! Quite like the entertainment aspect of McShay and Kiper’s coverage. They don’t take themselves ‘too’ seriously. I have watched Aaron Dobson and he’s famous for an incredible one-handed catch that made all the highlight reels in 2011. I think he’s a middling prospect overall – not amazing physical skills or difference making qualities. I think he has a shot to make it as a #2 at the next level. Mid round type of guy.

  13. Turp

    Excellent finds, Kip. I had no idea about either of these guys. Great work as usual.

  14. Brandon O.

    Wow, both of those guys have great highlights! However, Daniels throwing mechanics looked rather ugly… I say, pick him up late and convert him to running back. 5’11” 217, with his speed, juking ability and knack for the end zone? Sounds like a stud! Poor mans Denard Robinson?

    • Kip Earlywine

      I like his mechanics personally. Quick release, medium high release point. Some awkward throws here and there and he needs to step into them more consistently, but he has the more difficult aspects down.

  15. Leonard

    I’m glad Daniels name is finally getting some traction. I have mentioned him a few times on this site after watching YouTube video of the guy and was suprised that no one else seemed to like him. Best running QB in the draft (if you don’t count Denard) by a long shot. Good enough he could be a conversion 3rd down back. The fastest release of any QB in the draft. Emotional leader that teammates will love to play for. Simply a playmaker. Someone else has mentioned the play where he beast quaked a D lineman into the endzone before looking back downfield to make a very good pass. A little bit bigger than Wilson. The only thing keeping this kid from being a really good back up is accuracy. Hopefully, in an offense designed for his talent, like Seattle’s, and with some coaching he could fix that. I think he would be a great developmental 3rd QB for the Hawks. Give him a year and see what he can do after Flynn leaves.

    • SunPathPaul

      I’m not an expert, but it looked like he had GREAT accuracy- albeit on a Highlight reel.

      I suspect he lacks consistency more than accuracy. He can make unbelievable throws, but how often?

      To me this is a no-brainer. Trade Matt Flynn for a 6th or 7th, to void his money and cap hit, and take that pick and get this guy! Period. We need the cap space, and this guy looks DEMONSTRABLY better than Flynn for US in my eyes… Why? If he had to come in, which I doubt, he will benefit SO much from Percy! We all ready have the read option w/ Lynch, then add Percy in the backfield of a 2 back backfield…!! Wicked. I SERIOUSLY doubt RW will get hurt, so this guy is perfect! He has a really good work ethic to match RW, and they r WAY MORE similar to each other than Flynn and RW are…

      Move the Flynn, give him a chance, and draft BJ Daniels…give him a chance to win a ring as RW’s backup!!
      All day and night I would take this!

      • Leonard

        When I re-read my post that is the exact change of phrase I wished I had made. I did mean consistency rather than accuracy. The ability to put the ball where it needs to be is obviously there. It’s the completion percentage and interceptions that need to be worked out. I think interceptions can be a misleading stat too. How often is the reciever to blame for not being where he was supposed to be or bobbling the ball into the air for the defender to grab?
        This kid has the physical tools, the leadership and the will to win. If they get him in front of a chalk board and he knows his stuff I say take him in the 6th so they don’t have to worry about another team taking a 7th round gamble on him.

  16. Stuart

    Good digging Kip, maybe this will be our future back up, who knows? If he is the guy, sounds appealing, why not use a 7th v gamble we get him as an UDFA? I remember hearing GM’s are looking for the next Russell Wilson…Duh

    Last season there were two QB’s that both you and Rob spent a lot time on, Harnish and Austin (i think it was Austin. Any possiblility either or both of those players could be available for training camp?

    Just thinking about backup QB’s, like the Redskins for example, their back up is a rookie. It seems if you have the right guy, you dont need a name back up (cough Flynn cough cough). Flynn only has like three NFL starts and had those arm issues last season. It would sting if we kept Flynn only to have him have arm problems again…BJ Daniels is a name I will certainly be watching now, thanks!

    Once we have a young QB like BJ Daniels that PC feels comfortable with, the easier it will be to move on from Flynn.

    • Ely

      I would love getting Harnish for backup QB dutuies. He looked good playing for the Colts in pre-season but just isn’ t a fit for their system hence being on the practice squad. I think he could be a good fit for the read option.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Wow, you’re right about Harnish being on the practice squad. I wonder if Seattle can sign him or if it’s too late for that since it’s the offseason.

  17. Robert

    QB looks like a great prospect. While we are coaching him up and working on his throwing mechanics and accuracy, we could benefit immediately by having him hold for field goal attempts!
    The LB has amazing abilities. How his small school highlights translate to NFL production, I have no idea. But much of what he does cannot be taught or coached. If he is within 5 yards of the ball carrier, he makes the play! I hope he winds up in our stable next to Armonty Bryant!

  18. GoDawgs

    check out Dimanche’s positional drills at his pro day, this kid can really move for a guy his size, and he has plenty of room to add weight in the nfl! http://youtu.be/HftiCIfxO6k

  19. Caleb

    Watching Dimanche, all I could think of was Kam Chancellor. He looks a little small to play LB, but a potential safety…? He is so freaking strong, great leverage and lower body push.

  20. j

    What do you all think of Jeff Tuel as a backup to Russell? He posted a 4.55 forty, a 4.12 shuttle and a 6.9 three come at his workout, which are very close to Wilsons combine numbers. Also looked good throwing the ball too.

  21. Rick

    How about safety John Boyett, and lb Michael Clay as 7th rd./udfa guys. I’m an Oregon fan and I know that makes me biased towards them, but both are intriguing.

    Boyett would have been a mid round prospect at worst if he was healthy this year and I would still like to see him as an option in the 7th rd. Starter for 3 years until having double knee surgery at the beginning of this season. Undersized, but quick and a good tackler and decent ball hawk. Coaches son, football Junkie, plays angry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUGGfyAXTzo

    Clay is a tackling machine. Good instincts, smart. Undersized at 5’11 230 and not overly fast: 4.7ish 40. Because of this he could be an option to come in and compete as a udfa. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKjWHNECUKs

    • Kip Earlywine

      I like Clay but I am not sure if he’s fast enough for Pete. I might look into Boyett later on.

  22. Madmark

    Who knows Kip you just might have found the 2 comp picks we resently got from the NFL. I love Dimanche, he’s got that quick first step and the speed to follow the play. I really love his hand use to keep separation from the blocker. 1 play in the video he had 3 players on him and he still held the end till the rest of the team got there for the tackle on a 1 yard gain. He seems relentless and has the speed to pursue plays away from him. He’s quick to react when he sees holes inside and he not afraid to exploit them. Takes good angles when dropping into coverage and has the quickest to run with slot receivers. I think he could make it on the team as a special teams and depth. After that is all about competition for a starting spot.
    B.J. seems to be a better fit for the run option than Flynn. In many ways I’m of the opinion to let Flynn go not because he’s a bad QB but because he just doesn’t fit the offensive scheme we have here and B. J. looks closer to a fit with what our offense has changed to. If RW was to go down, we don’t want to change the offense, we want to bring in someone to manage and run it. This guy looks like he grew up in it and would be a more natural fit.
    I really wasn’t spending as much time looking as deep as I should have at the QBs. but he’s a better QB for our system than Coby Cameron who I was projecting. Both appear to be targets of opportunity in the latter rounds. Excellent finds Kip and this is why I come here to get more info. 2 more names on the scratch sheet. Thanks.

  23. Bryan C

    Rob – A little off topic (okay a lot), but what is your opnion of signing Antoine Winfield to a low $ contract to act as a slot CB? Seems like a pretty good person and a great slot corner, something we have struggled with finding. Do you think this is really out there and instead we look to the draft for another slot CB prospect? That is the one player we really have never found in 3 drafts. Maybe it is because we never really valued the position, but that a kicker and maybe a right OT are the remaining gaps we have. The WLB is likely already on the roster in a platoon format like you wrote earlier. Personally, I think slot CB is more valuable than WLB (or harder to find) in our scheme.

  24. williambryan

    Great Scott! You’ve done it. I would be 100% happy with this guy as Wilson’s back up!

  25. DHawk

    A couple more excellent late round sleepers, thanks for the research Kip. Here is Daniels pro day video (he has long arms and his hands look big enough):


    It looks like he was officially 5112 and 217:


    All his speed and agility drills were good for QB, but it looks like he was dealing with his ankle a little and with windy conditions (he mentions his ankle in the context of his 40 time):




    He looks like a 4.5 guy in the video, so his speed is probably not 100% yet. I think it all comes down to his mental skills as a QB because all the physical skills are there and then some – even with his 5112 height.

  26. The CHawk Talker (aka Eric)

    Kip, please PLEASE tell me there is more film on Daniels, because it’s nearly impossible to evaluate him properly based on that highlight reel. I mean, I really want to be excited, but…I’ll try to explain myself like this:

    In the first half of the video, I didn’t see much of a read option QB. Rather, I saw a RB lining up behind the center. I guess it’s possible all those plays were designed strictly as QB runs, but my point is I didn’t see any read on his part, let alone an attempt to option. I saw him take snap after snap and head straight for the LOS. To be fair, he did that pretty well, but there’s no way a run-only (or even a run-first) QB is gonna make it in the NFL. Once a defense figures out you’re no threat to pass, they’ll just load the box and it’s over.

    But in the second half, I saw totally different player – a highly mobile and strong QB making some pretty impressive completions. Sure, his throwing mechanics are kinda funky, but dang if he didn’ t make some right nifty passes. His arm looked strong, his release sharp, and his accuracy surprisingly, well, accurate. Now there’s a prospect I can get excited about.

    Clearly this kid is an athlete. Aside from his highly physical play (another thing I’m excited about), I’m seriously impressed that he broke his ankle in the season finale, but less than 4 months later, he’s clocking sub 4.6 in the 40. That’s gotta be the result of both determination and good genes, always a powerful combo.

    I guess what it comes down to is his consistency. I’ve no doubt he’s a serious threat to run every time he touches the ball. What I don’t know is if he’s a legit passing threat based on a handful of nice completions out of the hundreds of attempts he made over the course of the season. Of course, there’s little risk in finding out if he can be had in the 7th, or even better, as an UDFA.

    And Dimanche? Oh yeah. He’s a sleeper find for sure.

    Nice finds!!!

  27. The CHawk Talker (aka Eric)

    BTW, when you gave us the teaser yesterday, I was sure you were talking about Casey Brockman from Murray State. If you aren’t familiar with him, please give him a look.

  28. dave crockett

    Can’t go there with you on Daniels. I didn’t see a LOT of S. Florida ball, but I saw a reasonable amount of BJ Daniels to know I didn’t like him. I’ll give you this much, I didn’t like Russell Wilson much when he was at NC State either. I thought he was terribly overrated considering his inaccuracy. I don’t think you can lay that all on his supporting cast. A lot of it was that I don’t think he could run a pure WCO without a running game to help create space for him. But he got better, majorly better.

    So, Daniels could develop I suppose. But I fear that all he’ll ever be is a more athletic Reggie Ball.

    • Kip Earlywine

      What little I’ve found of Daniels, he’s accurate. He does make some poor decisions though. I think “inconsistent” is probably a better criticism.

      Wilson was kind of the same, I thought. I don’t think accuracy was ever a problem for Wilson, but he was often guilty of trying to do too much on a bad team.

      I think Daniels is an interesting player but you never bat a thousand on investments like this. If Daniels doesn’t work out, it’s basically of no cost. And at his height, he’s also very safe on the practice squad.

  29. Derek

    I think Daniels would be a great 7th round pick. Obviously we wouldn’t go into the season with just him and Wilson so I would keep Flynn as well. I think give him 3 years behind a guy like Wilson and he could become a solid backup or trade bait. Not bad for a 7th round choice. I would even give him some reps at RB while he was a third QB. He could possibly play that Dennard Robinson role but actually be a 3rd QB as well. It looks as if he is playing rugby with that hop step and how he puts the ball down every touchdown haha. His cuts are nasty.

    • williambryan

      The packers went onto a season with 7th round pick Matt Flynn as their backup…

      • Derek

        I see your point, but I believe they also had 2nd round pick (Brohm I think), and Rodgers had been with them for 4 or so years at that point. I would call that ideal though. I think you should always have some experience at number 2 qb while you can develop a number 3, into a number 2 qb.

        • Rob Staton

          I think it’s something we panic too much about. Who was Green Bay’s backup last year for example? A lot of the teams out there with ‘franchise’ quarterbacks carry inexpensive rookies at backup. Flacco had Tyrod Taylor as his backup. Kirk Cousins did a good job backing up RGIII.

          And hey — Flynn has two NFL starts. So he’s not even that experienced in terms of on-field action.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Peyton Manning was 1 hit from retirement last season, and his backup was a guy that basically only started one full season in college and was years away from being NFL ready. Aaron Rodgers had a pile of crap waiting behind him last season. Drew Brees had a late round pick with no experience behind him. Tom Brady didn’t have a proven QB behind him, and so on.

      Serious injuries at QB are so rare that teams often feel the insurance policy isn’t worth much of an investment. I think a lot of teams just assume that if their franchise QB goes down, so does their season, since there are no backup QBs that could fill in for an elite QB without a huge dropoff.

      If Seattle keeps Flynn, that’s great, but I think they want a much cheaper, much more versatile backup instead, even if he’s less experienced and more risky. Maybe they keep 3 QBs this year. They probably won’t- especially since 5’11” QBs like Daniels are very safe on the practice squad.

  30. Richardfg7

    I see Seattle bringing in a couple QB’s this year. Next year they will probably want to unload Flynn’s contract but they will not if there’s no back-up in place. So I expect them to really look for one in this draft.

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