JT Daniels-Georgia football-2022 NFL Draft
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels looks to pass after avoiding the pressure during the G-Day Game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

ESPN analyst on JT Daniels: ‘Should have everything he needs’

With the 2021 NFL Draft in the books, some have already begun to look ahead to next year’s draft.

And that has led us to some early projections and thoughts on Georgia quarterback JT Daniels.

The Georgia quarterback impressed in his final four starts of the 2020 season, throwing for 10 touchdowns while significantly improving Georgia’s per-game yardage and point totals.

Daniels made the decision to return to Georgia for a second year, and his fourth overall in college. While ESPN’s Todd McShay did not have Daniels in the first round, it isn’t inconceivable to think that a big year could vault him into that conversation.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly identified Daniels as one of the top college quarterbacks and explained why he’s got the case to make a Mac Jones or Joe Burrow-like jump.

“A spring injury to star receiver George Pickens blurs Georgia’s potential a bit, but the other six Dawgs with 10-plus catches all return, including Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton (14.6 yards per catch between them) and tight end Darnell Washington,” Connelly wrote. “Daniels should have everything he needs.”

Related: Georgia football podcast: FOX Sports projects JT Daniels as first pick in 2022 draft

Perhaps the biggest concern for Daniels in terms of his draft stock isn’t the lack of Pickens — who McShay did have as a first-round pick — but rather his legs.

Daniels had zero rushing attempts last season. While that isn’t the biggest issue in the world, it is worth pointing out Daniels has already had multiple knee surgeries after tearing his ACL as a sophomore at USC.

How that knee continues to heal and improve will go a long way in determining where Daniels ends up going. Georgia just saw star pass rusher Azeez Ojulari fall to the middle of the second round after reported health concerns stemming from a knee injury he suffered as a senior in high school.

Related: Azeez Ojulari recaps draft day thoughts

Georgia likely won’t run Daniels all that much in 2021, but there were times last season where Daniels showed good maneuverability within the pocket. That’s a trait that both Jones and Tom Brady both possess, even if they aren’t a dynamic rushing threat.

Daniels continued to show promise in Georgia’s spring game, as he threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns. And he did that while Georgia was without Burton, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Dominick Blaylock.

“The game is definitely slowing down to a certain extent,” Daniels said this spring. “I’ve gotten better at eliminating unnecessary things to look at pre-play. And something else I’ve been working on is decision-making and not making bad plays worse.”

Related: National media praises JT Daniels, still skeptical of Georgia football after spring game

Georgia is projected to be one of the top teams in the country in 2021, with ESPN ranking them as the No. 3 overall team in its post-spring rankings. Daniels is a significant reason for Georgia’s lofty preseason rankings.

Daniels will get a chance to make a statement in the first game of the 2021 season, as the Bulldogs open against a loaded Clemson team. The Tigers bring back nine starters on defense from a season ago and should contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The two teams are set to meet in Charlotte on Sept. 4.

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