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Georgia quarterback JT Daniels looks for a play call from the sideline during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Mississippi State, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson

PFF analyst down on JT Daniels, ranks Georgia quarterback 23rd in nation, 6th in SEC

ATHENS — The most dynamic entertainers and athletes are often among the most polarizing, and Georgia quarterback JT Daniels is apparently no different.

Daniels posted the third-best Heisman Trophy odds when they were released last month, with Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler coming in at No. 1, and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei at No. 2.

But Daniels was ranked only No. 23 in the nation when Pro Football Focus released its 2021 College Football Preseason QB rankings for all 130 teams.

Somewhere, Daniels is smiling, because it is just this sort of thing that propels him to turn the heat up even higher on his maniacal preparation.

PFF, and specifically analyst Anthony Treash, has made no secret that they are not on the Daniels’ bandwagon.

Two weeks ago, PFF put out its All-SEC teams — first, second, third and honorable mention — and eight Georgia offensive players received mention:

• First-team: WR Arik Gilbert, OG Justin Shaffer

• Second-team: OT Jamaree Salyer, OT Warren McClendon

• Third-team: TE Darnell Washington, WR Dominick Blaylock, WR Kearis Jackson

• Honorable Mention: RB Zamir White

It was readily apparent Daniels’ name was missing at the quarterback position, where Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, LSU’s Myles Brennan, Florida’s Emory Jones and Missouri’s Connor Bazelak took the top four spots.

“The JT Daniels Heisman hype may need to be tempered just a bit,” PFF writes, which credits the QB transfer from USC for his 400-yard performance against Mississippi State, but cautions “his outputs in the other three outings, in addition to his past play are cause for concern.”

PFF questions Daniels’ pocket presence and accuracy, “despite a high completion percentage.”

Daniels did hold the ball on occasion last season but that was to be expected when his lack of recent game experience was taken into consideration.

After all, Daniels didn’t play in the first six games of the 2020 season, and his most recent game action had been in August of 2019 when he suffered an ACL injury in the first half of the Trojans’ opener against Fresno State.

It’s an interesting take when other metrics reveal Daniels had the highest QB rating of all the returning players at his position from his Nov. 21 start onward.

It’s possible PFF did not see Daniels’ sterling performance in the Georgia G-Day Game, when he showed his efficiency and command.

Daniels’ most recent outing came in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where he was 26-of-38 passing for 392 yards and piloted the game-winning drive with no timeouts from his own 20-yard line.

RELATED: JT Daniels stays California cool on game-winning drive.

PFF’s Treash has been constant in his questions about Daniels, having penned a metrics-heavy article last July titled, “Why Jamie Newman is the easy choice to start over JT Daniels at Georgia.”

Newman was rated as the nation’s No. 3 quarterback last year by Treash, who had Alabama’s Mac Jones No. 24 and Florida’s Kyle Trask No. 48.

To be fair, metrics can be deceiving, and not everyone knew that Daniels was a much better fit than Newman for the Pro Style Spread new UGA offensive coordinator Todd Monken was building.

But PFF is clearly doubling down on Daniels this season, and relying on metrics from his true freshman season at USC to make the case.

“As a true freshman at USC in 2018, Daniels ranked 118th at the position in PFF grade,” per the PFF quarterbacks rating story for the 2021 season.

“(Daniels was) 127th in turnover-worthy play rate and 129th in PFF Wins Above Average generated.”

EXCLUSIVE: USC coach Clay Helton reflects on JT Daniels tenure with Trojans

Once again, there was much more to the numbers than might meet the eye.

Center exchanges were a challenge for the Trojans in 2018, and the USC offensive line play was not consistent. Both things can obviously affect a quarterback’s ability to run the offense and establish the necessary timing with receivers.

WATCH: JT Daniels’ mother discusses challenges in son’s football career

That’s why former SEC all-time passing leader Eric Zeier was so impressed Daniels was able to debut with a 28-of-38 passing performance that netted 401 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first outing with the Bulldogs last season.

RELATED: Eric Zeier says JT Daniels has ‘gunslinger moxie’

“It is extremely difficult to have yourself prepared to lead a team midseason, especially coming off an injury where at times you were third or fourth off of the depth chart,” Zeier said.

“He’s extremely intelligent, understands what we are trying to do, gets us into the right play, reminds me of Jake Fromm,” Zeier said. “But then there’s gunslinger moxie — he’s gonna take some shots, play with some cockiness, take some punishment and stand in the pocket and make plays.

ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum recently stated that Daniels was the best quarterback in the SEC.

There are some NFL mock drafts that project the Georgia quarterback as a first-round selection in the 2022 draft.

RELATED: Fox Sports projects JT Daniels as first pick in 2022 draft

While that seems a bit lofty at this time, it’s clear Daniels does have his share of supporters as well as critics.

WATCH: Rival defensive coordinator breaks down JT Daniels

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