Unpacking Future Packers: No. 87, Utah OL, Braeden Daniels

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2023 NFL draft.

Green Bay’s bread and butter in the NFL Draft is selecting offensive linemen on day three of the draft. David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley, Jon Runyan Jr, and J.C. Tretter were all day three picks for the Packers.

A player that Brian Gutekunst could target on day three of the 2023 NFL Draft is Braeden Daniels. The Utah offensive lineman checks in at No. 87 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.

A three-star recruit out of Texas, Daniels finished his career at Utah with 43 career starts. Daniels started 18 games at left guard and 11 games at right tackle. This past season he started all 14 games at left tackle.

“Daniels greatest strength is his versatility,” Alex Markham, the publisher of UteNation.com said. “He can be trusted to play anywhere along the line and do it well. He has a high football IQ. He’s also someone you can depend on from a health standpoint. Not counting the abbreviated Covid season where the virus ravaged the Utah linemen, Daniels started every game he played in as a Ute, with 14 games played in 2019, 2021, and 2022. He played in two games while redshirting his first year on campus.”

In pass protection, Daniels has quick feet and plays with good kneed bend. He has the lateral quickness to match rushers wide of the pocket. Daniels stays balanced through contact. He’s a technician in pass protection, with coordinated movements.   

This past season, Daniels made the move from right tackle to left tackle and gave up zero sacks. 

“Utah is historically known as a physical run-blocking line, but in 2022 they performed better as a collective group with their pass-blocking,” Markham said. “Same can be said for Daniels as he graded out high against the pass rush, but average against the run. To me, that speaks volumes to him as a player because he improved his pass blocking from a year ago, despite moving to a more demanding position on the line.”

Daniels is an athletic offensive tackle that doesn’t labor reaching the second level. He sustains his block to create movement in the run game. He has a high football IQ and understands angles to help seal outside runs.

“Normally he’s been outstanding, but he took a step back in 2022,” Markham said. “Plenty of that has to do with the position change, but as mentioned above, the whole line didn’t run-block as well as they blocked in passing situations. This past season was actually the first year Daniels graded out better protecting the pass instead of the run. The last two years he had PFF grades just under 90.”

Fit with the Packers

All signs point to David Bakhtiari being back next season. Zach Tom has proven to be a viable option at right or left tackle, with the versatility to play anywhere along the offensive line. Yosh Nijman will most likely be back. The Packers also have Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones on the roster. On top of that, Elgton Jenkins is always capable of kicking back outside in a pinch.

It would appear the Packers are set at the tackle position for the upcoming season. However, the NFL Draft is always about long-term projection. 

Will Bakhtiari and Nijman be on the roster after next season? What’s Tom’s best position? With a cloud hanging over the future of the tackle position, it would not be shocking to see the Packers take an offensive tackle on day three of the upcoming draft. 

With his tackle-guard versatility and experience, Daniels could be an attractive day-three target for the Packers as they look to add more depth to the offensive line. 

“I’d draft Daniels because of his positional versatility, high football IQ,” Markham said. “Utah’s offensive line coach Jim Harding is one of the best line coaches at any level. He’s gotten Daniels ready to the point that he should be a plug-and-play starter.”Unp

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire