Chicago Bears draft James Daniels

James Daniels wasn’t drafted in Round 1, but he didn’t have to wait terribly long on the second day of the NFL Draft.


Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels runs to the sidelines in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 40-35 to stay perfect on the season. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

James Daniels didn’t hear his name called on Day No. 1 of the NFL Draft, but he didn’t have to wait too long during the second round.

The Chicago Bears drafted Daniels with the seventh pick in the second, 39th overall. The Bears ranked 16th in the NFL in average rushing yards per game (111.8) and averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which tied for 11th-best in the league.

The junior from Warren, Ohio, was ranked by ESPN as its No. 1 center in the draft, No. 18 prospect overall, and received a grade of 90.

At the NFL Combine, Daniels measured 6-3, 306 pounds. The NFL’s website tabbed him with a 6.03 overall prospect grade, saying he “should be an instant starter.”

“Daniels is a fluid mover with tremendous initial quickness to win positioning on most every zone block he’s asked to make — both on the first and second levels,” NFL’s Lance Zierlein wrote about Daniels. “His height, weight, and arm length numbers at the Combine will be critical in either solidifying his draft slot or potentially dropping him a round. Some teams might see him as a zone-only center, but he may be strong enough to fit in with other blocking schemes. He needs to get stronger, but he’s a plus run blocker and pass protector with a chance to become a Pro Bowl starter.”

Daniels earned praise for his fluidity, quickness, initial contact, and finishes when blocking on the line, while docking him for his power.

Regardless, Iowa has a tradition of sending more-than-capable linemen to the NFL, and scouts know this.

“The Iowa guys are always going to be quick and proficient, but you have to see them tested against power because they are usually going to be a little smaller, too,” an anonymous NFL team college scouting director told “This guy has decent size, and I think he’s got pretty good functional power. He would come in and challenge for best center in our division right away.”

Last year, Daniels headed an Iowa run-blocking attack that averaged 3.8 yards per carry and 139.2 yards per game. He was an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten team by both the coaches and media.

In 2016, Daniels earned third team All-Big Ten honors. He was also a first-team Sophomore All-American by Campus Insiders.

Also worthy of note, Daniels’ top-notch wardrobe for the first round of the draft:

Daniels rocked a suit and tie for Day No. 2, however.

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