Mike Daniels has been one of the Green Bay Packers bests players since being drafted by the team in 2012. However, it’s very possible the Packers wouldn’t have been able to draft Daniels had they didn’t earn compensatory draft picks that year.
Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com ranked the 10 most impactful compensatory draft picks the last 10 years and Daniels came in at No. 1. Here’s was drafted in the fourth round (Pick No. 132) of the 2012 NFL Draft and has made a name for himself ever since.
Here’s a look at Bergman talking about Daniels.
“One of the league’s best interior linemen absolutely deserves top billing on this list. Not only did Daniels earn a $41 million extension in 2015, he lived up to the investment. The Packers defensive tackle made his only Pro Bowl in 2017 and has been a consistent run-stuffer on Green Bay’s defensive line since joining the club in 2012. Playing in the same league as Aaron Donald and the same division at one time as Ndamukong Suh, Daniels rarely gets the credit that those interior linemen do, but he has done what no other compensatory pick on this arbitrary ranking has: Performed at an above-average or elite level for the same team over an extended period of time. It’s a low bar, but he cleared it.”
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Before the draft, Daniels was predicted to be drafted in the fourth round. Here’s a look at what NFL.com had to say about Daniels.
“Daniels is quick off the ball and uses his small frame to work between blockers. He has the instincts to understand schemes and work against them, and he is strong enough, despite his relative lack of size, to engage and then shed a blocker to burst to the play. He is flexible and an overall active interior player.”
Since 2013, Daniels has recorded at least four sacks in every season except for 2018 and he has notched 29 career sacks which is 20 sacks more than All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison who entered the NFL the same year as Daniels. And while Daniels has not forced a ton of fumbles in his career or made too many big plays, he is always around the football as he has recorded 236 tackles since 2012.
In 10 games this past season, Daniels has posted 18 tackles, one tackle for loss, two sacks and five quarterback hits. According to Pro Football Focus, Daniels has posted 32 total pressures which ranked second on the team at the time behind Kenny Clark who had 33. He has a PFF grade of 71.2. He was not able to finish the 2018 season because of an injured foot.
Daniels was coming off a strong 2017 season, recording 49 tackles and five sacks in 14 games which led to him being named to his first Pro Bowl. So if Daniels can stay healthy in 2019, it would not be a surprise to see him have a monster year, especially with defensive lineman Kenny Clark coming off a breakout 2018 season.
Clay Matthews is the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leader in sacks with 83.5, but only 3.5 of those came in 2018. In the nine other years, he’s hard at least five sacks each season, including four seasons with double digits.
To say last season was a disappointment would be an understatement as he failed to break up a single pass and posted a career-low seven tackles for loss. However, the newest member of the Los Angeles Rams knows he’s still an effective player and can change games.
“I know I have the ability to produce like I’ve done before,” Matthews said in his introductory press conference. “Not to make excuses, but there was some change last year in the Packers organization and unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me. As far as moving forward, I know I’m a difference maker. I know I can change games and I look forward to doing that and proving that and showing to everybody here – you guys, the fans – that what you saw for these past 10 years is what you’ll get for the next two.”
Last year, the Packers hired Mike Pettine to be their defensive coordinator, which might be the change Matthews was referring to. He was asked to play inside linebacker as well as rush the passer from the outside, which he’ll likely be expected to do with the Rams, too.
He expects his role to be “fluid” and wants to help his new team however he can. whether that’s as an edge rusher or an off-ball linebacker, Matthews is confident in his ability to succeed at either spot.
“Early in my career, I was predominately an edge rusher and have had success doing that. Then you saw, kind of in the middle of my career, switching to the inside because of necessity or whatever the reason was for. I thought I excelled at both positions,” he said. “I thought when you allow me to play in space and you allow me to go play sideline-to-sideline and downhill, good things are going to happen. I expect it to be the same here. I expect my position to be fluid. I’ll have a variety of roles. I think the most important thing, and what Sean alluded to, is just pressing the quarterback, making him make bad decisions and keeping the heat and keeping the pressure on him.”
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With the Rams’ needs at both inside and outside linebacker, Matthews will fit right in at either spot depending on the situation, personnel packages and how Wade Phillips believes he can best maximize his talent.
For the past few months, it’s basically been open season on Aaron Rodgers, with several of his former teammates coming out of the woodwork to criticize the Packers quarterback.
Former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley blamed Green Bay’s ugly 2018 season on Rodgers and the front office. Finley has also said multiple times that Rodgers is self-centered. Along those same lines, former Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila called Rodgers “arrogant” during an interview just before the Super Bowl.
There’s also former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, who recently criticized Rodgers over his body language during a 31-23 loss to the Lions in Week 5.
One former Packers player who isn’t buying any of this is Jordy Nelson. The Raiders receiver, who spent nine seasons as Rodgers’ teammate in Green Bay, came out in defense of his former quarterback last week, calling the criticisms “comical” during a recent interview with ESPN Wisconsin.
“I think if you look, there’s two guys — now three (with Gbaja-Biamila) — saying it, compared to the hundreds that are saying the opposite. It doesn’t make sense,” Nelson said, via Madison.com. “I think it’s comical when I read those comments.”
According to Nelson, the reason Rodgers is being criticized by his ex-teammates is because they know it will make headlines.
“Everyone knows negativity sells,” Nelson said. “People don’t want to hear (the good). People feel better about themselves when they hear bad things about other people. And that’s why that gets more pub. I mean, no one wants to hear that Aaron’s not only obviously a great quarterback but a great leader and does everything right. All right, there’s your story. What fun is that? So whenever they can, they go back to the well and get the same people to say the same stuff.”
Nelson took particular issue with Finley’s recent comment about Rodgers’ perceived trust issues.