For the second straight day, the Packers turned to the Big Ten to bolster their defensive line.
After trading up to draft Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy in the second round on Friday, the Packers used the first of their two fourth-round picks on Saturday on Iowa defensive tackle Mike Daniels.
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said he liked Iowa’s track record for producing players in the trenches, and the Packers noticed Daniels last year as three of his defensive linemates were being scouted and ultimately drafted – Adrian Clayborn in the first round, Christian Ballard in the fourth round and Karl Klug in the fifth round.
“We think he’s an all-football guy,” Capers said. “The thing that jumps out at me is the way he plays the game. He plays the game with quickness, intensity. I think he’ll bring a sense of energy with him.”
Daniels, 6-0, 291, led the Hawkeyes in sacks and tackles for loss each of the last two years, when he started 21 of 26 games. He had nine sacks and 13½ TFL’s as a senior and defensive captain in 2011.
Capers envisions Daniels as a potential inside rusher in his nickel package, when only two down linemen are on the field. The Packers play nickel predominantly due to other teams’ three- and four-receiver sets, and both Daniels and Worthy will hopefully provide some punch to the inside rush.
“Both of these defensive linemen we’ve added have excellent in-line quickness, and that’s what you have to have in this day and age in order to beat the one-on-one block,” Capers said.
“We have enough flexibility that we’ll adjust what we’re doing to try to get our best football players on the field.”
Daniels, who was a second-team All-Big Ten pick last year, finished his college career with a flourish. He recorded two sacks and three tackles for loss in Iowa’s Insight Bowl loss to Oklahoma.
He played in that bowl game with an injured shoulder, which he hurt about two weeks prior to the game. Daniels called it a “wear-and-tear” injury and he had postseason surgery on it. He said he was medically cleared two weeks ago.
At the scouting combine, Daniels had one official sit-down interview – with the Packers. He sensed the Packers were impressed and he’s grateful to be given a chance to overcome the knock against his height, the same chance Iowa gave him coming out of New Jersey.
Playing with a group of NFL prospects at his position with the Hawkeyes helped him grow, he said, even if he never garnered as much attention as his teammates.
“I used their presence to drive me,” Daniels said. “I tried to push them to make sure they were better.”
Daniels calls his “passion for the game” his greatest strength. When asked for his best pass rush move, he said, “I call it hustle.
“I just don’t stop going. If you hustle, I’m not saying something great will happen all the time, but you increase your chances.”
With that attitude, Daniels’ chances in the NFL are better, too. He’s well aware his game must improve to become an impact player in the pros, but sometimes just knowing that is half the battle.
“I feel as though I have to bring everything to a whole new level,” he said, “because this is a new level.” RELATED LINKS