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James Daniels sounding like a veteran already at NFL Combine

Former Hawkeyes talk about the draft's best prospect at center

INDIANAPOLIS - James Daniels might only be 20 years old, but he sounds like a polished veteran when talking about his craft.

"If you have one elbow out, if your hands are late, anything like that, you're gonna get beat quickly. I mean you get beat in college by players if you have bad technique, but in the NFL, they're gonna expose you like that," the former Hawkeyes offensive lineman said. "Whatever NFL team chooses me, I just have to get better, focus on my fundamentals and get better and just use those fundamentals that I learned at Iowa." 

The youngster could be the fifth offensive lineman drafted in the first round during Kirk Ferentz's tenure. ESPN analyst and former Hawkeye Matt Bowen says the Daniels' upside and versatility make him attractive to NFL teams.
"A center, who's got the athletic traits to play guard," Bowen said. "He got the length to play guard, the footwork, the movement skills... we know he's physical, we know he can come off the ball, we know he's super-high level football intelligence to play center in that offense." 

Bowen's sentiment was echoed by former Iowa offensive lineman Sean Welsh. He says Daniels' cerebral play is a big reason he's talked about as the draft's best prospect at center. 

"He's an incredibly bright guy," Welsh said. "He's very smart and he's very good situationally. When he's out there and it's flying around, he's able to zone-in and ID the look and get everyone set." 

"Any position on the offensive line, you have to be able to react quickly. You can gameplan something all week, and defenses now don't just play one front the entire game, so you just have to be able to know personnel and just know who you're playing and that's how you're able to think on the fly." 

Daniels can solidify a high draft spot with a good showing here at the combine, which is what many scouts are expecting out of the former Hawkeye.

For more Hawkeye football coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter -- and now Facebook -- and Hawkeye Headquarters on OurQuadCities.com all season.

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