Position Ranking: #2
Strengths: Has good overall height and size for an NFL safety. McDaniel played both the strong and weakside safety position while at Clemson. Shows good footwork in his backpedal and is sharp and balanced in his crossover steps while playing coverage. Keeps his eyes on the quarterback as he releases into pass drop and will break towards the side of his throwing motion.
Was responsible for setting the secondary in its proper alignment; always plays within his assignment and won’t freelance. Keeps focused and can be a very effective tackler when attacking downhill in run support. Has the footwork, technique, and athleticism to cover the slot receiver on most routes and was frequently asked to do so against spread formations; stayed on the field for three downs. Plays with a good combination of instincts and focus.
Needs Improvement: Strength at the point of attack is only adequate and will need to improve in order to be effective on an island with bigger, stronger, NFL skill players. Tackling ability and aggressiveness are off and on, doesn’t always use the proper technique when head up on the ball carrier or attack in the running game with the same aggressiveness. Doesn’t show the speed to cover receivers one-on-one when asked to go deep downfield. Ball tracking can improve on throws behind him (most interceptions came with play in front of him).
Bottom Line: McDaniel was a steady presence for the Tiger secondary the past two seasons, showing good leadership and complete understanding of the Clemson defensive scheme. His overall athleticism and size are good, but he doesn’t show a dynamic quality to his game against the run or pass. He’ll need to be more consistent with his tackling and ball tracking to be an impact player at the next level, but he has the potential to be so due to his intelligence, instincts, and flashes of playmaking ability the past two seasons. His discipline and focus will be attractive to teams and McDaniel should be off the board sooner rather than later.
Draft Projection: Mid 2nd to mid 3rd round.