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Steven Daniels Makes People Go 'Backwards' At Linebacker

Posted May 7, 2016

The Redskins believe they found a seventh-round steal in Daniels, who can be an immediate physical presence for the team.

The Redskins believe they found a seventh-round steal in Daniels, who can be an immediate physical presence for the team.

You can be sure that when general manager Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden looked at the tape of their seventh-round draft pick, Steven Daniels, one thing immediately stood out.

“Whoever he hits goes backwards,” McCloughan said. “That’s just a physical strength that you can’t develop it. You either have it or you don’t have it. He’ll knock his own players out if he has to trying to get to the ball.”

“He knows where to go, he’s great with his eyes, and when he thumps you, he thumps you,” Gruden said.

Daniels thumped opponents 82 times (16 time for a loss) during the 2015 season as middle linebacker and defensive leader for Boston College. Playing in all 13 games, and starting nine of them, Daniels, the Redskins feel, was a steal in the last round of the draft.

The 5-foot-11, 243 pound Daniels, who visited with the Redskins a couple weeks before the draft, earned first-team All-ACC honors in his last year with the Eagles, leading Boston College to having the No. 1 ranked defense in the FBS.

“Very surprised Steven was there,” Gruden said. “We brought him in for a visit a couple weeks ago and love the way he plays. He’s a physical football player. He’s a middle linebacker on a Boston College defense that was ranked No. 1 in the nation. He was the quarterback back there, he led the show. He’s tough. He can stop the run. He didn’t run a great 40 time but he’s very good in pass coverage, man.

“I think he’s going to be a good special teams player, and he’s going to compete. We’re excited to get Steven. I think he’s an excellent linebacker, and he can do some good things.”

Special teams is the route most linebackers go to start their careers in the NFL, and Daniels seems like an ideal fit – he’s someone who rams his way through opposing gaps. But there’s always a chance to find room at middle linebacker, a cabinet filled with Will Compton, Mason Foster and Perry Riley Jr., recovering from injury.

“I’m definitely going to contribute to the defense, definitely be dominant in the downhill run game but also in the pass [game],” Daniels said. “That’s what I’ve worked on, that’s what me and the coaches have talked about in my visits up until now. I’m just going to go down there and try to be a complete player, whether it’s special teams, playing offense or defense. I’m just ready to get to work as soon as possible.”

Daniels said he worked on loosening up his hips and working on pass drops at an offseason training facility, honing skills that have become more valuable as the league continues the trend of spreading out offenses. As for communicating with other players and showing leadership skills, Daniels has plenty of experience. He’s the “football player,” McCloughan loves to find late in the draft.  

“[He] brings the kind of culture I want to keep bringing in, especially late in the draft,” McCloughan said. “He brings in a competitiveness and a toughness that he isn’t going to back down from anybody. You’re going to have to beat him out to get him out of here, and that’s what I want.”

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