Iowa football: Offensive lineman James Daniels declares for the NFL Draft

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa's James Daniels, one of the most athletic offensive linemen of the Kirk Ferentz era, will skip his final year of college eligibility to enter April's NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound center from Warren, Ohio, made the announcement on his Instagram account Friday morning. 

As part of his post, which he titled "Au revoir," Daniels said this of Ferentz: "Thank you for taking a 17-year-old kid and shaping me into the man I've become."

For five seasons, dating to Riley Reiff's (lucrative) decision to skip his senior year after the 2011 season, Iowa staved off early entries to the NFL. From Brandon Scherff to Desmond King to Akrum Wadley, the Hawkeyes returned high-impact seniors who could've turned pro.

Iowa junior center James Daniels (78) and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz on the sideline during the Pinstripe Bowl.

But this week, Iowa has lost two to the NFL.

On Wednesday, cornerback Josh Jackson said he would skip his senior season. And now Daniels is joining him.


This decision might seem to be more of a surprise, considering Daniels just completed his true junior season and won't turn 21 until September. But Daniels has dealt with a handful of knee injuries throughout his three-year career that included 25 starts, 23 of them coming that past two years at center.

He missed two games in 2016 (Iowa State, North Dakota State) and this year's season opener (Wyoming).

According to Blair Sanderson of, Daniels received a second-round grade from the NFL's College Advisory Committee. A second-round pick would command a salary of between $4 million and $7 million over four years. Even a late third-rounder, like Iowa's C.J. Beathard was in 2017, would be in line for upwards of $3 million.

And Daniels has the athletic ability that could result in him rising after the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts in late February. 

Put that all together — he's healthy now, the draft grade, saving football mileage on the knees — and it all adds up to a sensible decision. 

Before Iowa's 27-20 Pinstripe Bowl win against Boston College, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said this of Daniels' NFL dilemma: "James Daniels has done a heck of a job playing for us. He's been a good football player, done the things we've asked him to do. Certainly he's earned the right to consider an NFL career."