Why Daniel is on the list
Daniel became an unconventional "Making the Leap" candidate in part because of the requirement that we choose one player from each team. Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry made sense after a down 2012, but he was already great as a rookie. Third-year offensive guard Jon Asamoah was probably the best choice overall -- I've heard from multiple people around the Chiefs that he's a future star. Pro Football Focus chose Asamoah as their "Secret Superstar" for the Chiefs.
But let's be honest: I have no idea how to evaluate guard play. Few football writers do, if any. I watched Game Rewind on Asamoah and could see he was a powerful player, but I'm a few years away in my development from saying someone is a "road grader" without being a total phony.
A few things stand out from watching Daniel's 64 throws from last preseason:
- He's naturally good at moving in the pocket and creating throwing lanes. This is necessary as a quarterback generously listed at 6-foot, but Daniel has better pocket presence than plenty of starters. He stands in the pocket and takes a hit well.
- Daniel hardly has a gun, but he still completed plenty of vertical passes because he's accurate. He completed more than 70 percent of his passes in the preseason. He has enough arm strength and usually makes quick decisions. His throws up the sideline sometimes fit into very small windows. He averaged 8.4 yards per attempt over the last two preseasons, a sensational number.
There is no quarterback competition in Kansas City. It's Alex Smith's job and will remain Smith's job for as long as possible because of the investment that Reid and the Chiefs made in Smith. But there's a reason Smith has only started more than 10 games in two of his seven NFL season. Injuries happen. Seasons don't always go as planned, especially when learning another new offense.
The odds are that Daniel gets a shot or three to play in 2013. That's just how the NFL usually works. If he gets that chance, Daniel will have to prove his decision-making and accuracy can overcome any height and arm strength concerns.
Reid's quick-strike offense is perfectly suited to Daniel's skill set. There are few coaches better than Reid at maximizing quarterbacks who are just like Daniel. If Daniel gets his shot either from Smith getting injury or being ineffective, Daniel can make some noise and money like Matt Flynn or Kolb. (Or Reid's old understudy, A.J. Feeley.)