Quietly, new Pittsburgh Steelers’ right guard James Daniels has become one of the top young right guards in football.
It feels a bit strange to still call Daniels “young” at this point, considering he’s already played four years in the NFL and has 48 career starts and 54 total games played to date in his career – all coming with the Chicago Bears.
Still, Daniels is just 24 years old and has played left guard, center, and right guard so far in his career. Now in Pittsburgh, Daniels appears to be settling in at right guard, hoping to plug the hole that remains from the surprise summer release of former All-Pro right guard David DeCastro in the summer of 2021 due to injury.
With youth and experience on his side, Daniels has a very bright future ahead in the black and gold, especially with a set position allowing him to truly settle in. That experience and age landed him on CBS Sports’ First Team All-Under 25 Offense Wednesday morning, compiled by Jordan Dajani.
“Daniels is an interesting player, because he should finally get some stability moving forward with the Steelers,” Dajani writes regarding Daniels’ selection for the team. “The former Bear moved around on Chicago’s offensive line, playing left guard, center and right guard over the past four seasons. In fact, he played just three snaps at right guard before this past year, per PFF. Daniels has been solid over his first four seasons, but last year was probably his best overall campaign. Interestingly enough, Daniels barely makes this list since he turns 25 just days after the 2022 regular season kicks off.”
Some stability — position wise — should do wonders for Daniels. As Dajani pointed out, the former second round pick out of Iowa moved around a ton in Chicago in his four seasons there. Still, the moves and the new positions didn’t cause any sort of decline in Daniels’ play.
According to Pro Football Focus’s grading metrics, Daniels scored between a 65.8 and a 71.0 in his four seasons in the Windy City. The 71.0 came in 2021, which ended up being a career-best to date. Through four seasons, Daniels has allowed just four seconds, 14 hurries and 70 total pressures in 2,026 pass block reps.
Finally settling into a set position in the Steel City should truly unlock Daniels’ full potential on the interior of the offensive line, giving Pittsburgh a young, experienced interior offensive lineman to build the new corps of the Steelers’ offensive line around under new position coach Pat Meyer.
Daniels joined names like Los Angeles Chargers’ standouts Justin Herbert and Rashawn Slater, Indianapolis’s Jonathan Taylor, Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase, and Kansas City’s Creed Humphrey on the Under 25 First Team Offense from CBS Sports.