9. Mike Daniels, Defensive End
The evolution of Mike Daniels has been slow and steady. Coming out of high school he was offered scholarships from only two schools and was rated a two-star prospect. He was then drafted in the fourth round by the Packers in 2012.
It may have taken a couple seasons, but the second consecutive Hawkeye on the list has shown he’s one of the best in the business. Daniels was named to his first Pro Bowl last season despite showing consistent growth as a player in each of his years as a pro. As of last season he stands at 27 career sacks; a terrific number for an interior lineman.
Standing merely six feet tall, Daniels is able to use his low pad-level as leverage against taller offensive linemen. What he lacks in height he makes up for in weight. Daniels comes in at 310 pounds, but you wouldn’t know it by how agile he is. He’s extremely quick off the snap, using effective finesse moves to wreak havoc in the running game.
Daniels has been a late-bloomer since being drafted, but has been one of the best defensive tackles in the past few seasons. He really started coming on as a threat in 2014 during his first full season as a starter, which earned him a huge contract extension in 2015. Daniels should have plenty of great years ahead, but as of now remains at No 9 on the list.