Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Mike Daniels: Labeled Packers ‘Secret Superstar’

Over the course of the past two seasons, it seems Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels has been fighting from the ground up. His place on the Packers roster has been tenuous, at best, as he has hung around the fringes until given the chance to shine.

And he’s taken advantage of those opportunities.

Profootballfocus (subscription)  recently named him as the Packers “secret superstar,” a guy who has shown nothing but promise when he’s been on the field.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is sacked by Packers defensive end Mike Daniels
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

But it’s taken him some doing to actually see the field. Had it not been for injuries, and position changes, Daniels would be an unknown. Instead, when he’s had the chance to rush the passer and cause disruption in the offensive backfield, he’s been the guy to do it.

The piece by  over at profootballfocus provides indepth analysis of Daniels’ contributions. Though the numbers aren’t eye-popping, they are impressive given the number of snaps Daniels has played. He has been injury-free and has stepped to the forefront when fellow defensive linemen were shelved in 2012 and 2013.

He fit well into the Packers nickel package the past couple of seasons, but many personnel changes have occurred in the past five months along the D-line. How Daniels will fit in with a line that no longer has Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson is uncertain at this point. But given his production in the pass rush, one has to think he will be given a shot to make the roster once the pads go on.

Even with the additions of Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion in free agency and Khyri Thornton through the draft, Daniels will have his shot. The Packers have added a layer of competition that will surely be one to watch in training camp. Not only will Daniels and the others mentioned above be working for a job, but so will the likes of Jerel Worthy, Josh Boyd and even B.J. Raji.

For certain is the fact that the Packers used nearly all of the 2013 draft on defense and another 40 percent this year, so improvement on that side of the ball is expected, though not guaranteed.

As in seasons past, injuries have played a huge role in the productivity of the defense. Losing guys like Johnny Jolly, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Casey Hayward to injury doesn’t help the team. In addition, the loss of Aaron Rodgers and the subsequent increase in playing time for the defense didn’t help either.

Staying healthy is an important factor for the Packers. With their starters on the field, this could be one of the most dynamic and punishing defenses in the entire league. However, with the frequency of injuries in the NFL, it’s not if, but when they will occur. By continuing to draft well and utilize free agency when needed, the Packers should once again have the depth to overcome those adversities.

And with guys like Mike Daniels waiting to shine, the Packers should be in a good position for another run to the playoffs. Maybe this year they will once again make that deep run through the playoffs.

Dec 23, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Jamie Harper (23) (left) rushes with the football as Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels (76) defends during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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  • David Hofstedt

    You speak about Daniels like he’s a fringe player. With the defense that the Packers will run this year Daniels will shine! On obvious passing downs the Packers actually have options this year, as long as they stay healthy. Just think, the Packers could have Peppers, Matthews, Perry, Bradford, Daniels, Neal, Perry, and Datone Jones on the field at the same time. Who’s getting doubled? Who’s coming and who’s dropping in coverage? The Packers will have close to 60 sacks this year, That kind of pressure will make the secondary look great. Daniels will have at least 8 sacks this year.

    • paul allen

      I’m gonna make a bold prediction and say Green Bay makes top 12 Defenses in the league this year. Rushing D top 8. Passing D top 14

      • paul allen

        Ironically, while the reorganization and D focus is happening Rodgers and Lacey will put up 6,000 all purpose combined yards

      • David Hofstedt

        Agreed but I think they’ll even be better than that. For example, if they just stayed healthy like say the 49ers have. The Niners started pretty much the same team in week one as they did in the wildcard game. They were even HEALTHIER with Crabtree back. The Packers? The lost Shields and Neal in the 1st few series of the game. I hope this new study the Packers are using this year with players training habits help. With Clinton-Dix, Shields, and Hayward healthy and Williams playing like he did at the end of the season, this defense will win a lot of games.

  • chris

    Yea I am sorry this is one of the dumbest articles I have ever read. Daniels was the best def lineman on the team last year. He had 6.5 sacks last year which is outstanding for an interior dlineman. He has never had to battle for a roster spot and if you think he isn’t a lock to make the 53 you are a moron. He’s is one of the defenders they are building around not a guy who is jist a backup. Learn some football.

  • chris

    Also the draft that was almost all defense was 2012 not 2013.