As the NFL draft approaches, Utah offensive lineman Braeden Daniels figures to find a home at the next level — at any number of positions.

“What I tell the players is, in my opinion, the more marketable you are the more opportunities you have at the next level.” — Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding

In 49 games with the Utes, the 2022 Pac-12 All-Conference first-team selection has had experience at left guard, left tackle and right tackle under offensive line coach Jim Harding. 

That’s one of the things that NFL teams like about Daniels, according to the feedback that he’s received. 

“My versatility, my explosiveness off the ball, my quick-twitch off the ball; me being able to play a bunch of positions and just my IQ of the game,” he said. “Being able to repeat back the plays I’ve learned and give them what they’re giving me and trying to make it as easy of a transition as possible.”

Daniels, a 6-foot-4, 294-pounder from Carrollton, Texas, is confident that he can play center in the NFL, too. 

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“I definitely have been playing all different positions. Coach Harding has been talking about being marketable since I was a freshman,” he said. “I’ve been playing guard, center and tackle. I have some spring game film at center and some practice tape at center. These guys (in the NFL) want to see if I can play center.”

Harding feels Daniels can play center, too. 

“I do. I don’t know what goes into it at that level but because of his length and his football IQ and his foot speed, things like that, I think that’s where he’s best suited,” he said. “But it depends on the scheme and the organization. That’s my personal opinion.”

Harding trains his players to be versatile. 

“What I tell the players is, in my opinion, the more marketable you are the more opportunities you have at the next level. You look at somebody like Braeden Daniels last year,” Harding said. “He never played center in a game but we have film that’s been requested of the reps he took at center in practice from NFL teams.

“That’s a great example of what I just said. The more positions you can play, and show on film, whether it’s in practice or on Saturday, you have a better opportunity down the road.”

Daniels’ future in the NFL is bright, according to Harding. 

“The thing that jumps out is what he did at the combine. He finished in the top 10 in just about every testing category. When teams sit down with him and put him on a board or make him watch film, I think they’ll see a guy that has tremendous football IQ. A guy that’s versatile,” he said. “A guy that loves football. You can coach him hard. He transitions to the NFL very positively.

“I’m excited to see what happens for him in the draft. I have nothing but great things to say about him,” he continued. “Any NFL team that asks about him, that’s my opinion, I say the same thing. He’s got a lot of flexibility. One thing you don’t see on film until you talk to him is, he’s got a high passion for football and he’s an extremely smart kid.”

Daniels said Utah has prepared him well for the next level. 

“There’s no difference between being at the University of Utah and the next level. That’s something that I feel like the University of Utah prides itself on — the development of players,” he said. “I just need to be myself and that’s what they want to see in these interviews — what type of person you are, what type of player you are and how you’re going to act when they give you a bunch of money.”

Daniels is eager to get his shot in the NFL. 

“I try to keep my head down and continue to work,” he said. “Wherever I go, I’m have aspirations to go Day 2 but I understand that it’s Day 2-to-undrafted for me. It’s cutthroat but I’m excited and ready to hear my name called.”

Utah offensive lineman Braeden Daniels runs a drill at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 5, 2023. The Utah offensive lineman finished in the top 10 in almost every test he took for offensive linemen at the combine. | Erin Hooley, Associated Press