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Daniel Scott Scouting Report | California DB | 2023 NFL Draft

Daniel Scott Scouting Report | California DB | 2023 NFL Draft
Daniel Scott Scouting Report | California DB | 2023 NFL Draft

Daniel Scott Background

In Daniel Scott’s prep days at St. Francis High School  – a highly-successful program in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley – he flew under the radar as a two-way prospect in the 2017 recruiting class.

Throughout Scott’s three-year varsity career at St. Francis, he was a two-way powerhouse for the Golden Knights, racking up 73 catches for 1255 yards to go along with the 14 touchdown receptions on offense, while adding 119 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, seven interceptions, 12 pass breakups on defense. Despite earning Angelus League Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2016, Scott only had two offers – Hawaii and Fresno State – one month before National Signing Day (NSD). That was until the California Golden Bears came in and made a last-second attempt to bring Scott onto campus for a visit just a few days prior to NSD.

Fortunately for Cal, they did enough to impress Scott, earning a signed letter of intent from the 6-foot-3, 205 pound defensive back to close out the Golden Bears’ 2017 recruiting class.

In 2017, Scott spent his first season at Cal as a redshirt, seeing valuable practice time on the Golden Bears’ scout team defense.

Scott would see an uptick in playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2018, appearing in 10 games off the bench and contributing four tackles and a fumble recovery against TCU in the infamous 2018 Cheez-It Bowl.

In 2019, Scott would become an impact player for Cal’s defensive and special teams units, seeing action in 11 games, including a start in the Golden Bears’ RedBox Bowl win against Illinois. On the season, Scott recorded 16 tackles and one interception, which occurred in Cal’s Big Game victory over the Stanford Cardinal. After the season, Scott was named the Golden Bears’ Most Valuable Special Teams player, foreshadowing a heavy increase in playing time for Scott during the 2020 season.

Unfortunately for Scott and the California Golden Bears, the Coronavirus pandemic thwarted much of the program’s upward momentum after a successful 2019 campaign. Plagued by the City of Berkeley’s extreme Covid-19 regulations and protocols during the Winter of 2021, the Golden Bears only played four games. Though Cal finished its season with a 1-3 record, Scott was a bright spot on the Golden Bears’ defense, starting in three games at safety and posting 20 tackles, which included an 11-tackle performance against UCLA in Scott’s hometown of Pasadena, CA.

In 2021, Scott burst onto the scene as a top performer on a Cal defense that boasted NFL talent all over the field, including SS Elijah Hicks (Chicago Bears), OLB Cameron Goode (Miami Dolphins), and ILB Kuony Deng (Chicago Bears). Scott started all 12 games in the Golden Bears’ secondary and accumulated a team-high 82 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, and two pass breakups. With strong performances against TCU, Arizona, UCLA, and USC, Scott earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors from Pro Football Focus (PFF) while finishing the season as PFF’s second-highest-rated safety in the Pac-12.

Prior to his sixth and final season as a Cal Golden Bear, Scott earned several preseason accolades from the college football media, including All-Pac-12 Preseason First Team recognition by the Pac-12 and an appearance on the Lott IMPACT Trophy Preseason Watch List.

Scott backed up all of the preseason hype, leading the Golden Bears in interceptions and forced fumbles while finishing the season as the team’s second-leading tackler. Overall, Scott capped his final season at Cal with 85 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, four pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. Scott would go on to represent Cal at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he was “arguably the most impressive safeties in Mobile all week,” according to SB Nation writer Joseph Acosta.

With his draft stock at an all-time high, it will be interesting to see if Scott can improve his draft position with a few more standout performances at Cal’s Pro Day and the NFL Combine.

Scouting Report

Daniel Scott is multi-tool safety with a well-developed frame and proficient size. Scott possesses high football intelligence, superb route recognition and DB instincts, and impressive closing speed. With a keen ability to diagnose route concepts pre and post-snap, Scott uses his sharp football mind to put him in a position to create big plays. To go along with his acute football intelligence and instincts, Scott combines a quick trigger and great straight-line speed to break on passes in the short, intermediate, and deep ranges of the field.

Scott’s high-level anticipation, range, ball skills, and ability to operate in both zone and man coverage make him a threat to create turnovers whether he lines up as a deep safety or box safety. Over his final two years at Cal, Scott created eight turnovers, displaying the ability to be a game-changing player in the secondary.

Due to his savvy football instincts, a durable frame, and underrated athletic ability, Scott boasts tons of position versatility and played all over the field in Justin Wilcox’s hybrid 3-4 base defenses. During his time at Cal, Scott lined up at deep safety for most of his career before transitioning to more of a box safety role in 2022. Regardless of where he lined up, Scott proved productive and impactful in whichever role he adopted. 

In addition to his position versatility, Scott will likely garner high interest from NFL teams based on his special teams versatility. Until the end of his Cal career, Scott was a mainstay on Cal’s punt, kickoff, and kick return units. Whether he’s asked to play gunner on punt or kick coverage or lead block on kick return, Scott will perform either task at a high level.

Throughout his college career, Scott was willing to come up from the safety position and make an impact at the line of scrimmage as a run defender. His quick trigger, high-contact courage, and mental/physical toughness allow him to make frequent tackles in the box and limit explosive plays. Scott possesses above-average tackle ability, displaying some inconsistency in making open-field tackles against quicker and more physical ball carriers. Still, Scott made plenty of clutch open-field tackles against some elite competition in non-conference and Pac-12 play, but you would like to see him do it with more regularity.

Above all the other positive qualities in Daniel Scott’s football profile, his best trait is his overall knowledge and understanding of the safety position. Telling by this play style, Scott makes it a priority to limit explosive plays on every snap. He rarely gets beat deep and works to keep everything in front of him at all times.

Scott’s high football intelligence, sharp instincts, position versatility, and special teams acumen will place him on many NFL draft boards in late April. Although he might not be a day-one selection, Scott will have many potential suitors looking to select him in later rounds.

Draft Projection

Mid 4th-Early 5th

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