Measurables: 6-foot-3, 245 pounds.
2014 stats: 48 receptions, 527 yards and four touchdowns.
Owen Daniels is a former quarterback, who converted to tight end early in his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin. Once he switched primary positions, he still remained the team’s backup quarterback.
With that kind of athletic track record, the Houston Texans selected Daniels with the No. 98 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft (fourth round). He made an immediate impact as a rookie, catching 34 passes for 352 yards and five scores.
In his eight seasons with the Texans, Daniels was elected to two Pro Bowls (2008, 2012). His best statistical season came in 2008. He posted career highs in receptions (70) and yards (862). Daniels has proven to be a durable player, with 109 career starts under his belt.
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He tore his ACL in November of 2009, but bounced back and now enters 2015 with receptions in 103 consecutive regular season games, tying with the Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten for the longest active streak among tight ends.
Following the firing of Gary Kubiak, Bill O’Brien came to Houston and promptly released the Texans second all-time leading pass-catcher. Daniels would follow Kubiak to Baltimore, where he signed a one-year deal.
Although he initially started out the 2014 season as the Ravens No. 2 TE, he became the starter when the oft-injured Dennis Pitta went down early in the season. Daniels started 13 regular season games and two playoff games and served as quarterback Joe Flacco’s security blanket over the middle.
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As an unrestricted free agent, Daniels again followed the coach who drafted him, when Kubiak signed on as the new head coach of the Denver Broncos this past spring. John Elway inked Daniels to a three-year, $12M contract.
Daniels not only brings vast NFL experience to the Broncos, but he’s also arguably the second-most accomplished tight end in the history Kubiak’s scheme, behind only Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. Daniels isn’t the most dominant of blockers, but it’s a craft he’s committed to and he makes up for any shortcomings in that department in the passing game, where he’s a proven weapon.
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In tandem with Virgil Green, Daniels is on tap for a very productive season. Not only will he play in the same offensive system that he has for the entirety of his career, but he’ll get to catch balls from Peyton Manning, who has a habit of helping his tight ends and receivers put up career numbers.
As a No. 1a and No. 1b, we should expect to see Daniels and Green on the field together regularly. Daniels’ career high for touchdowns came in 2012, when he caught six scores. In the same system, playing with Manning, he could see those numbers double.