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2015 NFL DRAFT
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Danieal Manning

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 202 | College: Abilene Christian
 
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Overview

One of the best-kept secrets in college football, at least until his stellar performance at the 2006 East-West Shrine Game, Manning is creating a pleasant problem for NFL teams that have suddenly caught interest in this talented athlete -- where to play him.

A collegiate strong safety, Manning has the blazing speed and experience to handle man coverage duties at cornerback. With his range and closing burst, some teams are also considering him at free safety. With his natural hands and success on offense, Manning was also worked out at the wide receiver position at the Indianapolis Combine.

He also has excelled as a kickoff and punt returner. With all of this talent rolled into one player, it is amazing that this player slipped through the cracks at Nebraska, where he originally signed a letter of intent coming out of high school. Abilene Christian faithful had the great pleasure of seeing him play the past three years. In 2005, he was the only active member on the school's All-Century Team.

Manning was a three-year starter at Corsicana High School, leading the 9-4 club to a regional final appearance as a senior in 2000 by recording 67 tackles, three interceptions (two returned for scores), five fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown), ten pass breakups and three blocked kicks. He was named second-team All-State by both the Associated Press and Texas Sports Writers Association.

Manning was ranked the 16th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com. He was also an outstanding performer on the track team. As a senior, he finished second in both the triple jump and 100-meters at the Class 4A state meet with marks of 48'11.75" and 10.34 seconds, respectively. He was also fourth in the 200-meters at 21.28. He finished second in the triple jump at the 2001 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays with a mark of 49-3. He had the fourth-best 100-meter time in the nation as a prep senior (10.34) and the 12th-best triple jump mark.

Manning was recruited by Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Arkansas and Alabama. He originally signed with Nebraska in February 2001 as one of the top defensive backs in the nation. However, he never enrolled at the school, instead enrolling at ACU in January 2002.

Manning was named third-team All-American at defensive back by the Football Gazette after recording 56 tackles (28 solo) and leading the Lone Star Conference with six interceptions in 2003. The strong safety also averaged 35.9 yards on seven kickoff returns with a touchdown and 9.2 yards on 23 punt returns that year. He also saw action on offense, catching six passes for 191 yards (31.8 avg) and two touchdowns.

He earned first-team All-American accolades as a return specialist in 2004, as he led the nation with a 22.0-yard average on 15 punt returns with two touchdowns and ranked sixth in the Division II ranks with 13 kickoff returns for a 29.2-yard average, including a score. He posted 54 tackles (29 solos) with five stops for losses, six pass breakups and two interceptions. He recovered two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, caused a fumble and blocked a kick.

Manning was again chosen first-team All-American as a defensive back and return man in 2005. He averaged 26.8 yards with a score on 13 kickoff returns and 12.8 yards on 19 punt returns with a score. He collected 49 tackles (33 solos) with a sack and two stops for losses. Manning caused two fumbles, recovered another and blocked three kicks. He had three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown and batted away four passes from the strong safety slot.

In 30 games at Abilene Christian, Manning recorded 159 tackles (90 solos) with two sacks for minus-9 yards and 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He recovered four fumbles, returning one 44 yards for a score, and had six forced fumbles. Manning blocked four kicks, deflected 13 passes and gained 99 yards with a score on eleven interceptions. He returned 33 kickoffs for 980 yards (29.7 avg) and a school-record three touchdowns. He added 784 yards and a school-record three scores on 57 punt returns and had nine carries for 20 yards (2.2 avg) and eleven receptions for 219 yards (19.9 avg) and two scores on offense.

Analysis

Positives: Has a V-shaped frame with good upper body muscle tone, tight skin, strong grip and strong thighs and calves … Has outstanding speed and change of direction agility, along with very good leaping ability … Times his jumps well and has good hand/eye coordination … Shows the vision to diagnose the play and is very quick to defend his territory … Shows good discipline in and out of his breaks, doing a nice job of mirroring receivers and is effective using his hands in attempts to reroute his man at the line of scrimmage … Shows quick feet in transition, along with the balance, body control and sudden hip turn to accelerate and close on the ball … Has good anticipation ability playing deep in the zone and takes good angles with a very quick burst to close … His transition skills, speed and ball awareness skills let him make up ground when beaten …

Catches the ball naturally in his hands and has the ability to reach and pluck the ball at its high point … Aggressive in run support and delivers hits that really stand out on film … Very good at avoiding blockers to attack the ballcarrier … Has no fear squeezing through tight spaces as a returner and while he has an explosive burst, he is patient waiting for blocks to develop, but is a valid home run threat once he gets a crease.

Negatives: More comfortable working in the zone than in man coverage, as he still needs to get a better feel for route progression … Has the ability to pursue the ballcarrier, but needs to do a better job of turning plays back inside … Hard hitter, but will sometimes take a side rather than wrap to secure … Charges hard to fill, but does not have the lower body strength to push the pile and struggles to gain separation once the bigger blockers lock onto his body … Does not keep his head on a swivel in man coverage and will try to make the big play by attacking the ball rather than staying tight on the receiver … Good at locating the ball, but does peek into the backfield too much and can be fooled by play-action and misdirection.

Manning is a very interesting prospect. Usually, when a player comes from a small college level, there are concerns about the level of competition faced. However, he simply dominated at his level and even though it was only one week of practice, he was one of the better performers at the East-West Game.

The big thing for NFL teams to decide is what position to play Manning at. He has the loose hips and speed to mirror receivers, but does not seem comfortable enough in man coverage to be a cornerback. He is fast coming out of his pedal, but is inconsistent in keeping relationship with his assignment as he tries to make the big play and attack the ball rather than stay on the receiver's route.

Manning does not have the bulk to play his collegiate position (strong safety) and while he is a willing supporter vs. the run, he is only adequate in this area. He needs to do a better job of using his hands to shed blocks. He is quick to come up and fill, but lacks the lower body strength to prevent the lead blocker from washing him out of the holes.

With his range and closing burst, he might be a better fit as a free safety. He can close in a flash, plays the switch-off effectively in the zone and is good at anticipating and getting a jump on the ball vs. plays in front of him. Some teams look at his running stride and natural hands and are convinced he can be a capable change-of-pace receiver.

There is no questioning his return skills and he will bring immediate value as both a punt and kickoff returner at the next level. Because of the level of competition he faced, he will probably not be ready for primetime as a rookie, but he can be capable of handling nickel duties in a sub-package. At least that will give a team time to decide where he bests fits in its scheme.

Career Notes

Holds the school career-records with three kickoff returns for scores, three punt returns for scores and six total kick returns for touchdowns, breaking the old mark of five total kicks returned for scores by V.T. Smith (1946-48) … Manning and V.T. Smith are the only players in school history to have two punt returns for touchdowns in one season (73 yards and 55 yards in 2004 for Manning and 71 yards and 70 yards in 1948 for Smith) … Only player in Lone Star Conference history to score on a kickoff return, punt return, fumble return, interception return and reception in a career … His kickoff return average of 29.7 yards broke the old Lone Star Conference career-record of 25.3 yards by Jerry Clement of Stephen F. Austin (1962-65 and rank fourth in NCAA Division II history behind Glen Printers of Colorado State-Pueblo (34.0 avg, 1973-74(), Karl Evans of Missouri Southern State (30.0 avg, 1991-92) and Kevin Cannon of Millersville (29.8 avg, 1992-95) … His 2003 kickoff return average of 35.9 yards was the highest by a Lone Star Conference player since David Hurst of East Texas State averaged 38.0 yards in 1949 … His 2004 punt return average of 22.1 yards was just shy of the conference season-record of 22.1 yards by Curtis Guyton of East Texas State in 1965 … Only active participant on the varsity squad to also be a member of the school's All-Century Team … Manning is only the second Wildcat football player to ever earn back-to-back All-American honors, joining end Von Morgan (1953-54) … Manning is also the only ACU football player to ever be named first team All-American at two positions … Manning and former ACU standout Dennis Hagaman (1963-64) are the only two players in Wildcat football history to have two kickoff returns for touch-downs of at least 90 yards … Manning and V.T. Smith are the only two players in ACU football history to post a kickoff return for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and a pass reception of at least 70 yards for a touchdown in their careers … Manning and Dennis Hagaman are the only players in school history to have a punt return for a touch-down and a kickoff return for a touchdown in the same season (2004 for Manning; 1963 and 1964 for Hagaman).

2005 Season

Earned All-American first-team honors as a defensive back from The NFL Draft Report and American Football Coaches Association, adding first-team accolades as an all-purpose back from The Poor Man's Guide to the NFL Draft … Was the leading vote-getter among defensive backs on the Daktronics' All-Region team … All-Lone Star Conference first-team choice … Ranked eleventh in the nation with 13 kickoff returns for 349 yards (26.8 avg) and a touchdown … Returned 19 punts for 243 yards (12.8 avg) and a score … Returned three interceptions for 47 yards and a touchdown … Started all year at strong safety, ranking fifth on the team with 49 tackles (33 solos), including a 7-yard sack and two stops for losses of 9 yards … Deflected four passes and blocked three kicks … Caused two fumbles and recovered another … Also saw brief action on offense, catching five passes for 28 yards (5.6 avg) and carried nine times for 20 yards (2.2 avg).

2005 Game Analysis

Central Oklahoma … Opened the season with three tackles (2 solos), an interception, four punt returns for 83 yards, including a long of 59 yards and four kickoff returns for 117 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown with 3:21 left to play … Intercepted a Justin Allgood pass in the first quarter, returning the ball 35 yards for a score.

Northeastern State (Okla.) … Made five tackles with four punt returns for 25 yards, as he blocked a 46-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter and later blocked a punt in the fourth quarter that was recovered by ACU's Chris Morris for a 20-yard touchdown return, as the Wildcats rallied from a 14-0 deficit with less than eight minutes to play to beat the Redmen, 20-14, in overtime.

Texas A&M, Commerce … Added five solo tackles as he caused and recovered a fumble, returned two kickoffs for 46 yards and had a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the first quarter … Chased down Cedric Patt on a 44-yard reception, causing a fumble on the tackle that Manning recovered for a touchback with 2:22 left in the game.

Eastern New Mexico … Had five tackles and a 7-yard reception.

Southeastern Oklahoma … Added three solo hits, a pass deflection and two catches for 13 yards … Also picked off a Justin Pitrucha pass and returned two kickoffs for 42 yards.

Angelo State … Deflected a pass and posted three hits.

West Texas A&M … Registered six solo tackles with four carries for 15 yards and two punt returns for 30 yards.

Tarleton State … Was in on six tackles, including one that stopped tailback Derrick Ross for a 2-yard loss on a first-and-goal run early in the second quarter, but also was penalized for grabbing Ross' face mask … Picked off a pass thrown by QB Richard Bartel, returning the ball 12 yards to set up a 16-yard touchdown run by ACU's Taber Minner in the second quarter.

Texas A&M, Kingsville … Delivered four tackles (3 solos) and batted away three passes.

Midwestern State … Closed out his career with nine tackles (7 solos), causing a fumble when he sacked QB Ryan Roberts for a 7-yard loss on a third-and-9 play at the start of the second quarter, with linebacker Cody Stutts recovering the ball … Also returned four kickoffs for 106 yards, including a long of 42 yards.

2004 Season

First team All-America selection as a return specialist by Football Gazette and American Football Coaches' Association, adding second-team honors from the Associated Press and Daktronics … Honorable mention All-America defensive back by Football Gazette …

First-team NCAA All-Southwest Region defensive back by Daktronics … All-Lone Star Conference first-team choice and named Lone Star South Division Defensive Back of the Year … Earned conference Player of the Week honors three times … Started every game at strong safety, finishing fifth on the team with 54 tackles (29 solos), including five stops for losses of 10 yards … Caused a fumble and recovered two others, returning one 44 yards for a score … Deflected six passes, blocked a kick and intercepted two passes for 11 yards in

Returns … Ranked sixth in the nation with thirteen kickoff returns for 380 yards (29.2 avg) and a touchdown … Led the Division II ranks with fifteen punt returns for 330 yards (22.0 avg) and a pair of scores.

2004 Game Analysis

Central Oklahoma … Opened the season with six assisted tackles and blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by A.J. Haglund in the second quarter.

Northeastern State (Okla.) … Made five tackles (3 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and a pass break-up … Gained 67 yards on three kickoff returns and 89 yards on two punt returns, including a 59-yard touchdown in the first quarter … Also picked off a pass thrown by QB Dustin Workman.

Tarleton State … Registered eleven tackles (7 solos), including one that stopped tailback Carl Steward for a 2-yard loss at the end of the third quarter … Gained one yard on a fumble recovery after QB Adam Johnson dropped the ball and also picked off a third-and-8 pass thrown by Johnson in the third quarter for a 1-yard return … Added a 25-yard kickoff return and a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, earning LSC Player of the Week honors.

Angelo State … Earned LSC Player of the Week accolades again after picking up 119 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 91-yard touchdown … Posted nine tackles, including one that stopped tailback Alexis Cooper for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-5 run at the start of the fourth quarter … With 2:30 left in the game, Manning caused a fumble that he recovered on a third-and-1 run by fullback Bill Renfro, returning the ball 44 yards for a score.

West Texas A&M … Delivered four tackles with a pass deflection and recovered a bad snap at the start of the second quarter.

Texas A&M, Kingsville … Deflected three passes and was in on five tackles (3 solos).

Midwestern State … Had four tackles, a 36-yard kickoff return and three punt returns for 42 yards in the season finale.

2003 Season

Third-team All-American selection as a defensive back by Football Gazette … First-team NCAA All-West Region choice by Daktronics … First team All-LSC South Division picjk and named LSC South Division Freshman of the Year … Earned conference Player of the Week honors twice … Took over strong safety duties, ranking fourth on the team with 56 tackles (28 solos), including a 2-yard sack and 4.5 stops for losses of 24 yards … Caused three fumbles and recovered another … Deflected three passes and led the conference with six interceptions for 41 yards in returns … Gained 251 yards on seven kickoff returns (35.9 avg) and a touchdown … Returned 23 punts for 211 yards (9.2 avg) … Saw action as a receiver in the team's final two games, hauling in six passes for 191 yards (31.8 avg) and two scores.

2003 Game Analysis

Texas A&M, Kingsville … Named the LSC South Division Special Teams Player of the Week after he returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and picked up another 74 yards on five punt returns in ACU's 21-7 win … The kickoff return is the fourth-longest scoring play in ACU history … Also had three catches for 65 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

West Texas A&M … Had three receptions for 126 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown catch from Colby Freeman.

2001-02 SEASONS

Did not play … Originally signed with Nebraska in February 2001 as one of the top defensive backs in the nation. However, he never enrolled at Nebraska, instead enrolling at Abilene Christian in January 2002.

Injury Report

No injuries reported.

Agility Tests

Combine: 4.47 in the40-yard dash … 2.64 20-yard dash … 1.61 10-yard dash … Bench presses 225 pounds 17 times … 39-inch vertical jump … 10'3" broad jump … 4.07 20-yard shuttle … 7.23 three-cone drill … 31 -inch arm length … 8 -inch hands.

High School

Attended Corsicana (Tex.) High School … Led the 9-4 club to a regional final appearance as a senior in 2000 by recording 67 tackles, three interceptions (two returned for scores), five fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown), ten pass breakups and three blocked kicks … Named second-team All-State by both the Associated Press and Texas Sports Writers Association … Ranked the 16th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com … Was also an outstanding performer on the track team … As a senior, he finished second in both the triple jump and 100-meters at the Class 4A state meet with marks of 48'11.75" and 10.34 seconds, respectively … Fourth in the 200-meters at 21.28 … Finished second in the triple jump at the 2001 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays with a mark of 49-3 … Had the fourth-best 100-meter time in the nation as a prep senior (10.34) and the 12th-best triple jump mark.

Personal

Physical Education major … His brother, defensive back Jonte Manning, and his uncle, wide receiver Tyjuan Manning, both signed with Abilene Christian in February 2004 … Born 8/09/82 … Resides in Corsicana, Texas.

 
 

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