Daniel Scott's patience paid off — and it's earned him a prime opportunity to begin his NFL career.
After a six-year college career at Cal, the versatile safety on Saturday was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round (158th overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft.
"This guy is an instinctive, athletic, fast player," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said of Scott. "(He's) a guy we've kind of been following the whole time through the process and liking every step along the way. He adds great depth and I think he'll compete."
Scott showed off his positional flexibility for the Golden Bears' defense — playing both safety positions, as well as some nickel cornerback. While it took two years for him to earn a full-time starting position, he quickly showed out as a productive defender and crucial leader for that unit.
In 2021, he led Cal with 82 total tackles and had a team-high-tying three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), while adding 4.5 tackles for a loss and two pass breakups. Last year, he had another 85 tackles (2.5 for a loss) and led the defense with three interceptions and two forced fumbles, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference honors.
Perhaps just as important is Scott's special teams prowess; he was a core special teamer at Cal, and he told reporters on Saturday after his selection by the Colts that he's well aware of the importance of solid special teams play at the next level.
"That's how I got my opportunity at Cal and that's probably how I'm going to get my opportunity with the Colts," he said. "So, just knowing that value and it being of value to the team is important. So, that's what I'm trying to do."
And, just like he eventually did at the college level, Scott believes his chances of playing in the secondary could also grow with time. The team currently returns several key contributors at safety in Julian Blackmon and Rodney Thomas II, as well as Nick Cross and Trevor Denbow, but defensive coordinator Gus Bradley showed last season he was willing to adjust the lineup at safety at multiple junctures.
"I think the hallmarks of my game are my versatility, playing both down safety, deep-high safety, playing a little bit of nickel reps. Then, obviously my versatility sometimes on special teams," Scott said. "I think my football IQ and instincts are second to none. So, I value that side of the game. It's not only just physical stuff but also mental."
View photos of California S Daniel Scott, selected 158 overall by the Indianapolis Colts.