Rookie Scouting Report: Quarterback Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones, Duke
Weight: 221 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.82 seconds
Hand Size: 9.8 inches
This is the time of year where you’ll start hearing that everyone is moving up draft boards, but maybe none more than quarterbacks, and in this class, Jones fits the bill. He’s strictly a pocket-passer who does a lot of pre-snap motions to his receivers, reminiscent of Peyton Manning. Now, there’s not going to be many who can emulate the way he called plays at the line of scrimmage, but Jones sure likes to believe he can make an impact calling out certain defenders. After all, they both worked with the same coach, David Cutcliffe.
While at Duke, Jones started three years, though his numbers aren’t anything worth gawking over. He completed just under 60 percent of his passes, averaged just 6.4 yards per attempt, and threw 52 touchdowns compared to 29 interceptions. There are quite a few quarterbacks in this draft who boast better numbers than him, but was it due to the offense and the talent around him, or is he just an average talent?
Arm Strength/Throwing Mechanics: 2.0 out of 5 stars
This is one of his biggest weaknesses and the reason for some of his interceptions. He’ll try and squeeze a ball into a tight hole, but it takes too long to get there and enables the defender to close on the ball. While it would help if his receivers got more separation, Jones needs to understand his limitations and not throw a ball into harms way. There have been quarterbacks who’ve succeeded in the NFL with less-than-ideal arm strength, but they must be extremely fast processers and understand when it’s okay to take a chance. He keeps the ball high, but pats it too much, making it somewhat obvious when the ball is going to come out, and has a bit of a wind-up to throw the ball that could use some tuning. His footwork in his drops is solid, he steps into his throws most of the time, and when he doesn’t, there’s often good reason.
Accuracy: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Saw three passes that went over 30 yards in the air that went off the receivers’ hands versus Virginia Tech and all of them may have been touchdowns. There were others against Pittsburgh and Virginia that would have been touchdowns, too, so his deep accuracy that’s often questioned may not be as bad as some think, though he could put some more air under those. He often put his receivers in a good position to catch the ball, but his windows close faster than others because of his lack in arm strength. It also didn’t help that his receivers rarely gained separation. Don’t ask him to throw the ball in the rain because that’s a disaster but count me as someone who doesn’t think his accuracy is the problem.
Mobility: 2.5 out of 5 stars
He took off and ran quite a bit while at Duke, but he’s not going to offer much from a mobility standpoint in the NFL. He’s a straight up-and-down runner who does offer solid size, so he can’t be tackled very easily, but he’s also not someone who’ll break tackles. It’s good to know he’s willing and has the experience to run the ball if needed, but he’s just average when it comes to his mobility.
Pocket Awareness: 3.5 out of 5 stars
He understands what it means to step-up into the pocket rather than floating outside the hash marks like many quarterbacks in this class do. He does a good job of keeping his eyes up while trying to evade rushers and doesn’t see ghosts. The way he maneuvers the pocket reminds me of Philip Rivers, as he keeps the ball high, side-steps, and gets skinny to evade rushers. He’s not the most athletic or mobile guy, but he’s got good enough pocket awareness to know what he can get away with.
Vision/Decision-Making: 2.0 out of 5 stars
He’s very quick to abandon his downfield receivers to check the ball down. His processing speed is relatively quick. You could see that because they ran a lot of RPOs that required him to see things as they happened and make quick decisions. He stays calm with pressure on top of him for the most part (not against Clemson) and seems to understand where he should go with the ball, even if his arm strength doesn’t allow him to do some things. It did seem like he’d throw deep at times simply because he was tired of dinking-and-dunking a defense, but that’s part of decision-making and an area he can get better. He’ll miss the deep safety at times, which will get him in lots of trouble. It’s not just deep, either, as there are mental lapses at times when he throws into double-coverage over the middle of the field, too. In the end, his vision and decision-making are a bit inconsistent. He can also stare down his first-read too often, which is ultimately why you saw a lot of tipped passes on his film. He’s not someone who will create much on his own, but rather someone who plays well when the play goes as designed.
Anticipation: 2.0 out of 5 stars
Saw him throw right around the time of a receiver’s break, so he’s not someone who always waits to see it. Part of the issue with throwing with much anticipation is that his wide receivers were ultra-inconsistent with their routes. You didn’t see him throw to a spot on the field very often, which could be the offense that was run, but it could also be his lack of anticipation. I found this to be a difficult part of his game to evaluate because of the offense and his receivers lack of consistency.
Potential Landing Spot
There are some willing to bury Jones on their big board, and while I can’t say I blame them, he’s not horrible. There are some bright spots to his game, while most aspects are slightly below average. Does that call for a first-round pick? Not in my book, but there’s a good chance he goes there. If the Giants pass on a quarterback at No. 6, we could see them take him around No. 17. The Redskins are a team in his range at No. 15 as well, though there are some who think Jones could be the second quarterback off the board and goes top-10. He shouldn’t be in my eyes, but hey, stranger things have happened.
There’s a lot of traits you can pull from his game that remind me of NFL players, though it’s tough to find one who clicks on all levels. His pocket movements reminds me of Philip Rivers, his cadence reminds me of Eli Manning, while his arm strength reminds me of Ryan Tannehill. I suppose Tannehill wouldn’t be the worst comparison because he has some mobility, has a below-average arm, and struggles throwing to the sidelines. Jones may be smart, and it may help that he was coached by the same guy who coached the Manning brothers, but he’s not there yet. He should be looked at as a backup in the NFL right now who needs to work on some things before getting an opportunity.