Daniel Jones has been projected by many experts as a first round pick with three of four NFL network analysts mocking him in the top 15. Peter Shrager has him the highest at #13 to Miami, saying, “Jones, the Senior Bowl MVP who has great NFL size and maturity, was coached at Duke by David Cutcliffe — the same man who guided Peyton and Eli Manning during their respective college careers”
However, to say that Nick Whalen walked away unimpressed after watching Jones’ 2018 tape would be an understatement. Whalen compares him to notorious first round bust Blaine Gabbert. Jones is Whalen’s #7 QB. He says, “Daniel Jones isn’t a complete product as a quarterback, but could become a low end starter with a few years of development. If he can improve his feet and mental processing, I believe he could run an offense. However, he doesn’t have a high ceiling and I would be disappointed if an NFL team spent a 1st round draft pick on him.”
Fellow scout Emory Hunt is barely more generous saying Jones is “a Ryan Tannehill type who could have similar success in the league,” with a “3rd round [grade]…same grade I had on Tannehill”. His Football Gameplan rankings have Jones as the #18 QB in this draft. This analysis agrees with Nick’s that Jones should be no more than a dart throw in rookie drafts, even in superflex leagues. With all the hype, it is unlikely you will get him at that price.
Read below for Nick’s full scouting report on Jones:
Base and resetting feet
Grade: Day 2 NFL Comp: Blaine Gabbert
Full Scouting Report
Daniel Jones took over the starting job at Duke as a redshirt freshman, after an injury to Thomas Sirk, and never relinquished the position. Jones has great size at 6’5” 220 lbs and shows solid athleticism. He has the ability to be productive with his legs and shows the aggressiveness to utilize his skill set. Not only can he gain yards, but Jones can extend plays with his feet and buy time for his receivers. He’s not an amazing athlete in the Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, Michael Vick or Kyler Murray level. I also wouldn’t put him in the Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers or Mitchell Trubisky level. He’s in the next tier down where defenses aren’t scheming to stop his legs, but he’s capable of extending drives.
Jones is a tough quarterback who sacrifices his body to make plays. The previous statement is both a positive and negative. On the positive, Jones will hang in the pocket to deliver a pass and take the hit from a defender. He will finish off runs to gain a first down, touchdown, or additional yardage. The greatest “Jones is tough” fact comes from the 2018 season, when he broke his clavicle against Northwestern. After the surgery, Jones returned to practice 9 days later, and only missed two games! The negative takeaway is Jones withstands more punishment than is necessary and more prone to injury. He doesn’t slide or avoid hits in an ideal fashion. Like most quarterbacks who are productive with their feet, Jones is likely to miss NFL games unless he makes more business decisions.
One thing, which will be mentioned about Daniel Jones many times throughout the draft process is his Head Coach, David Cutcliffe. He’s known as a QB guru among some circles due to coaching Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. However, that’s where the miracles end because the last 20 years haven’t been as kind to Cutcliffe. Erik Ainge, Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfree have been his most notable quarterbacks until Daniel Jones.
Many qualities are apparent when watching Jones on film to see a potential starting quarterback. He’s a big quarterback with a good base in the pocket. He keeps his feet underneath and climbs the pocket when he has room and to stay in rhythm with progressions. Jones shows solid arm strength when he steps into his throws and doesn’t lock onto one WR, which reveals a solid knowledge of the offense. When he sees the blitz coming, Jones prefers to throw into the blitz before defenders can rotate into their correct zones or guard their man. Jones keeps his eyes down the field with pressure and continues to keep scanning for an open receiver when rolling out.
However, Jones’ question marks leave serious concerns about his ability to be a long term starter in the NFL. While Jones is 6’5”, he allows many passes to get tipped at the line of scrimmage. With bigger and better defensive lineman, I’m afraid this problem will only become worse and lead to turnovers or being off script during drives. Jones shows a lack of pocket presence, which leads to many sacks. It’s difficult to discern if he’s hanging in the pocket too long or doesn’t have a good feel for pressure or both. Jones is very susceptible to edge pressure. One play he noticed a blitzing defensive back from his blind side, he turned away from the pressure and looked for an open receiver. The defensive back continued on his path to Jones, knocked the ball free and Duke turned the football over.
He doesn’t anticipate well when throwing to receivers. Jones waits until they’re open and throws the football. This appears to be a processing issue and something of big concern. When Jones decides to let passes go, they can be a little late causing unnecessary contested targets and interceptions. Despite having a good base in the pocket, Jones isn’t consistent with stepping into his passes.
Jones is more of an arm thrower, which takes away velocity on the football. Combining less velocity on the football and throwing passes late gives pause about his long term potential. Jones tends to put quite a bit of air on deeper passes to combat his lack of velocity. He also throws many passes with a downward trajectory and tends to short hop many passes to the outside. He is a generally accurate quarterback, but doesn’t tend to lead his receivers consistently in ways to promote yards after the reception.
Daniel Jones isn’t a complete product as a quarterback, but could become a low end starter with a few years of development. If he can improve his feet and mental processing, I believe he could run an offense. However, he doesn’t have a high ceiling and I would be disappointed if an NFL team spent a 1st round draft pick on him.