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2019 NFL Draft Prospect: Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones ended his college career with a masterful performance against Temple in the Independence Bowl. The 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound quarterback’s size and arm strength have made him a popular first-round pick in recent mock drafts. Does he deserve that lofty consideration?

THE EARLY YEARS

Jones was largely overlooked as a two-star prospect from Charlotte, NC despite accounting for 53 total touchdowns as a high school senior. He walked-on at Duke after receiving just one scholarship offer. After redshirting in 2015, Jones played in 12 games in 2016, completing 63 percent of his throws.

2017 AND BEYOND

As a redshirt sophomore in 2017, Jones’ efficiency dipped. His completion percentage (57 percent), adjusted yards per attempt (AYA) (5.5), and passer rating (112) all decreased from the previous season. He bounced back in 2018, however, setting career highs in AYA (6.9), passing TDs (22), and passer rating (131.7).

As part of an atrocious cohort of college QBs with at least 1,000 career attempts and a passer rating under 125, Jones’ efficiency will not be his calling card during the draft process. But recent history has shown us that below-average efficiency in college isn’t necessarily a roadblock to premium draft capital.

DRAFT PROSPECTS

To get an initial read on whether Jones has earned his lofty billing let’s look at his career numbers against the five QBs selected in the first round of last year’s draft:

NameGamesCompletion %AYATD%INT%Passer RatingruYPCruTDS
Baker Mayfield 4868.510.68.82.0175.42.721
Sam Darnold2764.98.76.72.6153.72.47
Josh Allen2756.27.76.83.2137.73.212
Josh Rosen3060.98.05.02.2140.1-1.46
Lamar Jackson38578.56.42.5142.96.350
Daniel Jones3659.96.44.12.3122.93.317

Baker Mayfield was drafted first overall, vindicating the metrics crowd who campaigned for him all spring. But both Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson completed less than 60 percent of their throws and still made it inside the top-32 picks. I included yards per carry simply because of the impact made by Allen and Jackson in their rookie seasons. Jackson is obviously in a league of his own in this regard but Jones was on par with Allen as a runner.

This is an arbitrary comparison from a small sample set. And Jones was much less efficient overall compared to last year’s class. But viewed through the lens of an NFL executive desperate to find a franchise QB, Jones’ statistical profile probably won’t preclude him from first-round consideration.

Jones’ age (21.5) is also worth noting. Blair Andrews found that QBs who play their rookie season at age-22 have finished as a QB1 at least once in their first three seasons around 30 percent of the time. This is nearly the same rate as 21-year-old rookies and almost twice as often as any other age:

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Jones’ 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound frame is what NFL front offices dream about. His connection to famed QB guru David Cutcliffe is also likely to be highly valued by evaluators. Scouts believe that his touch, deep ball accuracy, and awareness are all plus attributes. And with Justin Herbert out of the picture, Jones’ draft stock is on the rise.

I still have my concerns based on his metric profile. But if he ends up a first-round pick with a clear path to playing time, he’ll likely warrant consideration in the second round range of most 2QB and Superflex dynasty league rookie drafts.

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