The first thing you notice when looking at the 6-foot-5 Duke QB Daniel Jones, is how eerily similar he resembles Rams passer Jared Goff. His stature and presence in the pocket is elite, as he can always find the right read and buy time to get his wide receivers the ball.
With a less than adequate offensive line, Jones has racked up 1,457 yards and 13 touchdowns in just six games this season. He also has just four interceptions. When looking at Jones, you can see that he’s more of a pocket passer, which is ideal for a New York Giants team that tends to lead towards taller, more stable quarterbacks than ultra-mobile ones. The best part about Jones is that he has the ability to extend plays with his legs, but he also can stand in the pocket and deliver throws under pressure.
Here’s a clip of Jones leading Duke’s offense against Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils start the game off slow, struggling to convert on third-down and have a tipped ball intercepted early on. I wanted to provide a rather off performance from Jones to break down his weaknesses.
While the young passer shows his poise and ability to escape the pocket, his decision making is sometimes too risky. One of the most exciting aspects is his ability to throw on the run and look to pass first. In the modern day NFL, quarterbacks often choose to run and expose themselves to injury. Ensuring that your signal caller is always looking to pass first helps avoid circumstance where the team must go on without their starting quarterback.
Let’s take a look at his strengths:
- Quick to process his reads and scans the entire field. He can identify a receiver that is going to get open when breaking into their routes, which is a higher level of mental processing at the NFL tier.
- Has a big, strong body that allows him to put power behind his throws and avoid sacks
- Fundamentally sound. Good footwork and throwing motion.
- Puts zip on the ball and get squeeze passes into tight spaces.
- Able to avoid sacks and extend plays with his legs if need be.
- Throws receivers open on deep balls and puts just enough loft on it for his man to run underneath.
- Is calm in the pocket and doesn’t get rattled by incoming pressure (queue Giants’ terrible offensive line)
- Can get happy feet when pressure gets to him.
- Needs to get the ball out quicker and have better awareness.
- Tries to extend plays when it’s better to get rid of the ball. Take a sack or throw the ball away instead of risking injury.
- When he’s pressured a lot he tends to lose some accuracy.
- Has had injury issues in the past. Will need to be smarter at the NFL level to avoid missing significant time.
By looking at these two lists, it’s fair to say he has a ton of potential at the professional level. My biggest concern is his injury history and recklessness with the ball in his hands. He needs to develop an understanding of taking a loss or not risking his health when it’s unnecessary.
Despite those concerns, he has the tangible and intangible attributes to be a starting caliber passer in the NFL. Of course, he needs some refinement in specific areas of his game, but overall he would be a solid draft choice given the Giants have a semi-decent offensive line to protect him.