2019 NFL Draft gets big boost as possible QB1 Daniel Jones leaves Duke for pros
The quarterback crop available to teams in the 2019 NFL draft received a significant boost Monday with Duke quarterback Daniel Jones announcing his intention to forgo his final season of eligibility.
Jones, a prototypical 6-foot-4, 220 pound pocket passer, is one of two quarterbacks projected as first round picks in my all-new mock draft, following Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, a fellow underclassman who has not yet announced his plans.
Jones completed 60.5% of his passes for 2,674 yards and a respectable 22 touchdowns against nine interceptions in 2018. His numbers likely would have been better had he not missed two games in September (Baylor, North Carolina Central) due to a broken collarbone that resulted in midseason surgery.
Jones capped his career with an MVP performance in Duke's 56-27 win over Temple in the Independence Bowl, throwing for 423 yards and five touchdowns, both career-highs.
He leaves Duke with 8,201 passing yards, a career 59.9% completion percentage and 52 touchdowns against 29 interceptions with another 1,323 rushing yards and 17 scores on the ground over three starting seasons.
Hand-selected and taught by renowned QB guru David Cutcliffe the past four years, Jones enters the draft already ahead of most young passers from a mental and technical standpoint.
An over-the-top passer who throws a tight spiral, Jones is a terrific distributor of the ball, identifying weaknesses in the defense both pre and post-snap and utilizing a variety of receivers. Jones can make every throw in an NFL playbook, showing good timing and anticipation for perimeter passes and pillow soft touch. He is also a very willing runner, with good speed and decisiveness to take yards when the defense allows it.
The biggest knock on Jones -- at least in comparison to Missouri's Drew Lock and the top-rated senior quarterbacks -- is arm strength. While a natural thrower, the ball does not explode out of Jones' hand. Jones was asked to throw to the perimeter on occasion in Cutcliffe's shotgun-based offense but the majority of his throws were inside the hashes and within 10-15 yards, raising some question as to whether he would be as good of a fit in more vertical offense, especially one often being played in inclement weather.
While Jones' average velocity is a concern, because of his smarts, accuracy and underrated athleticism, Jones projects quite well in many of today's up-tempo offenses. In these ways, at least, he reminds me of a more athletic version of Nick Foles.