Since these posts started last month, I've been telling everyone here that no 2012 quarterback prospects would be featured until at least November or December. Well, when I said that, I actually meant Oct. 13. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Chad Henne's season-ending shoulder injury was likely the final nail in the coffin of his career as a Miami Dolphin, and the recent signing of Sage Rosenfels couldn't have been any less of a vote of confidence for Matt Moore.
The quarterback issue in Miami is a lot like the Saw film series: gruesome to watch, and something that has lasted a lot longer than you hoped it would. If you think this team is absolutely cursed by the fact it never got Dan Marino a Lombardi trophy, you're probably right. And if you think the only way the Dolphins can break this Marino curse is by doing the unthinkable and drafting a quarterback within the first 32 picks, you're even more right. After all, the Dolphins organization has found almost every imaginable way to whiff on a franchise-caliber quarterback. Drew Brees wants to play in Miami? Let's pass on him for a dwarf Wisconsin corner who looks like Urkel. And once Brees' rookie contract is up, let's make sure to give him a physical and analyze his shoulder with a level of obsessive zeal that guarantees he'll never willingly return to South Florida (unless it's to win the Super Bowl with New Orleans in our stadium, of course). We have the No.2 pick in a draft where the 49ers are going to take Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers? Why would we want Rodgers? He'll only grow to one day represent all that is right with the the pass-first NFL. No big deal, and it's not like a Dolphins quarterback should have a beak that big anyway.
Without a stud quarterback, your chances of getting to the Super Bowl are nonexistent. Fortunately for us, there's a few blue-chip caliber quarterback prospects in this draft, including a player (Andrew Luck) who could be the highest-rated QB prospect of all time (and if he isn't the highest rated, he's at least in the ballpark). But what if we're not bad enough and Luck is long gone by the time we make our first pick next April? Perhaps we'll draft this guy.
Landry Jones, QB Oklahoma
Doesn't he play in the spread offense?
How right you are. Jones spends a lot of time in the shotgun, and certainly plays in an offense conducive to putting up big numbers. Jones is far from a one-trick-pony, however, and has taken a fair amount of snaps from under center while playing in Norman, Okla. Also noteworthy is his mental approach to the game, as Jones is very good at selling play action and looking off defenders, and is smart and decisive while scanning the field.
Yes, Jones' footwork can look sloppy and needs some refining (as many spread quarterbacks do), and he has a tendency to trust his arm too much and let it rip without even bothering to step into the throw, but Jones' mechanics are very solid for the most part, and should get even better at the next level.
How does he stack up to Andrew Luck?
Landry Jones is sort of like the yin to Andrew Luck's yang. You want a quarterback who is ultra-likeable and has the smarts to essentially manipulate any defense in his way? Then Luck's your guy. But if you want a quarterback prospect with more of a quiet demeanor, as well as the arm strength and accuracy to blow holes in any defense in his way, then you might want to consider Jones. True to Oklahoma's offensive mindset, Landry Jones has a "gun now, ask questions later" approach to playing football, and will rarely hesitate to put the ball in the air if he thinks his man can get behind coverage. Fitting the ball into tight windows is something Jones does consistently well, and he also has the rare ability to throw very accurately on the run. In fact, Jones is the most accurate quarterback in this draft (and that includes you-know-who).
Jones' arm strength is somewhere in the neighborhood of ballistic level, and it's easy to get the impression while watching him that he can throw the ball to any part of the field. His release is a quick, three-quarter motion, and he can throw at a high velocity even when his feet aren't completely set. Honestly, you won't find many college quarterbacks who can throw the ball harder and more accurately than Landry Jones. Yet, he's able to take off a bit of heat and throw a very catchable ball, too.
And if you absolutely must compare him to Andrew Luck, think of it like this: Luck's a can't-miss prospect, and Jones is the dark horse with loads of upside and extensive experience running a high-octane college offense.
But he's not Andrew Luck ...
I know, I know ... And I, too, will be disappointed if Stanford boy wonder isn't wearing Dolphins colors next spring. But as fans of a team that will likely undergo yet another regime change, it's important for everyone here to not lose sight of the other big-time quarterbacks in this draft. Are Landry Jones and Matt Barkley better than Andrew Luck? Of course not. But are they capable of being franchise-caliber passers in the NFL. Without a doubt.
Verdict: I'd rather have Andrew Luck (after I just spent the last 900 words convincing you otherwise), but Landry Jones will be much more than a consolation prize to any QB-starved team that falls short in the Luck sweepstakes. If we don't have the No.1 pick, I believe we'll take Jones.