By this time next week, the 2019 NFL Draft will be over and undrafted free agents will be getting signed all around the league. Where will the Miami Dolphins stand after the Draft? Will they have the foundation in place to build this team back to the glory days? Will they have their franchise quarterback, or will they really be waiting until 2020 for that final piece?
This morning, we move on to the fourth prospect in our draft profile series, adding to past articles featuring Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, and Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat. The Dolphins need a quarterback of the future, someone who could potentially sit on the bench this season behind Ryan Fitzpatrick before taking the offense next year - or in 2021 even. Could that player be Duke quarterback Daniel Jones?
Daniel Jones bio
Age: 21 (May 21, 1997)
Born: Charlotte, North Carolina
High School: Charlotte Latin School, Charlotte, NC
After initially committing to Princeton, then switching to Duke, Jones started his college career with a redshirt season as a freshman. Coming back as a redshirt freshman in 2016, Jones assumed the starters role for Duke, holding it for three seasons. He threw for 8,201 yards on 59.9 percent completions with 52 touchdowns and 29 interceptions over 36 games. Playing in just the third quarter of this year’s Senior Bowl, Jones threw for 115 yards with a touchdown, plus a rushing touchdown, to win the MVP award for the game.
Daniel Jones measurables
Weight: 221 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.81
Vertical jump: 33.5
Broad jump: 120.0
3-cone drill: 7.0
20-yard shuttle: 4.41
What they are saying
Paddi Cooper, Fake Teams - Duke’s Daniel Jones is an enigmatic player to watch and try to profile. He has prototypical size (6’5”, 220lbs), and displays some the sort of athleticism that is in high demand in quarterbacks entering the NFL in recent seasons. Jones also demonstrates a nice touch on certain types of pass, but his college numbers are pedestrian and he leaves college with a win percentage barely over .500 over his last two seasons. One of my biggest concerns was highlighted by Warren Sharp, where he compared this year’s quarterback crop and studied their numbers when playing the best and worst pass defenses. Jones barely made 60% of his passes against the worst pass defenses he faced (and only 54% against the best), just 6.7 yards per attempt and a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio, all way behind the other top rated passers in this year’s class. Comparison: Josh Allen.
Just_JoRo, Mile High Report - If you’re looking for a poor man’s combination of Kyler Murray’s mobility, Dwayne Haskins pre-snap reads, and Drew Lock’s experience, Daniel Jones may be your quarterback in this class. A 3-year starter for Peyton Manning’s former QB coach, Jones completed 764 passes for 8201 yards, 52 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions with the Blue Devils. To be perfectly honest, Daniel Jones would not be drafted before Day 2 most years. The fact that he’s in the discussion as a first-round pick really emphasizes the sad state of this quarterback class.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com - Three-year starter who operates with a rare level of quality mechanics coming from the college game. Jones doesn’t have special arm talent, but he can make pro throws and has the ability to attack deep with accuracy. He completed just 59.9 percent of his career passes, but his receivers -- who dropped 38 passes this year alone -- really struggled to get open at times. Jones has good football IQ and is relatively mobile, but he appears to be more of a game manager than “franchise” talent. He’s more of a Day 2 draft pick than Day 1. Comparison: Ryan Tannehill
Joe Marino, The Draft Network - A three-year starter for renown QB guru David Cutcliffe at Duke, Jones has the size, athletic ability, experience and pedigree the NFL is looking for. With that said, he doesn’t have top arm talent and lacks development in terms of anticipation, decision making and vertical passing that cautions his projection. It should be noted that Duke’s offensive line was poor, as where his receivers which certainly limited Jones to an extent. I don’t see a high level NFL starter in Jones, but he has low level starter upside with more development. Third-round value.
Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network - Jones is a big, smart, tough quarterback, and anytime you have a combination of those three, you’re going to have some fans. I like a lot of Jones’ game, but watching him fail to have the ball velocity I believe is needed in the NFL makes it tough for me to think he’s anything more than a mid-round guy. If you can’t make all the throws, your team will always be looking to upgrade, and if that’s the case, you’re not taking a guy like that in the first two rounds -- or you shouldn’t. If Jones has the velocity we just haven’t seen yet, I get it. But, for now, if you ask me, he’s a mid-round guy that can be a preferred backup and spot starter.
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports - Daniel Jones has drawn comparisons to in Peyton and Eli Manning, just a couple of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. That’s in part because he played for David Cutcliffe at Duke, but also because he physically resembles the Mannings at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and scouts have said that he has similar mannerisms -- how he holds the balls, how he drops back, how the ball leaves his hand. But Jones is both more athletic and more inconsistent than the two brothers who were high first-round picks and destined for the Hall of Fame. Strengths: Jones played for David Cutcliffe and the nuances of his game are more refined than the other quarterbacks in this class. He’s good with his pre-snap reads, is very mobile, is accurate on shorter routes -- though he suffered from substandard receivers at Duke (Jones ranked No. 2 in FBS in passes dropped, according to PFF). Weaknesses: Arm strength is a question -- Jones floated balls during the Senior Bowl game. His decision-making can also get him into trouble and his accuracy suffers on deep passes and when he’s forced out of the pocket. NFL teams need to figure out if his struggles are a function of playing behind a suspect offensive line with average pass catchers or if that’s who Jones is no matter who you surround him with. Comparison: Josh McCown.
PFF Analysis Team, Pro Football Focus - PFF’s fifth-ranked quarterback in the class is Duke’s Daniel Jones. At 70th overall on the PFF draft board, Jones is a third-round prospect who is likely to be overdrafted. He has shown that he has the capability of making big-time throws in inapt situations but tries to force too many of them when they just aren’t there. Jones faltered when the pocket collapsed, recording a 59.7 passing grade against pressure. It didn’t help matters that he had the most dropbacks under pressure than any of the other top quarterbacks in the class. Nonetheless, his unwillingness to go down when faced with pressure and effort made to make a throw hampered his performance more than it helped.
Mike Tagliere, FantasyPros - Arm Strength: This is one of his biggest weaknesses and the reason for some of his interceptions. He’ll try and squeeze a ball into a tight hole, but it takes too long to get there and enables the defender to close on the ball. While it would help if his receivers got more separation, Jones needs to understand his limitations and not throw a ball into harms way. Accuracy: Saw three passes that went over 30 yards in the air that went off the receivers’ hands versus Virginia Tech and all of them may have been touchdowns. There were others against Pittsburgh and Virginia that would have been touchdowns, too, so his deep accuracy that’s often questioned may not be as bad as some think, though he could put some more air under those. Pocket Awareness: He understands what it means to step-up into the pocket rather than floating outside the hash marks like many quarterbacks in this class do. He does a good job of keeping his eyes up while trying to evade rushers and doesn’t see ghosts. The way he maneuvers the pocket reminds me of Philip Rivers, as he keeps the ball high, side-steps, and gets skinny to evade rushers. Vision/Decision Making: He’s very quick to abandon his downfield receivers to check the ball down. His processing speed is relatively quick. You could see that because they ran a lot of RPOs that required him to see things as they happened and make quick decisions. He stays calm with pressure on top of him for the most part (not against Clemson) and seems to understand where he should go with the ball, even if his arm strength doesn’t allow him to do some things. It did seem like he’d throw deep at times simply because he was tired of dinking-and-dunking a defense, but that’s part of decision-making and an area he can get better. Comparison: Ryan Tannehill.
Charlie Campbell, Walter Football - Duke’s head coach, David Cutcliffe, is one of the most valued and respected quarterback gurus in football. He was the coaching mentor to both Peyton and Eli Manning, and at Duke, Cutcliffe provided Jones very good preparation for the NFL over his three years as the Blue Devils’ starting quarterback. There is a lot to like about Jones, and he has the potential to be a franchise quarterback with his ability to be a pro-style pocket passer. Jones has a strong arm and can really spin the ball. That was clearly seen by area scouts and the rest of the league at the Senior Bowl. Jones has the ability to make all the throws needed for the NFL. He can loft in touch passes downfield and throw some fastballs into tight windows. Jones is very good at putting air underneath his touch passes to drop them in the bucket and throws a very catchable ball. As a passer, Jones does have things to work on for the NFL. He can hold the ball too long and not pull the trigger fast enough. With the speed of pro defenses, Jones has to be more decisive and get the ball out faster when he has an open receiver. Jones’ timing should improve with more experience and coaching. There were also too many times when Jones would force some throws into coverage. He can trust his arm too much and sometimes throws passes that he shouldn’t. It also wouldn’t hurt Jones to shorten his delivery, which will help him to be effective for the faster pro game with its smaller windows of time to complete passes. It would also help him by reducing the time for pass-rushers to get to him. For the 2019 NFL Draft, Jones looks like a consensus first-round pick from speaking with team sources. He could become a franchise quarterback and be a good pro starter. Three general managers told me they thought that Jones would rise in the leadup to the draft and be the first quarterback taken. Regardless of if he is the initial signal-caller to go off the board, Jones should be a top-20 pick.
Video breakdowns and film
Should Dolphins be interested?
I know there are going to be Dolphins fans who see the comparisons to Ryan Tannehill and immediately run away. That is not fair to either Tannehill - who is a better quarterback than a lot of Dolphins fans want to admit - or Jones - who has not done anything in the NFL yet. That said, I cannot get behind any idea that Jones is a first-round pick.
Jones has better touch than some credit him having, but the concerns of his arm strength are real. I have no idea how some list him as the quarterback who should be selected first among this year’s quarterback draft class - that clearly has to be really old data, right? I am not against the Dolphins picking Jones, but it has to be on Friday and not with the 13th overall pick on Thursday night. He needs time to develop, and I cannot see him as the “franchise” quarterback that you immediately grab if he is on the board.
He looks the part of an NFL quarterback, but I do not see him as an immediate starter in the league. He needs time to develop, and, while the Dolphins could give him that time with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting this year, it should not be at the expense of the 13th overall pick. If Miami can pick him in the second- or third-rounds, great pick. But, given this year’s quarterback class, I would expect him to go late in the first round - likely to a team who has an established quarterback, has a winning team, and can use the pick to stash away a developmental quarterback.
How would you grade the Dolphins pick of Daniel Jones?
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