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Would Duke QB Daniel Jones be worth 17th pick in NFL Draft? Analysts are mixed

Jones gets chance to impress Tuesday at Duke Pro Day

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice-North
Daniel Jones
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The last of the Big 4 quarterbacks, or maybe the first quarterback in the second tier depending upon your perspective, of the 2019 NFL Draft class gets his chance to show off for NFL scouts on Tuesday. That’s because Duke will hold its Pro Day, with quarterback Daniel Jones the featured attraction.

Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, Drew Lock of Missouri and Dwayne Haskins, considered the top three quarterbacks, have all held their Pro Days. The Giants were well-represented at each of those workouts. With GM Dave Gettleman and co-owner John Mara both having expressed a preference for finding a quarterback in this draft to groom behind Eli Manning, Jones figures to get similar attention from Giants’ brass.

Jones has been a polarizing evaluation for draft analysts. Some see a player worthy of Round 1 consideration, perhaps as early as No. 6 overall — the Giants’ first pick. Others see a player who will, at best, be an average NFL starter and should not be considered unless he remains available to the Giants in Round 2, where they have the 37th overall selection.

I reached out to several talent evaluators for their opinions on Jones. I asked them specifically if they felt Jones would be deserving should the Giants want to select a quarterback with their second first-round selection, 17th overall. Below, their answers.

Matt Williamson, Locked on NFL podcast

Williamson is also a former NFL scout and ESPN analyst.

“From what I have seen of Jones, he looks like a second round prospect. I get that QBs get bumped up and deservedly so, but I would be far more comfortable taking him early in the second round (or Will Grier for that matter).”

Scott Wright, Draft Countdown

“Jones is my QB4 and I have him as more of a Top 50 value, but it’s impossible to overpay for a QB. If they Giants like Jones I don’t have an issue at No. 17.”

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

“No. I have a second round grade on Jones. I think he can develop into a B-level starter in the NFL. He is a cerebral passer with active feet and eyes, but he doesn’t have any exceptional physical traits and his internal clock needs work.”

Dan Kadar, SB Nation

“If you can cut out the familiarity with him due to the David Cutcliffe connection and the high value of quarterbacks, no. He’s actually sort of similar to Manning in terms of his pocket movement and how he throws the ball. His arm is fairly average. His leadership attributes have been questioned. He was just okay at the Senior Bowl when he had a higher level of talent than he had at Duke. It’s also hard sell if you consider the stats of Jones being seventh in quarterback rating, sixth in completion percentage and eighth in yards per attempt just in the ACC last season. He’s worth a pick in the second round. And maybe he’s a good player to develop because he’s poised, tough and can read a defense. But it’s hard to see first round traits in him.”

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football

Campbell is a believer. From Campbell’s scouting report on Jones:

“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.

Player Comparison: Eli Manning. Jones has the look of a Manning with his strong arm, pocket presence, field vision, and passing polish. In terms of his flaws, Jones is more similar to Eli Manning than Peyton Manning.”

Jon Ledyard, Draft Network

Ledyard said he did not believe Jones was worth the 17th selection, and pointed me to his scouting report on the Duke quarterback. Here is Ledyard’s summary:

A smart quarterback with good mechanics outside of a slightly elongated delivery that will probably always be there, Daniel Jones ran David Cutcliffe’s dink-and-dunk offense very efficiently despite poor protection and lots of drops from his receivers. He can throw with touch down the field and pace between the hashes, but his lack of arm strength and deep ball accuracy prevents a lot of the tougher throws from being completed.

Jones will be at his best in a West Coast/short-intermediate passing attack in the NFL, as he is as his best on short drops getting the ball out quickly and on time. Inconsistent pocket presence and an inability to consistently throw accurately when forced off-platform will require a stable environment with some playmakers in order for an offense led by Jones to reach its’ peak. He’s a solid college quarterback, but his limitations will be a lot more evident against an NFL defense, especially those that thrive on man coverage and can force him to make tight window throws.

Be sure to com back as we will have more from Jones’ Pro Day once we find out how it went and who represented the Giants.