NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – APRIL 25: Daniel Jones of Duke reacts after being chosen #6 overall by the New York Giants during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Daniel Jones has been one of the most scrutinized quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 in recent memory. The day after he was drafted the front page of the New York Post read: “Blue’s Clueless, Giants inexplicably take Duke QB No. 6”. Calling a GM clueless for a draft pick before letting him touch the field is ridiculous.

Most of the scrutiny stems from his team’s performance and his stats from his career at Duke. This only tells the partial story though, you have to dig deeper than box scores and records to truly evaluate a quarterback. Daniel Jones was not blessed with a talented supporting cast like Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. Jones was the entire Duke offense, the team was plagued with countless dropped passes and missed blocking assignments. Still, despite his poor supporting cast, he willed his team to eight wins. Jones is a flawed prospect with glaring problems but the intense criticism is unwarranted.

Daniel Jones Film Review

Accuracy

The trait that I weigh most heavily in my quarterback evaluation is accuracy. Nothing else matters as a quarterback if you cannot consistently put the ball where it needs to be. Despite having a lackluster completion percentage, Daniel Jones is an accurate quarterback. In the eight games I charted from the 2018 season, Duke had 36 drops. Out of the 24 passes he attempted in those eight games that were over 20 yards, nine of them were dropped. Jones has excellent ball placement and accuracy in the short passing game. Accurate past 10 yards across the middle of the field but struggles to place the ball accurately outside of the numbers.  He has a very inconsistent deep ball but showed the ability to make throws all over the field.      

This is the definition of a bucket drop. There was a very small window between these two defenders and Jones put it right on the money. Daniel Jones accuracy and ball placement within 15 yards are among his best attributes as a prospect.  

This is great ball placement to put it between two defenders. He is very accurate across the middle of the field in the intermediate passing game. Where he struggles is placing the ball accurately outside of the numbers.

Daniel Jones was inconsistent with his deep ball. In the eight games I charted from 2018, he was 5 for 24 on passes over 20 yards. Excluding the nine drops from that figure, he was 5 for 15 on deep balls. Coach David Cutcliffe just did not trust his offense enough to dial it up downfield. This was either because of Jones inconsistent deep ball or the Duke receivers inability to catch the deep ball but either way, there isn’t much tape of Jones throwing the deep ball.

Decision Making

Decision making is undoubtedly Daniel Jones’ biggest flaw as a prospect. He forces the ball into tight coverage way too often for an NFL quarterback. A lot of his poor decision making stems from his poor processing post-snap. He rarely makes full field reads and often decides where to go with the ball pre-snap which results in horrible interceptions. He struggles mightily when his pre-snap read doesn’t match his post-snap read and makes poor decisions. Has shown an ability to dissect zones and off man coverage but struggles to find where to go with the ball against press man.

Jones just makes too many poor decisions and forces the ball into coverage. On this play, he is immediately pressured but instead of throwing the ball away or even taking the sack, he throws a very ill-advised ball right to a defender. He needs to stop trying to make every play a big gain and live to play another down.

This is another decision that makes no sense. His receiver is running a go route and has absolutely no separation on the corner. The cornerback in coverage is Bryce Hall who is one of the top corners in the nation with excellent ball skills. Jones needs more situational awareness, this is an easy interception for Hall.

This is another inexcusable play by Jones. He consistently tries to make plays when there is nothing there. He threw a deep post with an NFL free safety play center field and an NFL cornerback in coverage with the receiver. This play had no chance of working and Jones really needs to improve his processing.

Arm Strength

There are two different aspects to the commonly used term: arm strength. The first aspect is the distance that the quarterback can throw the ball, the second and more important aspect is the velocity of the ball. Daniel Jones can throw for distance but lacks the velocity when pushing the ball in the intermediate area of the field. He throws lasers under 15 yards but the ball begins to lose speed when he pushes it downfield.

Being able to throw the ball 60-70 yards down the field is not an important trait for an NFL quarterback. There are rare instances in a season where a quarterback has to throw the ball that far. However, Daniel Jones can throw the ball deep, this ball travels 50 yards through the air with ease.

In this play, Daniel Jones demonstrates his velocity on short throws. He really has a knack for fitting the ball into tight windows. His sound mechanics allow him to create a lot of velocity on the ball in the quick passing game. However, Jones does not have elite natural arm talent so he struggles to create velocity on the deeper balls.

Pocket Presence

Watching Daniel Jones maneuver in the pocket is infuriating. There will be plays where he effortlessly steps up in the pocket avoiding a defender and delivers a strike. Unfortunately, there are just as many instances of him being oblivious to the pressure and taking an unnecessary sack.

On this play, Jones recognizes the defensive end stunting inside leaving no contain so he rolls out to the right. He delivers an accurate ball outside of the structure of the offense which is something he seldom did. Another great example of his good ball placement in the short to the intermediate passing game and ability to evade the pass rush.

At times Jones was oblivious to pressure. On this play, he has to recognize this corner creeping up to blitz off the edge. Instead, he looks flustered when he sees the defender coming free off the edge and panics. Jones should’ve made the easy pass to the running back who was in the area that the corner vacated when he blitzed.

In this clip, Jones quickly identified the blitz and replaced the defender with the ball. Whenever an extra defender is blitzing that means there is going to be a hole somewhere and the quarterback has to find it. Jones was so inconsistent in this regard but he displayed the ability to make plays like this.

Mechanics

Daniel Jones is a mechanically sound quarterback. He has a high release point and consistent throwing motion in a clean pocket. He tends to sidearm the ball when facing pressure which results in batted passes (12 in 2018). Has active feet in the pocket and is able to reset his feet with ease. When the pocket collapses he also tends to throw the ball flat footed but generally, he has great weight transfer from his base to release.

Watch how Jones stays on the balls of his feet allowing him to move throughout the pocket effortlessly. He plants his back foot and drives forward when delivering the ball which allows for optimal torque. Jones release point is over the top on this snap which is where he should finish on every play.

This is a perfect example of Jones mechanics breaking down under pressure. He has two defenders right at his feet and a man wide open down the sidelines but he can’t deliver. This is an inaccurate ball because of his feet. He stands flat-footed in the pocket and just uses all arm to throw the ball and doesn’t incorporate his base into the throwing motion which results in an inaccurate ball. 

Mobility

Daniel Jones is a legitimate threat as a runner. He was able to keep defenses honest with his legs and create some large chunk plays. Jones mobility also was able to move the chains in some short yardage situations.

Jones escapes from the pocket with a defender closing in on him and then makes the linebacker miss one on one with a subtle change of direction. When the pocket collapses he will always be a threat to take off and create a big play which is extremely valuable in the NFL.

This is another aspect where Daniel Jones shines running the ball. He has a knack for moving the chains when the ball is in his hands. This will translate well to the NFL and it will be interesting to see how NYG utilizes him in the running game.

Overview

The Giants were clowned on social media by nearly everyone for selecting Daniel Jones at six.  If you just look at his underwhelming completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns it’s easy to make fun of the Giants for taking him with their first selection.

It cannot be overstated how his supporting cast held him back. He never had time to sit in the pocket and his receivers dropped an astounding amount of passes. This isn’t an excuse for Jones, this is the fact of the matter.

Daniel Jones does have major flaws in his game such as his decision making and his inability to make plays outside the structure of the offense. He can rarely make off platform throws and he panics with pressure in his face and doesn’t process quickly post-snap. Despite these glaring flaws, there is a lot to love about his game. He is a surgeon against zone coverage and always finds a soft spot, he has great mechanics and footwork in a clean pocket. He is an accurate quarterback in the short to intermediate passing game, and he adds an interesting dynamic to his game as a runner. While it was a head-scratching move to many taking Jones at six, it isn’t hard to see the traits that made Gettleman fall in love.

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