Davis was primed for a huge 2011 before a serious ankle injury ruled him out for the entire season. Had he stayed healthy, he would’ve challenged Trent Richardson as the top running back in the country. He’s bigger than most runners at 6-0 and 226lbs, but he still has great speed and breakaway ability. If he can get back to his peak this year he’ll be competing with another returning runner – Marcus Lattimore – to be the first running back off the board in 2013. Davis is ranked at #11 on our top 40 watch list.
Archive for the ‘Game Tape’ Category
It’s easy to forget, but this time last year Landry Jones was going to be a top-ten pick. That was the consensus opinion among many high-profile draft pundits, an opinion that remained right up until he hit rock bottom at the end of last season. If you’d said this time last year Jones would remain at Oklahoma for his senior season, a lot of people would’ve laughed hysterically.
Oklahoma’s high-octane pass offense generates huge passing numbers and Jones threw more than 45 times in eight games last year, recording 4463 passing yards along the way. Believe it or not, both numbers were lower than his 2010 totals. Nobody could question Jones’ production, but was it taken for granted that statistics = quality? On August 17th last year I wrote a piece questioning his suitability as a top-10 pick, noting: “Jones isn’t close to the same level as Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley and talk of him going in the top ten is premature. However, he is at the top of a list of second tier quarterbacks who can really pump up their tires with a great 2011 season.”
Unfortunately, the tires went flat.
A few weeks later I noted: “Because he doesn’t have explosive physical talent or elite accuracy, you’re always going to be wondering whether he can cope with a much more demanding system and whether he’ll stand out (in the NFL). Teams will gamble on a Jake Locker ‘getting it’ because he looks like John Elway physically if not necessarily in terms of performance at this early stage in his career. Teams won’t always gamble on a guy with all the yards and scores you’d ever want, but with a lingering concern that without his vast array of swing passes and screens he’ll just be found out.”
Jones consistently looked poor in big games, especially the one you’ll find below against Oklahoma State. You’ll hear a lot of reasons why he didn’t declare for the 2012 draft but let’s get one thing straight here – the main reason is because his stock was lower than a snakes belly. Coming back was absolutely the right thing to do, because he at least has a shot to leave on a more positive note. Jones isn’t going to develop into a more mobile passer who can improvise, get out of the pocket and make things happen on his own. He will always be a system and timing quarterback, glued to the pocket. But if Oklahoma wins a lot of games and Jones puts up monster numbers, he’ll have much greater momentum to take into the draft. He had zero momentum at the end of the 2011 season.
I’m completely sceptical as to whether he can wrestle a pro-career out of the NFL, but he has a year to convince at least one team he’s worth the shot. Personally I’d struggle to give him anything more than a mid-round grade, but given the way teams are drafting quarterbacks these days he could go higher.
Note – thanks again to JMPasq for providing us with these videos.
Credit where credit is due, this is the best Landry Jones has looked for a long time. Hopefully that is down to some form of epiphany at the end of last season rather than the quality of opponent in week one. Yet there are some encouraging signs here.
For starters, Jones looks slimmer. He was too big last year and his mobility was non-existent – he was like a great big block of stone in the pocket. Against UTEP he looked lighter and nimbler, his footwork was better and he kept a few plays alive. He still took some avoidable sacks, but there’s evidence of improvement. The key will be not slipping into old habits against stronger opponents.
Even so it’s good to see Jones has been working during the off-season. I’ve no way of knowing whether he got into a comfort zone last year but there are plenty of reasons why that could’ve happened. Oklahoma were the pre-season #1 team and many expected the Sooners to win because of their quarterback. Jones was being hyped up by multiple members of the national scouting fraternity as a top NFL draft pick. He’d also witnessed Sam Bradford’s positive rookie year having left the same offensive system. Life was good for Landry Jones.
Yet when the season began, he was awful. He relied totally on scripted plays, often throwing blind or without making any kind of read. He forced throws, he took sacks. He’d crumble under any kind of pressure. By the end of the year they were taking him out of the red zone and playing a rushing quarterback. He didn’t declare because he knew his stock had been obliterated. Instead of being the top-10 pick people were projecting in the summer, he was now a mid-rounder at best.
It looks like that experience acted as a wake-up call. This is only one game, but it’s better. He’s always had a good arm and the first touchdown pass is one of the best you’ll see all season. At 1:02 in the video above he drops back, makes a couple of reads before throwing to the opposite side of the field for a huge score to Kenny Stills. Note the Manning-esque stutter-step footwork. Note the arm – there are quarterbacks in the NFL who cannot make that throw. It’s incredible. He benefits greatly from elite pass protection on the play, but he makes the most of it.
There’s the usual dose of scripted plays here and one thing that will always bother me with Jones is the scheme. He’s programmed to avoid deviating away from what he’s told. The best quarterbacks in the NFL have multiple options at the LOS and make the correct decision as the play unfolds. The ability to improvise is a key, underrated aspect when looking at potential pro-quarterbacks. Defenses are not going to make life easy for you at the next level and being able to respond to adversity is a big-time characteristic. For Oklahoma, Jones more often than not knows exactly where he’s going to throw before he even leaves the huddle. This has led to mistakes in the past with teams second guessing the play-call and even in this video you’ll Jones snap, turns to his left and throw semi-blind to a covered receiver.
That won’t cut it at the next level, but there are positives in this video. If he can show a little more inspiration, continue to improve his footwork in the pocket and keep making big plays – he can propel his stock to a level many still continue to project. I remain sceptical for now, but he has a lot of football left to show he’s worthy of a place in round one.
There’s been a lot of negativity about Logan Thomas’ performance against Georgia Tech this week. It wasn’t a great display, far from it. But neither is it worth the collective tutting among certain members of the draft community because he didn’t put up 400 yards and score multiple touchdowns like Geno Smith.
First of all, this was classic Virginia Tech. And by that, I mean lousy play calling at the start of a new season. It happened last year against Clemson (their first real test, and first defeat), against Boise State in week one the year after and Alabama in 2009. For some reason the Hokies are perennial slow starters before picking up speed as the year develops. The play calling has a large part to play.
In this one against Georgia Tech, they ran Logan Thomas in five of his first ten touches. He’s a decent runner, but he’s not Cam Newton. What’s more, he seems to be carrying a bit of extra weight this year and while he’s still a good athlete – he’s better off using his legs to extend plays rather than running the ball more than the back in the opening quarter. I get the impression he was never completely settled, always keeping the option to run in the back of his mind and taking an edge off his passing accuracy. He seemed to be a fraction off for most of the night. There wasn’t much flow to get at here – a lot of short stuff but not enough plays to stretch Georgia Tech. It was all so predictable and unchallenging. The fact Thomas wasn’t playing a great game didn’t help, but neither was he helped by a stodgy game plan.
Alarm bells rang across the country as he short-armed another short pass. It was a bit reactionary. He actually didn’t make any glaring errors, didn’t turn the ball over once and still won the game. For a further example of the bad play calling – when Virginia Tech were driving to save the game with seconds left they called the same short pass to the left sideline for minimal gain. Even on third down. Thomas pulled them out of the water on fourth down and they got a field goal to go to over time.
He’s the kind of quarterback who naturally doesn’t take a ton of risks, he plays a solid game. He’s got the arm to make most middle-range throws look easy. Fast forward to 3:39 in the video and you see a nice short drop, recognising the coverage and firing a dart that only his receiver can catch over the middle. It’s a good, solid completion made easy. His first touchdown pass shows excellent touch and placement. The pass at 7:38 is a very good throw fit into a tight window. His second touchdown is a nice play downfield, although the coverage isn’t great from GT. The only really poor decision I see on the video is the pass at 4:51 which is a head scratcher. Is the receiver running the wrong route? It kind of looks like he just throws an ugly ball and he almost gets picked off.
Considering how negative people have been about this game, it’s still a 230-yard performance with two touchdowns and no turnovers with a further 40-yards rushing. He led his team from a losing position to a crucial victory against a tough conference opponent. If we’re saying that’s not good enough – and Thomas will play better – it’s testament to his potential.
Not every quarterback is going to show the technical quality of Mark Barkley or the mass-production of the Dana Holgorsen-coached Geno Smith. On Monday Thomas was compared to a cluster of quarterbacks none of which really fit (Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick). He has the same size and physical potential as Ben Roethlisberger (he’s not elusive like Big Ben) but his game is very similar to Josh Freeman. That might not excite people much these days, but there’s a place in the NFL for a starting quarterback with that skill set. He won’t make many mistakes, he’ll take what he’s given and he has the arm and mobility to be a difference maker.
For what it’s worth I don’t think he’ll declare for the 2013 draft unless he’s lights out. He didn’t attend the Manning Passing Academy this year and has another year to run at VT. I think the likelihood is he’ll stick around before entering the 2014 draft.
This guy could easily be next years #1 pick. I’m a big Matt Barkley fan, but Logan Thomas is the one quarterback who could go above him in the 2013 draft. Big arm, plus mobility, a little Big Ben to his play and he still has another level to reach. He impressed as a first-year starter but can still get even better. He’s at #2 on our top-40 watch-list for next year, but he could be the first name off the board if he declares.