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.