I had the opportunity to sit down and watch some Oklahoma tape last night, with the purpose of taking a greater look at quarterback Landry Jones. There’s a lot to like about his game and equally some question marks too. The Oklahoma offense is geared towards high-tempo, quick passes to keep the defense off guard. There’s a lot of passes into the flats, a lot of underneath throws, crossing routes and screens. A lot of the time when you’re watching Jones, you’re making excuses for the big time production (4718 yards, 38 touchdowns in 2010) which is, in fairness, a by-product of the offense he plays in.
However, there are 3-4 passes per game that really jump off the screen. Difficult throws into tight windows down the middle, throws on the move where he has to disect a couple of defenders and a deep ball that isn’t in the Ryan Mallett category, but is certainly acceptable for a pro-level.
The issue remains, however, that Jones averaged 44 pass attempts per-game last season. Against Oklahoma State alone he threw 62 passes. While he is capable of making pro-level throws, it’s drowned out by a lot of simple, easy passes that dominate the offense he works in and certainly makes life easier because of the tempo. What I’ll be hoping to judge this year is whether Jones is capable of turning those 3-4 passes into 6-7 per game and then whether he’s capable of making those tough throws in a more complex offense when he might only be throwing 20-30 times each week in the NFL.
I understand why people have projected him highly – possibly even as a top-five pick. At 6-4, 225lbs he looks the part, the arm strength is good enough and he has shown a flash of quality – but there have also been games such as Missouri last year where he was outshone by Blaine Gabbert in a high pressure environment. As a red-shirt junior you expect he’ll declare for the 2012 draft if he repeats the production witnessed last season and with Matt Barkley more of a question mark as a true junior, at this stage he has to be considered the #2 ranked quarterback behind Andrew Luck. It’s still early though and as we saw last year with Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, prospects can develop over a season and end up being unexpected high draft picks.
I’ve added highlight videos for two of Jones’ performances last season, but remember that these are positive highlights only. The Florida State game also gives your the opportunity to watch a famous Christian Ponder meltdown, expressing exactly why Minnesota pulled off a major panic reach taking him 12th overall when Gabbert and Jake Locker left the board.
Another video I wanted to add comes courtesy of Draft Breakdown, who have already moved onto their 2012 prospect tape. Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry was 6th in the country for sacks last season, registering twelve in total. The 16th overall pick this year, Ryan Kerrigan, managed 12.5 for his senior season. He’s not the biggest at 6-5, 242lbs but by adding an extra 10-15lbs he is a possible option as a LEO rusher in Seattle’s defense, or at least a productive pass rushing outside linebacker. His production also came against tough opponents such as Ohio State (two sacks), West Virginia (two sacks) and Southern Miss (two sacks). Below I’ve added the Draft Breakdown video showing all of the plays he impacted against Ohio State.
Finally for now, ESPN analyst Todd McShay has provided his annual attempt at an early mock draft. The 2012 first round is now available in full to ESPN insiders. If you don’t have an account, I’ve listed the top-ten below:
#1 Cleveland – Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
#2 Carolina – Quinton Coples (DE, UNC)
#3 Washington – Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
#4 Buffalo – Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
#5 Denver – Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#6 Arizona – Donte Paige-Moss (DE, UNC)
#7 Seattle – Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#8 Tennessee – Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#9 Oakland – Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
#10 Cincinnati – Jenoris Jenkins (CB, Florida)
It’s hard to argue with most of the picks. People will question the Jenkins suggestion at #10 considering the doubts about his future, but for me he’s a legitimate top-ten talent who was superb against Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffery and AJ Green last year. I’m not sure Donte Paige-Moss warrants top-10 consideration heading into the 2011 college season, or Jerel Worthy for that matter. However, Quinton Coples and Jayron Hosley are two players to keep an eye on. Other big names not listed above are Trent Richardson (McShay has him at #12 to St. Louis), Landry Jones (#15 to Miami) and Brandon Jenkins (#25 to the New York Jets).