Why I’m rooting for Landry Jones

by Kip Earlywine

In my opinion, there are two truly special quarterback prospects in this draft (assuming they declare):  Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley.  After that, there’s a drop off point to the remaining quarterbacks, including Landry Jones.  I’m not as critical of the remaining quarterback group as Rob is, but I do agree that there is a big difference in quality after Barkley leaves the board.

However, I think its fairly certain that there will be more than two quarterbacks drafted in the 1st round.  On his current trajectory, I have a hard time seeing Landry Jones escaping it.  For one, quarterback prospects with no doubter first round tools usually become first round picks almost regardless of whatever issues they may have.  In recent years both Jake Locker and Josh Freeman have provided examples of this.  For another, teams value production, and Jones has certainly had plenty of that.  On a high profile, high ranked team no less.  You put that all together, and its very hard not seeing Jones as a top 15 pick, even if his game is far from perfect under close scrutiny.

And I think that’s a good thing, maybe a great thing.  And not because I think Seattle will draft Jones, but for the opposite reason.  A few notable draft experts have been harsh to Matt Barkley, giving him a grade in the late 1st round.  The real debate about this upcoming draft should be Luck vs. Barkley, but I suspect the actual debate will become Barkley vs. Jones for the honor of being the second quarterback off the board.  Luck’s draft hype is approaching legendary status, and he’s done nothing on the field to dispel it.  With Luck’s star shining so brightly, it creates the illusion that Matt Barkley is somehow a much lesser quarterback, which opens the door for Landry Jones.

The thing about draft stock is that so much of it is built on hype and reputation.  Right now, Landry Jones is leading an undefeated team that ranks #2 in the nation.  He’s likely to break Sam Bradford’s school records for passing.  What if he wins the national championship?  If he does that, you might even have some draft personalities playfully comparing his stock to Andrew Luck’s.  The storylines write themselves:  Jones even wears the same #12 jersey number as Andrew Luck (oddly enough, so does Austin Davis and John Brantley- two other QBs who could potentially force their way into round one).

So why is this  a good thing?  Well for one, anything that pushes Matt Barkley down the draft board is a good thing for the Seahawks.  Seattle has probably blown its chances for the #1 pick already, and after an impressive performance against the Falcons, I’m thinking 5 or 6 wins is certainly a possibility for 2011 Seahawks.  Perhaps Barkley could slip to the 10th pick after being leapfrogged by a bigger, stronger competitor like Blaine Gabbert was earlier this year, or like how Matt Leinart was in 2006.

The second reason that high draft stock for Jones is good thing:  it creates the perception that this is a quarterback heavy class, which might help entice a #1 picking team to trade out of Andrew Luck; the same way that Philip Rivers helped facilitate a deal for Eli Manning.  What if Landry Jones reaches Seattle’s pick, and a trade of Jones plus two future 1st round picks is enough to entice the top picking franchise into moving Luck?  Depending on how highly they rate Jones, that’s a possibility.  Same thing for Matt Barkley.  Its an expensive offer, but one Seattle should absolutely consider making.

A third reason would be that if Jones fell to the Seahawks pick, and Barkley was already gone, Seattle could use Jones as an incentive for other teams to trade with them.  Trading down in the first round isn’t easy, unless you’ve got a valued quarterback in your draft slot.  Trading down could make more sense than ever in 2012, as the first round prospects are looking weaker than usual but the 2nd round is looking relatively strong.  Seattle could swing Landry Jones and pick up Ryan Tannehill (or Austin Davis) plus Chris Polk in exchange.  Tannehill isn’t completely perfect, but at a minimum, I think he’s got what it takes to be an ideal fit as a point guard quarterback, and with a little time, could produce.  I think he’s the 2nd best point guard quarterback in this draft after Luck, and probably the 4th best quarterback overall.  I’ll refrain from grading Davis as I’ve seen so little of him, but what I’ve seen has impressed me.  Chris Polk deserves a topic in itself, but I think its hard to ignore the success he’s had in almost an identical offense to Seattle’s.

So why not have the Seahawks just draft Landry Jones for themselves?  I want to be clear that this post is not going to be a scouting report, and I won’t go into details just yet about his game.  That said, I’m a fan of Jones, and for the right team I could see him becoming successful in the NFL, but I don’t think that team is Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.  Recent events have convinced me of Pete Carroll’s true aim at quarterback.  I’ll have a separate post on this topic soon.  But for now, I’ll only say that I have a hard time seeing Pete Carroll drafting Landry Jones because of several trait mismatches.  Its possible that John Schneider could feel differently and create a behind the scenes controversy (I hope not, nor do I expect that), but outside of that remote possibility, I don’t think Seattle would draft him.   I won’t go in depth right now, but the reason I feel this way is because Landry Jones isn’t mobile, he’s inconsistent, and he’s a big play type quarterback.  Or to put it another way, he’s a less extreme Ryan Mallett with fewer NFL skills, and the front office avoided Mallett like the plague.  Mallett was a complicated case, but given that Carroll has already waited this long to find “Mr. Right” at quarterback, I don’t think he’d compromise now.

If Seattle can’t finish with the worst record in football to secure Luck (and they won’t), the next best thing is to hope for a crowded quarterback class at the top.  The more options there are at the top of the draft, the more likely the quarterback Seattle actually wants could fall to their pick, and potential attempts to maneuver for a quarterback either up or down would be easier to pull off as well.


  1. Turp

    I really liked this article, Kip. Well thought out and explained. I definitely see the wisdom in rooting for an overhyped, top-heavy QB draft class. I don’t see the Hawks picking higher than 5th.

    I’m hoping the offensive line’s improvement against ATL was due more to them improving, and less due to ATL’s terrible defense…if so, then I think 6 wins is pretty likely (barring injuries).

    • Kip Earlywine

      Thanks. I agree that barring a catastrophic series of injuries, its hard to see Seattle picking in the top 5. Even if injuries started mounting, Seattle is a surprisingly deep team now, and I bet John Schneider would make the most out of each IR that frees a roster spot.

      As far as the offensive line, I didn’t key into them this week while watching the game, but James Carpenter does seem to be improving a lot faster than we thought possible during the preseason.

      The Seahawks have a good defense to play from behind with since its designed to stop the run and is tough against the short pass. A big reason that Seattle almost completed its comeback was because the Falcons 2nd half conservative game plan on offense played to Seattle’s strengths.

      I thought the real story of the game was Tarvaris Jackson scanning the entire field. 7 Seahawks players finished with 3 catches or more. That’s incredible, especially coming from Jackson. The Seahawks offense felt almost unstoppable at times and Tarvaris Jackson’s improved performance was huge in that regard. If that growth isn’t a fluke, Seattle may actually still win the division. Or at least, it wouldn’t shock me.

  2. Rugby Lock

    Yet another good article Kip! Keep up the good work!! Looking forward to the promised article!

    • Kip Earlywine

      Thanks. I only have a few article ideas right now, so I’m trying to spread them out, maybe 1 or 2 a week until I run out.

  3. Colin

    I’m worried on a couple of fronts. You look at Kansas City and Minnesota, teams that have “their guys” in Matt Cassell and Christian Ponder, and you’d think they won’t be taking QB next April.

    Or will they? I’m confident they’ll both be picking ahead of Seattle. If a Barkley is there does one of them take him? How about Indi? The Bronco’s? Will Seattle do what is necessary to secure their guy? I think Pete is going to push hard for Barkley. He has to. His job security after 2012 would be in question if the team is still at 5-7 win range. Seattle isn’t going to get Luck. I’ve been resigned he goes #1 no matter what- like Rob has said- and this team has too much talent to be that bad.

    Where we stand now, the Seattle Seahawks must be selecting Matt Barkley in April of 2012. IF he declares, and I think he will.
    Whatever the cost. He could be the component that really gets this team to take a major step forward.

    • Rob

      I tend to agree Colin regarding Barkley.

  4. Mike Kelly

    What if the Hawks grab one of the good back up QBs in free agency rather than draft one. We will not be in the position to draft either Barkley or Luck, but we might be able to sign Josh Johnson from TB or Matt Flynn from GB. Both of these QBs are young, talented, experienced, and stuck behind franchise players. Would they not be better than the 3rd or 4th rated QB in the draft? They also would be able to start now rather than 4 years from now. Grab one of them and maybe a Calais Campbell in free agency then we can draft a RB or a DT or whatever we may need most. I think that would be the smart play.

    • Rob

      I fear this would be nothing more than a stop gap situation again, Mike. While it probably is more enticing than reaching on the 3rd or 4th ranked QB, I think the Seahawks have a duty to aim high and be aggressive to get one of the top two QB’s and make a real investment in the future. It’s time Seattle had a quarterback for the long haul, someone to build around. If it costs picks – so be it. In fact you could probably be aggressive for a QB and still pick up one of the quarterbacks you’ve named… so that you don’t have to rush the QB into starting. But I have to be honest, I have little confidence in Matt Flynn or Josh Johnson being good enough to hold down a starting job.

    • Colin

      No disrespect Mike, but IMO you are looking for the next Kyle Orton. A guy who can play the position right now, but offers very little upside.

      Look back at the teams who took QB’s in the top 10 the last number of years. Rivers, Manning, Sanchez, Stafford. How are all those teams doing now?

      Go look at teams that have drafted QB’s in later rounds. Brady Quinn (late first I believe??), our own David Greene, Tim Tebow, another 1st rounder. They flopped.

      The weight of the picks will be worth the value we get in return. We have to go Barkley/Luck.

  5. PatrickH

    Great article, Kip! Look forward to your writeup on Landry Jones.

    I think Miami will likely end up picking #1 and getting Andrew Luck. They just lost their QB to season-ending injury, and according to Football Outsiders, they are projected to have one of the toughest schedule for the rest of the season.

    Vikings and Bengals may be tempted to draft Luck if given a chance, but I don’t think they will give up on Ponder and Dalton this quickly for Barkley or Jones. The Redskins will likely draft Barkley if given a chance, but not Jones (he doesn’t fit Shanahan’s scheme).

    Then there are 4 teams that are hard to figure out.
    (1) Browns: Jones – no (doesn’t fit WCO); Barkley – maybe (depends on whether Holmgren will give up on Colt McCoy).
    (2) Colts: Jones – maybe, Barkley – maybe; it depends on whether Manning will be completely healthy next April.
    (3) Jaguars: their coach and GM are in the last year of their contracts; a new regime has no ties to Gabbert and may pick a new QB.
    (4) Chiefs: their coach and GM are on the hot seats; a new regime may pick a new QB; even the current regime may pick a new QB.

    • PatrickH

      The Broncos and the Raiders should be added to the mix as well.

  6. Matt

    Could Robert Griffen push himself into the top 15? He has terrible footwork (did people say the same about Cam Newton?) and I imagine he has other problems to push scouts away. My point is could he be another Cam Newton? Cams doing great for the panthers

    • Rob

      I doubt it, Matt. Personally I never had much issue with Newton and spent a lot of time promoting him on this blog. If you click on archives and search his name, you’ll see how highly I spoke about Newton as not only a much more polished passer than people projected, but also as someone who could go into a team and with elite physical qualities provide a real center piece to build around. My only concern was his personality and we’ll see how he deals with the pressures of being a veteran rather than a rookie proving people wrong.

      Griffin is the opposite of Newton in that he is a faultless character, really hard worker who deals with his environment perfectly. Yet he’s nothing like a polished quarterback and he’s not got the ‘wow’ factor that Newton had. He throws a nice deep ball, but his overall game is based around some very easy throws that require very little technique or above the shoulders exertion. His footwork is woeful – he dances before pretty much every pass. Right now he’s a big time project and honestly I can’t see him starting NFL games, but someone may well over draft him. I doubt that will be this front office though.

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