Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has been a hot name amongst NFL draft analysts for some time. In September of last year, Mel Kiper called Jones his No. 2 quarterback amongst 2012 draft eligible prospects. Fast forward to this year, and as late as September 5, Chris Steuber ranked the now senior Sooner signal-caller his 19th overall 2013 draft prospect.
Because expectations were so high for Jones a year ago, I started breaking down his film very early. By the time he announced his decision to stay at Oklahoma for his senior season in January, I had already charted eight games of his.
I came away less impressed than some analysts, and while I believe he made a smart decision by staying in school, I feel he thus far he has not improved upon a disappointing 2011 campaign, and question whether he truly has next-level skills.
Jones has prototypical height for the quarterback position as well as the bulk needed to absorb punishment at the NFL level. When he has a clean pocket he flashes the ability to deliver the ball with zip and accuracy on underneath and intermediate throws, and also possesses a quick, compact release.
While Jones passes the initial eyeball test, he has several flaws in his game that will only be further exposed once in an NFL training camp. First off, he appears to be an average athlete that struggles to slide and adjust to pressure within the pocket and is not a threat running in space.
Speaking of his feet, his footwork is a major issue now and will only cause him further trouble next summer when he is asked to take snaps from under center for the first time. He plays with his feet too far apart, which not only limits his mobility in and out of the pocket but also causes him to struggle staying square to his targets.
When he throws with a wide base his accuracy suffers, as he is unable to transfer his weight properly from his back foot and maintain consistent mechanics. This also prevents him from getting proper hip rotation and snap on his throws, limiting his velocity.
When I chart his accuracy (which is different than completion percentage) he was solid on underneath throws but struggled elsewhere. Most worrisome were his numbers in the 5-14 yard range, as he was just 74-122 with 11 scores and four interceptions, and a whopping 17 passes defended. Essentially, defenders got their hands on nearly twice as many balls in this range as he threw touchdowns.
His wildly inconsistent accuracy is not just a result of poor footwork and velocity, but also a frequent consequence of poor decision making. In Oklahoma’s spread offense the quarterback’s reads are generally predetermined, thus Jones is used to making one pre-snap decision and throwing to his primary target.
When his first option is covered, he consistently struggles to get through his progressions efficiently and instead locks on to his initial mark. He also struggles when faced with pressure, as he tends to bail out early and force throws into traffic.
Jones has been an effective rhythm passer in a very generic college spread offense, but his technical and mental struggles mean he has a very long road ahead of him.
Considering his unimpressive body of work at Oklahoma, he clearly does not belong in first-round discussions. Based on my film studies, I do not feel he has the upside in his game to warrant spending a draft pick on him at all, and view Jones as a free-agent prospect.