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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Daniel Jones, Quarterback, Duke

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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Daniel Jones, Quarterback, Duke

Daniel Jones - Duke


Position: QB

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 221 lbs.

Year: RS-Junior

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Experience: Three-Year Starter




40yd dash: 4.81s

Broad jump: 120 in.

Vertical: 33.5 in.

3-cone: 7.0s

20yd. Shuttle: 4.41

Bench Press: DNP


Career Notes:


Daniel Jones almost never made it to Duke. In the Spring of 2014, then a high school junior, Daniel Jones almost lost his chance to play ACC football on a high school basketball court. After breaking his wrist, the only school to offer him a scholarship was Princeton. But Daniel Jones walked on at Duke in 2015, redshirted as a freshman, ended up on scholarship and became Duke’s starting quarterback in 2016.


As a redshirt freshman, Jones led a Duke team that struggled to find wins, going 4-8 in his first year as a starter. He produced an alright completion percentage (62.8%) and a lean yards-per-attempt average (6.59). It was clear that he had a large learning curve to meet the demands of ACC football. He had highs like throwing for three touchdowns against a solid Miami defense, but he also had tough lows like throwing five picks against Virginia.


In his sophomore year, the mild-mannered Jones had an adverse season compared to his freshman year, but the Blue Devils made away with a 6-6 regular season record. His completion percentage in 2017 dropped to 56.7%, his yards-per-attempt decreased to 5.94, and he threw for fewer touchdowns and more interceptions than in his first year’s campaign. He finished his year with a two-touchdown, 250-yard performance in a bowl game against Northern Illinois to help push Duke’s total record over .500 to 7-6.


As a junior, he came out of the gates with two 70%+ performances, no interceptions and four touchdowns. In the third quarter of a strong game second game of the season he fractured his clavicle against Northwestern. His fracture happened on September 8th and he was back in action against Virginia Tech on September 29th. While Jones didn’t have a cannon before the injury, there was a notable drop in the velocity of his passes when he came back.


He clearly labored to put zip on the ball, but never had more than a couple weeks during the regular season to sit back and fully recover. Given a month to heal, he lit up a Temple team who didn’t seem to have many answers for his skill set. Jones ended his final season 6-5 as a starter.


Injury Report:


Jones had a clean bill of health in college before breaking his clavicle in 2018. He returned to the field in just three weeks after the injury and seemed fully healed by the end of the season.


Career Stats: 8,201 yards, 59.9% completion, 52 touchdowns, 29 interceptions




Arm Strength 3.1/5.0: Jones’s arm had clear limitations. His weakness was not so much in how far he could throw the ball but how fast he could get it to his receivers. When his read, rhythm, and the play in front of him were in sync, he could step into throws and put head on them. However, those plays are often few-and-far-between. It seemed that the longer he held onto the ball, the lower the velocity on his passes would be. There are exceptions to this tendency, like a 3rd and 8 against Temple when he rifled a throw to a secondary receiving option over a cornerback to a spot where only his receiver could leap for it. Such plays are the exception, but they indicated the potential to tap into arm strength that may not be visible on every single play.


Accuracy 3.7/5.0: Jones’s accuracy often went the way of his arm strength: the more scripted the play, the more accurate he was. He showed a practiced accuracy coming out of run-pass option slants and out routes. Inside of ten yards, he was money when the ball wasn’t batted down at the line of scrimmage. Beyond ten yards, his accuracy took a noticeable drop, especially closer to the sidelines. He could hit receivers out on the perimeter when it was in the natural flow of a longer-developing play, but these plays didn’t often play out as scripted because of any number of factors (an over-matched offensive line, a disguised blitz that didn’t get picked up, a rotating defender cutting off schemed windows, etc.). It is worth noting that while Jones’s receiving core was good for chunks of yards after the catch, they were also liable to drop few on-target passes a game. The least consistent part of Jones’s accuracy was his anticipation of when receivers would come open. The offense’s reliance on quick reads didn’t leave a lot of room for Jones to develop a great feel for when receivers would come open and where to place the ball consistently.


Athleticism 3.5/5.0: Jones and the coaching staff worked hand-in-hand to get him yards on the ground and to maximize his ability as a runner. He showed functional speed and nimble feet to navigate the open field in the read option. He could often elude pass rushers bearing down on him. Just because a pass rusher got both hands on him wouldn’t mean Jones would just go down. He frequently used a combination of flexibility and power to get out of would-be sacks and extend plays. His strength to fight through tackles for extra yards was impressive, even if his willingness to take on tacklers was often concerning. Jones even took on some awkward blocks and could be relied on to open up the field on a jet sweep.


Leadership 4.75/5.0: From what coaches have said, Jones’s leadership style is reserved. He leads by example and works hard. His leadership by example manifested itself on the field on run plays when he’d keep the ball and put his shoulder into a linebacker to steal a first down. He also blocked for his teammates when he found himself in front of run plays. In high school, his teammates nicknamed the three-star prospect “Swag,” because no matter the situation he was always calm. That calmness showed up in the pass game where he’d stand and deliver passes whether he had a clean pocket or whether he had Clelin Ferrell about to knock his block off. While he wasn’t the “rah rah” stereotypical extroverted leader, his calming presence can add value to a team all the same.


Summary: Jones was built into the Duke offense as its focal point. The use of read-option run plays made the most of his ability to make plays in the open field with his feet. If teams didn’t adjust and respond, Duke would punish them with long run-heavy drives. If teams adjusted and brought heavier personnel on the field, the playbook opened up and Jones could dice up defenses with short passes. The play calls and designs were largely built around his short-field accuracy and ability to make pre-snap reads. Quite a few defenses got out ahead of the offense as games wore on and Jones became more limited as he would have to extend plays and improvise. Even when defenses picked up what Duke was putting down, Jones was cool and didn’t often hesitate to trust his teammates to make tough plays.


The biggest criticism of Jones is probably that he didn’t rise very far above the challenges he was faced with. His help at skill positions wasn’t packed with world-beaters, but he didn’t always get the most out of his guys. The coaching staff was slow to adjust playcalling and personnel to outmatch defenses, but Jones would still leave plays on the field that would exacerbate the problem. His offensive line had difficulty against great pass-rushers, but he took unnecessary sacks. He had moments where he could lift his team beyond their present circumstances — a 15 yard run on third and long, an accurate bomb down the sidelines against perfect coverage, a violent run with a yard to gain for a first down or touchdown — but more often than not he was limited to his circumstances.


Overall Grade 3.76/5.0


If drafted by the Packers:


The draft stock on Daniel Jones is not nearly as high as many anticipated before the 2018 season. Once touted as a possible top-ten pick by Mel Kiper Jr., Jones slipped more into the second round range after a week of practices at the Senior Bowl. If Green Bay goes and gets him, it would likely be in the second round. Jones is about as different from Rodgers as one could imagine, but he would be complementary to the run-heavy offense Matt LaFleur wants to install. As a backup option, he would likely end up sitting and learning behind Rodgers and Kizer as a third-stringer. At 22 years old going into the 2019 season, he has a few years to learn behind the pair of quarterbacks.


Jones is needs time to develop. He would bring a quiet presence to a locker room that has grown accustomed to such personalities over the years. The thing that helped Jones at Duke may have also been the thing that slowed his development (or at least limited opportunities to see his development): an offense built around what everyone knew he could do. This is the risk in drafting Jones, but also the exciting prospect of drafting him. It’s unclear what he’s capable of at the height of his powers in a dynamic offense, but he at least showed the capability to impress with his arm and his legs. If the Packers take Jones in the second round, we’ll have a competition for second-string between him and Kizer.






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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

sonomaca's picture

I don’t understand how a less-than-stellar arm can handle 10/16 games in GB and Chicago each year, and playoff games in GB in January.

I don’t think Goff could handle the North. I don’t think Jones could either.

Since '61's picture

Bart Starr did pretty well and didn't have one of the strongest arms in NFL history when compared with arms like Unitas, Namath, Jurgensen, Bradshaw, Elway, Favre, Rodgers, etc.. Thanks, Since '61

sonomaca's picture

Very different time. Not the passing league we have now. Not the same caliber of defenders we have now. How is Daniel Jones going to zip the ball into a tight window with a cold wind in his face. He’ll severely limit what Pack can do on offense.

There’s a reason the Eagles wanted Wentz and the Rams preferred Goff, and not the other way around.

Since '61's picture

Agree completely that this is a very different time. But if we become more of a run oriented team with MLF maybe a QB like Jones would fit, similar to how Starr fit on Lombardi's Packers.

As for the caliber of defenders, I'll still take Lombardi's defense (6 NFL HoFers) equalize for size and speed over any defenders that play today. Defenders in general back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and even the 90s actually knew how to tackle compared with current defenders. As Dave Robinson said when asked to compare his era of defense with the current era of defense, "We didn't play no mamba-pamby football." Classic comment about the state of today's NFL defenses. Today the defense doesn't get off the field until the opponent scores. Look no further than our own Packers for proof.

I'm not saying that we should draft Jones. I have never seen him play. In fact I haven't seen four quarters of college football since the 1988 Army/Navy game. So I'm really in no position to comment on who should be drafted. At the same time I'm in no position to exclude anyone.

Point is the NFL and pro sports in general are filled with examples of players who allegedly wouldn't "make it." Included in that list are Starr, Unitas (released by the Steelers), Brady (6th round pick, who knew!!!).

The reality is none of us know who is going to step up when the time comes. It's like the Army, the guys you least expect become the best to go back to back with when the shXt hits the fan. Thanks, Since '61

jannes bjornson's picture

Bart would thrive in a short passing game. He was very accurate. He would win with Belichick.

sonomaca's picture

Belichick, Lombardi, and Walsh are the three best to ever coach. I’m sure they could all make a winner out of Daniel Jones, Bart Starr, or Billy Joe Tolliver.

dobber's picture

"But if we become more of a run oriented team with MLF maybe a QB like Jones would fit,"

My suspicion is that with #12 under center, this will never truly be a run-oriented team.

Old School's picture

The quarterback position is about leadership. I'd rather have a good leader with an average arm than an average leader with a cannon.

sonomaca's picture

If I were the Giants I wouldn’t pick Jones at #17. I’d try to acquire the 2020 1st round picks of the Cards, Redskins, Raiders, or other bad teams. Try and land Tua.

sonomaca's picture

I understand it’s win now for the Pack, but I’d gladly deal # 12 to the Cards for their 2020 1st rounder. Looking at the Cards schedule, I’d be surprised if they won even 4 games.

4thand10's picture

He reminds me of a potential Nick Foles...and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

dobber's picture

I see a more athletic AJ McCarron. Jones was asked to do more than McCarron was and comes out of a QB-friendlier system on a team that had to throw more, but I see Jones as a game manager with good athleticism who struggles with pressure.

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