Matt Waldman’s RSP Film Room No.145: QB Daniel Jones (Duke)

Matt Waldman’s RSP Film Room shares excerpts from six games of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, a 2019 NFL Draft prospect that is held in high esteem by some quarters of the draftnik community. 

For better or worse, some players’ games are not the sum of their parts. Bill Walsh shared this thought in his quarterback development section of his book, “The Winning Edge.”

I’m finally getting to read this publication that coaches hold in high esteem and I’ve discovered a few things. A lot of the technical, conceptual, and philosophical ideas I’ve shared on this site are things that I’ve recently discovered that Walsh espoused. It’s validation that a focused, criteria-based curriculum of private film study can lead a student to the lessons shared by some of the most knowledgeable practitioners of the game.

A lot of analysts have read this book and they are still espousing the dogma of quarterback evaluation and development that runs counter to Walsh’s views. I have to assume that some of them disagree with Walsh and consciously made this choice. I also have to assume that many didn’t absorb Walsh’s teachings.

Walsh covers a lot of material in great detail. It’s understandable that most who’ve read the book didn’t reread it or break it down the way they might chart a game, learn chemistry, or analyze a piece of literature. However, unless you’ve been approaching the game like a student in a focused, structured and disciplined learning environment, you’ll only have surface-level knowledge of most of the material.

I realized a long time ago that whether it’s school, a book, or private lessons, most of us only “learn about” things when it comes to these resources. If we want to truly “know” these subjects, it takes sustained work. I’m not studying Bill Walsh’s book like this — not yet — but I’ve been intently studying certain aspects of quarterbacking in a structured way for 15 years so much of the material is easier to absorb than it would otherwise.

Reading Walsh’s lessons on quarterback development and my thoughts about those who’ve learned about the topic versus those who truly know it has me wondering if Daniel Jones is a 2019 litmus test for evaluators and personnel people who “know about” versus “know” quarterbacking. There’s a contingent of people who regard Jones as an NFL starter talent.

While this is a vague statement — it could mean he has starter potential or he’s good enough to start right now — the praise for Jones is the product of the quarterback’s praiseworthy skills. Jones has several technically-sound qualities in addition to being a big, strong, tough passer.

I am especially impressed with Jones’ willingness to take punishment in order to deliver as accurate of a target as possible. His pocket movement away from pressure is also among the best in this class. Combine these traits with his arm strength, versatile play-action game, and drop-footwork, and it’s no wonder that many would see Jones the prospect as the sum of his parts.

However, I’m concerned that Jones’ game is not as good as the sum of its parts. In addition to the positives that I just mentioned seeing in Jones’ game — especially with the six games used for this RSP Film Room episode — I also repeatedly observed qualities that were lacking.

Jones is missing refined accuracy at all four levels of the field that I chart. He also has a difficulty accounting for ancillary defenders in the area of his target. I think the awareness of coverage is an improvable skill, but I’m concerned Jones’ accuracy will not.

What makes Jones a difficult evaluation is that he displays enough refined accuracy that there’s an argument he will improve — especially if he lands with a team that has much better pass protection and superior pass catchers than Jones had at Duke.  The counterpoint is that Jones also displayed these bouts of unrefined accuracy from clean pockets.

See for yourself…

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.

Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each. You can pre-order the 2019 RSP now (available for download April 1). 


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