Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
I went back to watch most of the throws and runs Jones made this season, and I'm going to make a case for why he should be our target at 15. This isn't to say that other QBs aren't above him; I just don't think they'll be available (sorry Bacon! I know you like Lance, but I see him gone top ten). Jones is the only realistic QB prospect, as far as I can tell right now, who would both be available, and be worth the investment as a long term starter. I like him a whole lot better than Mills, Newman, Mond, etc, although those guys are intriguing late round shots as developmental types. The only one in our range who gives me pause is Trask, and I'm not 100% sold on him.
First, Jones is tough. He'll follow through a throw even when he gets rocked by a blitzer. He's in command. He's got a great reputation as a leader, and it shows on the field. He controls the offense, makes pre-snap adjustments, and stays cool under pressure. He's really consistent from snap to snap. Bad plays don't seem to snowball out of control and lead to more bad plays. He shakes them off and starts over on each snap. He doesn't get tricked a ton, although he's not foolproof. He's still young and has learning opportunities, but overall I really like his demeanor.
Let's get to the downsides. He's not the most athletic player I've watched. He could clean up some baby fat, improve his foot quickness/agility/balance, and work on his core and shoulder strength to generate more torque. He sometimes doesn't see lurkers -- if there's a defender on the far side of the field floating free and drifting into passing lanes, he can be fooled. His inexperience shows up at times, but could probably improve with more reps. That said, he's definitely above my threshold in each area, even if he doesn't excel physically. He's not a perfect prospect, but that doesn't mean that he's not capable of developing into a franchise leader.
I mentioned runs earlier. Believe it or not, Jones occasionally ran for first downs, or escaped pressure out of the pocket. It's not his forte, but he's at least as mobile as Brady, and looks a little faster. He's obviously not as polished maneuvering the pocket and resetting his feet -- I think Bacon alluded to his troubles with mechanics when he's off platform / out of pocket -- but for a primarily pocket passer in college with only a handful of starts, he's pretty good. Compared with Newton, we'd trade some rushing yards and touchdowns for a player who does a better job identifying pressure and throwing to his hot route (not consistently, but enough to give me hope that it's a solid part of his game), as well as stepping up in the pocket and evading pressure. He can slide around and make a throw. When he resets and pays attention to his mechanics, the results are quite good. It's still a growth area, but he processes quickly enough to minimize the drawback of his lack of mobility.
What about depth of targets? His completion percentage and yards are inflated by short passes turned into big gains by all star skill players. Yup, that's true. But . . . so what? His anticipation and ball placement were stellar on those throws. That's what stood out to me over and over again: quick distribution of the ball, excellent touch, and consistently giving the receiver a chance to run after the catch. Jones might only make a few downfield drive shots a game, and while he won't be confused with Allen or Mahomes, he has more than enough power for a 50+ yard throw. He generally tends to put the ball where only his player has a shot, too. Even 50/50 balls look more like 80/20 chances due to excellent ball placement. No complaints from me at all. Play designs took advantage of horizontal opportunities, and he executed them almost flawlessly. I can't knock the guy on that.
He makes good use of his eyes and shoulder fakes to freeze safeties. I saw a few deep touchdowns where he threw to a wide-open guy because of his fakes getting the defenders to bite. He didn't just lob up a pass to an open receiver who made an easy play for him; he created the opportunity, and each player mutually benefitted. Of course Smith and Waddle (and Metchie and Billingsley) were fantastic, but he also enabled them to shine by repeatedly manipulating the defense and delivering excellent passes. He's comfortable turning his back to the field for play-action, faking screens, etc, and still turning around and quickly and accurately acquiring his target.
He's got a great sense of passing windows against zone. He doesn't lead his players into huge collisions, at least not on a regular basis. He'll slightly underthrow a ball if it means that his receiver can stop, make a catch, and protect himself. True, he doesn't always challenge tight coverage, but I've seen him thread the needle more than a few times. He can do it, but he seems to prefer the more conservative play if it means less chance of a turnover. Again, I can't take points away for that. When he needs to be aggressive, I see some daggers come out. He's got a competitive edge. He does trust his arm, he just seems to prefer to take the more reliable play over the greedy play most of the time.
Don't take my word for it. Check out his snaps for yourself. This is a long video, and it's not all-22, but you'll get a better sense of the player by watching this than you will from a few twitter clips of highlights.
I really liked the idea of trading up for Fields, but I've been on the Jones train for a few months now.