Former Duke Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones had a productive collegiate career, but it was the 2018 season which put him high on the NFL Draft radar of most. Jones, who’s played three seasons with the Blue Devils, had the best year of his career this season while leading the team to an 8-5 record.
Jones became Duke’s starter in 2016 after Thomas Sirk suffered a season-ending injury. He proceeded to throw for 2,836 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a redshirt freshman while tacking on seven rushing scores. The 6-foot-5, 220 lb quarterback entered the Senior Bowl as one of the key names to watch, as he’s projected to be a first-round selection by most analysts.
Following a 2018 season in which Jones totaled 25 combined touchdowns, including six in the team’s bowl game, Walter Football pegged him as the No. 2 overall quarterback. They also provided a first-round projection for him, so we’re going to take a look at a few of the top potential landing spots.
*Note: All information on 2019 NFL Draft order is courtesy of Tankathon.
New England Patriots
The biggest issue with the Patriots potentially landing Jones is the fact that they’re holding one of the lowest picks in the first round. New England’s impressive Super Bowl run may leave them potentially in need of a trade up if they decide the Duke quarterback is their signal-caller of the future.
Regardless, the Patriots would be wise to address their upcoming need at quarterback, as Tom Brady will be 42 years old next season and is heading into the final year of his deal. If there’s a realistic chance that Brady retires or the team opts to make the move to their future quarterback, they’ll need to put a plan in place now to make that happen.
Blake Bortles is out and the Jaguars are now in the market for a starting quarterback. If Jacksonville views Jones as an immediate starter in the NFL, then this is a spot to monitor. There’s a decent chance the team could look at Missouri standout Drew Lock if he’s available at No. 7. But if not, either taking Jones or trading back and selecting him a few picks later makes sense.
The Jaguars seem to have sorted things out with star running back Leonard Fournette, which would allow Jones (or any quarterback) to step into a decent situation. This fit makes sense, but it’s tough to gauge how the quarterback situation will unfold on draft night.
New York Giants
On paper, Eli Manning’s 2018 stat line doesn’t look bad. He wrapped up the year with 4,299 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes. None of this changes the fact that the 38-year-old quarterback led the Giants to a 5-11 record. While the end result of last season can’t fall completely on Manning, there’s no denying the Giants need to find their signal-caller of the future.
Whether Jones is the answer and more specifically, if the Giants want to use the No. 6 overall pick on a quarterback, will be the big questions. If the former Duke quarterback’s stock winds up placing him in the mid-to-late first round, the team could trade back and select him a few picks later while adding other assets. One possible problem with that, though, could be the next team on this list and one of their biggest rivals.
The future of Alex Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury, remains up in the air at this point. It’s anyone’s guess if and when he’ll return to the field, so the Redskins could opt to add a quarterback due to this uncertainty. If so, the No. 15 pick sounds like a fine spot to select Jones, but there’s a chance he may not last that long.
I can’t envision Washington trading up in the first round to select a quarterback, especially if they believe Smith will be able to return. There should be more clarification as the draft gets closer, but if not, the Redskins could opt to select the top quarterback available when they are on the clock.