I’ve had Landry Jones in the first round of both of my 2012 mock drafts, and I’ll have him there in subsequent ones leading up to April 2012. I think he could be the 2nd QB taken in the draft, but that depends on if Matt Barkley comes out.
But remember in August when draft pundit Tony Pauline gave Jones a 4th round grade? As Pauline put it, Jones, “lacks great physical skills and a pocket passer that does not possess classic size or arm strength.”
It seemed bizarre at the time, but less than three months later, Pauline has come around and given Jones a 1st round grade. What’s changed? In Pauline’s report, nothing, really.
Has Jones been significantly better this year? Not really when it comes to statistics. With five games left (including the bowl game): Sacks are down (19 to 2), completion percentage is virtually the same (66 this year, 65 last year) and his YPA is up (8.7 to 7.6). His QB rating is up, too (158 vs. 146 last year). His interceptions are up, though (9 this year, 12 last year).
Makes you wonder why Pauline saw to change his grade on Jones, huh?
Jones is working with a solid running game and two future pro receivers. I’d be curious what his percentage of snaps under center are this year vs. in the shotgun (5:95?). As with most offensive skill players, in the right NFL system, Jones could flourish. Trying to make him a QB in a pro-style offense might take a few years. I asked Aaron Schatz over at the Football Outsiders for statistics on NFL teams that operated most/least out of the shotgun. Detroit was first (69% of the time), followed by Carolina (54%), St. Louis (53%), Buffalo (53%), and New England (52%). Unfortunately, none of those teams will be drafting a QB.
I feel the best fit right now – based on who operates out of the shotgun most and needs a QB – for Landry would have to be Seattle (45%). I’m eliminating Miami (45%)/Indianapolis (51%) right now because they’ll fight over Andrew Luck. Teams like Washington (34%) and Cleveland (33%) don’t yet have the personnel to put around Jones (and both seem to favor the run; though that could change if Peyton Hillis leaves the Browns), but I right now, I think they’d consider making a move on him in the first round. The intriguing Seattle situation is whether or not Matt Barkley comes out and gets drafted by the coach who recruited him to USC, Pete Carroll.