Which Quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft Class Is Statistically Superior?
6. Daniel Jones, Duke
Age: 21 | Games Played: 36 | AY/A: 6.9 | Passing Efficiency Rating: 131.7 | Total QBR: 72.0
Top Statistical Comp: Kyle Boller
Unlike Finely, Jones is getting first-round hype, coming off the board at 29th overall in Mel Kiper Jr.'s mid-January mock draft. But outside of experience, it's hard to dissect why Jones is getting that type of buzz.
We'll start on the plus side for Jones by discussing his experience. As mentioned earlier, he and Lock are the two guys in this draft who have the perfect intersection of age and experience. Jones was a starter from his redshirt freshman season on, which gives him a big boost here, especially with his final year being his age-21 season.
It's just hard to care about that too much with how darn inefficient he was.
Jones' final-year AY/A of 6.9 was a full point lower than anybody else in our group of seven. It was also the best mark he had in any of his three years at Duke.
There have been first-round picks in the past with disappointing final-year AY/As. Jones' 6.9 would be tied for only eighth-worst if he were to wind up going in the first round in April. There just aren't many guys in that tier who wound up being successes.
There have been 11 first-round picks since 2000 (excluding Josh Allen because we've got just one year of data) who had an AY/A lower than 7.5 in their final year of college. Of those 11, only 4 have managed a top-15 finish in Total NEP. That counts Ryan Tannehill, who has done so exactly once in six qualified seasons.
The other three are Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, and Michael Vick. In terms of Total NEP, Vick did a lot of his work with his rushing, and Cutler was in the top 15 just twice in 10 qualified seasons. Then you've also got guys like Rex Grossman, Patrick Ramsey, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder, all of whom had at least three qualified seasons and were never top-15 passers.
If you want to build a case behind Jones being a potential success, you had better pin your hopes to the Duke product being the next Ryan.
Ryan has been a major success among first-round picks, netting four top-five finishes in Total NEP. The only other first-round picks with more than that since 2000 are Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. Ryan is also tied for second in most top-10s, trailing only Ben Roethlisberger. It was a major boon of a pick for the Atlanta Falcons.
Like Jones, Ryan entered the draft with a good amount of experience, having logged at least 10 pass attempts in 35 games at Boston College. He had never been an overly efficient passer in his time at BC, topping out with a 7.4 AY/A as a sophomore on just 195 attempts. So there are certainly some similarities.
The problem with indulging this line of thinking is that you're banking on Jones being an outlier if you take him as a first-round pick. Yes, Ryan is a success story, but he's essentially the only one among those as inefficient as Jones coming out of college. That makes Jones even riskier than some of the quarterbacks discussed earlier, and the downsides associated with that risk shoot through the roof if he's taken in the first round.