Daniel Jones seems unlikely to be the best quarterback in the 2019 rookie class. He also seems unlikely to be a bust.
Given the Redskins' history at the quarterback position, both recent and ancient, Jones’ lack of sexy upside might be his most attractive quality.
Polarizing might not accurately portray this class of QBs. Divisive might be the better word.
Kyler Murray ranks as the top prospect, and seems likely to be drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Still, some teams don’t believe he has the size or commitment to make it as an NFL signal caller.
After Murray there’s even less consensus.
Dwayne Haskins has a big arm and great size, but only started one year in college and didn’t show much ability to read defenses in the Ohio State offense. Drew Lock makes some 'Wow!' plays, but then he also makes terrible plays. His most consistent traits are arm talent and inconsistency.
In some order, Murray, Haskins and Lock probably mark the top three rated passers in the 2019 draft.
Then comes Jones.
The Duke quarterback does nothing that screams first-round pick. His combine numbers were good and his game film seems good. At the same time, there aren’t any real knocks against him either, other than Jones doesn’t have the super star potential the other three have shown.
Jones isn’t a sexy pick. He’s not even a PG13 make-out scene pick.
And that might be just what the Redskins want.
For months, the Washington front office has repeatedly talked about being “close.” Close to what remains a question, but it must at least mean competing for the NFC East title and winning a playoff game.
Well, of all the rookie passers, Jones might be the one that presents the least risk. He might not make jaw dropping deep throws or electric moves outside of the pocket, but he probably won’t throw 20-plus interceptions either.
Last year, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith to run their offense. Smith’s best traits are controlling the football and making the smart, not sexy, play.
You know what rookie could fit that mold?
Certainly isn’t Murray. Probably isn’t Lock. And Haskins likely needs to sit a year to learn NFL offenses.
Jones, however, has been playing in a pro system for years at Duke. He’s been coached by the Manning-Whisperer in David Cutcliffe.
Veteran NFL personnel executives believe in Jones in a major way. Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame former Cowboys GM, compared Jones to Peyton Manning. Seriously.
"When you watch him and you go back (20) years and watch Peyton Manning, you are watching the same guy. He's athletic," Brandt said on an SiriusXM pre-draft conference call. "He doesn't have a rocket for an arm, but neither did Peyton. Very smart."
ESPN's Mel Kiper believes Jones will be the best QB in this draft. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly thinks Jones is the most ready for the NFL of any 2019 passer.
Add all of that up, and the Redskins taking Jones with the 15th overall pick starts to make sense. Then go back and listen to some Jay Gruden quotes, and it makes even more sense.
Speaking at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden explained that he likes winning low-scoring, grinding football games.
"You try to protect the football and let the strength of your football team carry you through the tough times and hopefully your team or offense or special teams or offense will come through and make a play at a critical time," Gruden said. " It was a great recipe for us early. I like playing that way."
Of the rookie quarterbacks the Redskins might be able to get, Jones could be best suited for that style, especially in 2019. Not every analyst believes in Jones, including NBC Sports' Chris Simms. He doesn't even rate Jones in the top four QBs available this fall.
Regardless of the analysts, the Redskins believe they’re close, and need a quarterback that won’t lose them games. Of the rookie collection, Jones best fits that role.
Just by his risk taking nature, Lock will probably lose some games as a rookie. Maybe throughout his career. Haskins can play but the speed of the NFL will require a major adjustment for his game. Murray is dynamic, but his skill set requires a complete offensive overhaul for whatever team takes him.
Add any of those three QBs to the Redskins and it’s hard to imagine the team competing for the playoffs in 2019. In the penultimate year of his contract, Gruden needs to compete for the playoffs in 2019.
Last season, ugly or not, the Redskins legitimately looked on their way to a playoff spot. In Week 10, the team was 6-3. Injuries derailed those plans, but the roadmap was established.
Even at 6-3, the Redskins hardly played aesthetically pleasing football. It sure as hell wasn't sexy.
If the Redskins want to recreate that formula, and build on it for the future, Jones might be the best pick.
In football, in sports, even in life, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid a major mistake and play it safe.
The Redskins tried to that last year with Smith, but a broken leg disrupted the plan.
It's entirely possible the Redskins don't take a quarterback in the first round, but if they do, Jones offers the best chance for a mulligan.
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