Even with a practice session rained out for the media on Wednesday, the buzz in Mobile for the quarterbacks here for the Senior Bowl remains palpable. And if the performances through two days of practices -- combined with game film -- is any indication, what everyone is feeling is either happiness their team doesn’t need a quarterback or anxious resignation that they will be forced to try and love one of the eight QBs here.
The perception that this is an underwhelming quarterback class has only been reinforced. If anything, it might be even worse than skeptics like me believed.
Take Duke’s Daniel Jones as an example. Jones is trumpeted by many as a worthy top 20 overall prospect, and if you want your mock draft to have any semblance of accuracy you’d better have him in the top 40 picks.
There are definite positives with Jones. He has a quick release, delivers a consistently accurate ball from a clean pocket and he has enough mobility and footwork savvy to keep defenses honest. He’s coached by David Cutcliffe, the man behind developing the Manning brothers in their college years. Jon Gruden proclaimed him a first-round talent earlier this week.
Alas, there are flaws. He doesn’t react well to pressure or progress past his first read consistently. He doesn’t unleash the fastball as well as other QBs, something that stood out in practices here. It’s not that he doesn’t have a good arm; I’ve seen Jones play in person and he does have the ability to put extra zip on the ball. As we saw in Tuesday’s practice in person and on the video feed from the covered (but not enclosed) South Alabama practice facility, he just doesn’t always hit it.
Despite that, Jones is probably the best QB for the NFL in 2019 here. Many others will argue that title belongs to Missouri’s Drew Lock, but other than throwing a gorgeous deep ball and spinning a tight spiral from multiple platforms, I am not a believer in Lock.
Yet the teams who need QBs certainly appear to be. During a hastily assembled media session on Wednesday, Lock entered the interview area. I walked over, voice recorder in hand. Before I could make the 20 or so steps, the entire contingency of the New York Giants media hanging around flocked to him like hyenas stealing a kill from a cheetah. After about 5 minutes where they asked every single question, and just about all of them New York-related, I moved on. Others did too.
In Tuesday’s more formal media session, the Jaguars group here displayed a similar obsession with Jones. Washington’s media, which are (if it’s even possible) more worried about Alex Smith’s fate in private than they are publicly, have monopolized other prospects here, including Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson.
Jackson is an interesting figure. The NFL teams seem more intrigued by him than the draft media folks I’ve hung out with and watched practices alongside. I asked a personnel exec form a team looking for a developmental QB and the only prospect here he even considered was the 6-7, rifle-armed Jackson.
It’s still too early to know how the QB derby shakes out, but know this: if the team you root for needs a quarterback and isn’t landing Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins -- the top QB in this class with every single person willing to offer an opinion here -- be prepared to rinse and repeat again in a year or two.