Gil Brandt has evaluated countless thousands of NFL Draft prospects through the years.
So what the respected NFL analyst said this week about Daniel Jones shouldn’t be taken as an empty compliment for the former Duke quarterback ahead of the NFL Draft.
“I. Love. Dan Jones,” Brandt said during a Sirius XM NFL Radio teleconference (via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media). “I have to say this carefully: When you watch him and you go back (20) years and watch Peyton Manning, you are watching the same guy.
“He’s athletic. He doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but neither did Peyton. Very smart.”
The Manning comparison is apropos, given Jones has spent time working out with Peyton and Eli Manning. And Duke coach David Cutcliffe mentored both Mannings, serving as offensive coordinator during Peyton’s time at Tennessee and then head coach during Eli’s tenure at Ole Miss.
Has Cutcliffe’s guidance molded Jones into a Manning-like signal-caller?
“Daniel has a real advantage because he has been coached by Coach Cutcliffe,” Peyton Manning said earlier this year (via Sports Illustrated).
Jones is generally regarded as one of the top three or four quarterback prospects in the 2019 draft, a step below Heisman winner Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and in the mix with Missouri’s Drew Lock for being the third quarterback selected. He’s expected to go in the first round, but there’s some speculation he could even go in the top 10, with the Giants mentioned as a possibility at No. 6.
Jones, 21, has prototypical QB size (6-5, 221 pounds), and is lauded for his accuracy, although, as Brandt noted, he doesn’t have great arm strength. He had a solid final season at Duke, passing for 2,674 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 60.5 percent completion percentage.
Brandt, who is best known for his role as VP of player personnel in building those great Cowboys teams of the 1960s through the 1980s, said Jones’ numbers at Duke were hampered by the program’s lack of elite receivers.
“He had an opportunity to have a full scholarship to Princeton,” Brandt said. “He said, ‘No, I’m better (at football) than that. I want to walk on at Duke.’ He completed 60 percent of his passes but they didn’t have any great receivers there to catch the ball.
“He had an unbelievable workout a month or so ago. A lot of people have turned to like him.”