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Searching for a Back-Up Quarterback: Draft Edition

Taking the search for a backup to Jameis Winston down to the college ranks with Duke Quarterback Daniel Jones.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs Nation’s Bailey Adams took us down the rabbit hole of potential free agent quarterbacks that the Buccaneers could turn their sights towards to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin. Bailey took us through just about every option available this off-season for Tampa Bay and left off with the possibility that the draft would serve as the best option overall for a backup to Jameis Winston. Let’s take a look at a potential draft option that could make sense for Jason Licht and Bruce Arians.

The first option that comes to mind when thinking on non day one quarterback options would have to be Daniel Jones from Duke. Some may have Jones as a first round talent but on this content creators board, he simply isn’t there. Let’s touch on Jones as a prospect and why he makes sense for Tampa Bay as a back-up and potential Jameis Winston crutch should Jameis struggle this coming season or another off-field mishap happen. Bruce Arians likes to push the ball down field and Daniel Jones had a good amount of success doing just that. Standing 6’5” and weighing 220 lbs, Jones has plenty of size and he has displayed very good touch on deep passes. This touch is something Jameis Winston has struggled with and in turn, the deep ball success has never formulated between Winston and DeSean Jackson. Jones may in fact give a player such as Jackson a better opportunity to hook up deep. That said, Jones lacks the ideal ball velocity for some of the more difficult throws such as deep outs and cross field throws. For those struggling to understand what we’re talking about here you can simply think back to Mike Glennon. Glennon could honestly toss a nice deep ball with some air under it. That said, Glennon struggled as a starter overall due to his inability to fit passes into tight windows and get throws to receivers in time on far side throws. Jones doesn’t seem to struggle as much as Glennon in this aspect, but it’s enough of a struggle to take him out of any first and potentially second round consideration for myself in a league built on timing and big plays. Jones statistically has maintained a solid level of play in each of his three seasons in college. Jones didn’t ever display elite accuracy or ball security in college, shown by his 59.9% completion rate and 29 interceptions.

Coming from Duke, Daniel Jones is a smart guy and those brains translate to the field. Jones shows a good feel inside the pocket and can be seen looking off defenders in games. Against Northwestern, Jones holds the linebacker in place with his eyes and throws a strike over the middle for Duke’s first score of the game. Inside the pocket, Jones has active feet and does a good setting them when delivering the football. The active feet allow for good accuracy and transitioning. One of the areas Jameis tends to get a bit sloppy is his footwork, for Jameis there is enough juice in his arm and will to make things happen that he gets away with more than he should at times. For Jones, who lacks elite velocity, footwork is paramount to his success. Jones got to display his work in front of scouts at the Senior Bowl where he eventually took home the MVP awards. Jones went 8-11 in the game for 115 yards and a touchdown pass to pair with his touchdown run.

Why would Jones fit a Bruce Arians offense? Arians loves to push the ball downfield and Jones has great touch on his deep ball. Jones is a bright young quarterback and when slotted in behind Jameis Winston there is potential for quick growth. Being an incoming rookie, Daniel Jones would be learning the offense with Jameis Winston and the two could bounce off of one another when having questions. Arguably the biggest reason Jones (or another rookie) would make sense is the cost. Rookie contracts are gold, especially at the quarterback position and having multiple years of an inexpensive back-up quarterback would benefit the salary cap greatly.

Why wouldn’t Jones fit a Bruce Arians offense? Pushing the ball downfield aside, Jones may lack the necessary velocity to make many of the other high risk throws in Arians offense. As consistent as Jones was at Duke, ball velocity simply means too much at the NFL level to believe Jones could ever become more than a competent back-up. Who knows, maybe Jameis Winston will turn it up a notch this season and solidify himself as the quarterback for years to come. Should that be the case, the backup quarterback will serve of little purpose other than garbage time duty.

With the cap a bit tight heading into free agency, it’ll be interesting to see how Jason Licht approaches the quarterback position. Looking to the draft for Jameis Winston’s backup is the best option cost wise but that would mean putting a lot of faith into not only Jameis Winston’s play, but his health and overall availability this season as well. Jameis, this season is your season, time to play to the level a number one pick is meant to play at.