Jones’ arm is above average, but not best-you’ve-ever-seen good. He very rarely underthrows deep routes. He hits the open receiver in the middle of the field well. He has the arm strength to throw the 15-yard out. He’s improved all throws since being thrust into the starting role in 2009, when Bradford went down with a shoulder injury.
“He’s just more sure of himself, confident in himself,” said Stoops, comparing Jones then and now. “The ball comes out quicker. He’s just bigger and stronger, so the ball has more velocity, too. Those deep seam routes, the out routes, those kinds of things. I think you see all those get out there a little sharper now.”
Note, though, that Jones does not possess Luck’s accuracy. So few do; that’s why Luck is a cinch for the top spot. Jones can make all the throws, but he doesn’t always make all the throws. He lets go no fewer than two passes a game that cause everyone in the stadium to scratch their heads and murmur unpleasantries. If the other team doesn’t catch those errant passes, consider yourself fortunate.
One other thing Jones has going for him, and it’s important to the position, is character. He often draws from his entrenched faith that’s grown during his college years, fueled by a spring 2011 mission trip to Haiti. Jones has the respect of his teammates, on and off the field. He’s not a rah-rah type of leader — he’s rarely, if ever, emotional — but he is not the guy you’ll have to worry about causing locker-room upheaval.
Is he a starting quarterback in the NFL? Probably. Is he a guy to save your franchise? Doubtful. Drafting Jones will additionally require a sturdy line and playmakers to regularly get open and run after the catch. He can help make a team into a championship contender, but not on his own.