NFL head coach turned ESPN commentator Jon Gruden has carved out a niche for himself in the draft analysis business by taking a lot of time with a few select players to study them on film and get to know them personally, then produce 30-minute TV specials showing their one-on-one conversations. One of the more interesting conversations Gruden had came with former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, who in Gruden’s opinion has the talent necessary to make it in the NFL — but who regressed over the course of his college career.
Gruden writes at ESPN.com that Jones actually looked like a better pro prospect during his freshman and sophomore seasons than he did during his junior and senior seasons, and Gruden says he sees a player who lost some of his fire for playing the quarterback position.
“Jones was around so long and had seen so much as a college player that I think he got complacent,” Gruden writes. “I see a player who got bored. He has the raw skills to do so much that I think it actually affected him negatively over the last couple of seasons, when he didn’t reach the statistical heights of his incredible sophomore season.”
In Gruden’s opinion, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and his staff didn’t do a good enough job of running an offense that played to Jones’s strengths.
“I didn’t really like a lot of the plays he had to run at Oklahoma,” Gruden writes. “Last season, the Sooners consistently didn’t have any tight ends as options in the passing game, and didn’t do enough to give Jones the option to have easy outlets, which eliminated the opportunity to dump the ball off to tight ends or running backs. If I’m going to criticize anybody for that, I’m going to criticize Oklahoma. The Sooners often went with four-wideout formations, and I thought it stymied their QB. They lost balance and their play-action passing game. That put a lot on Jones, and it probably created a situation where he had to throw the ball too often.”
Early in his college career Jones was widely regarded as a future first-round pick, but he’s now viewed as more of a mid-round pick. Perhaps some NFL team can put him in the right system to prevent him from getting complacent and bored.