NORMAN – Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones will tell us this week he isn't thinking about the NFL Draft and won't until after the Insight Bowl. That's fine; that's what he should say.
But that doesn't mean we can't think about it now. And it doesn't mean we have to wait to offer a suggestion: come back.
There's always a risk in returning to school for another year. Sure there is. But there could be several rewards for Jones, too, regarding both his college and pro careers.
ESPN's Todd McShay, for reasons you're about to read, isn't the end-all when it comes to draft analyst. (That would be the teams, themselves, wouldn't it?) But he does represent some of the misperceptions out there about Jones, whom, despite them, McShay still rates fourth among quarterbacks in the still-hypothetical 2012 class.
First, here's what McShay said this week: “You start to look at Landry Jones as the one big faller, in my opinion. Landry Jones (hurt his stock) with inconsistency throughout the year and, really, falling apart when Ryan Broyles, his go-to wide receiver, got injured. In those last three games – they lost two of them – zero touchdown passes, five interceptions. That's not getting it done without the one wide receiver. It really looks like he lost his confidence.”
McShay, like the free world, has Stanford's Andrew Luck first. He dropped Jones from second, a preseason rating, to fourth. He moved Robert Griffin III up from not rated to third. He moved USC's Matt Barkley up from fourth to second.
Two quick notes: He said he didn't evaluate Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner, in the preseason “because he was a junior.” But he did Jones and Barkley? Huh?
Additionally, he projects that Brandon Weeden's age (28) will knock him down to a second- or third-round pick. “It's too bad, because he has the arm and the quick release,” McShay said.
All right, back to Jones.
Falling apart? Loss of confidence? I must have missed that. I'm wondering how scouts see it. Same as McShay?
This no-touchdowns-the-last-three-weeks thing keeps getting trotted out without proper context, that being Blake Bell became a short-yardage maniac in those games. What it illustrates, really, is that OU had to go the length of fields to score instead of big plays, a sure product of missing Broyles and asking Kenny Stills to do and be more than he was prepared to do and be.
Take note, Todd. Here's what I saw: Jones looked out of sync early against Baylor, but he was dang-good down the stretch on those last two scoring drives (both were more than 70 yards). The Sooners put up 38 in Waco. Don't think you can pin that too much on the offense.
There were some drops in that game, and they got worse the next two weeks, against Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Surely scouts would recognize the number of drops – 20 or so? – in those final three games. That's quite literally out of Jones' hands. It's an indictment of the offense without Broyles, perhaps, but not Jones.
He was actually pretty good in the Iowa State game, I thought, despite the gale-force winds.
Bedlam? It wasn't good, without question. He turned the ball over four times, but one was a fumble on a whiffed block on a mike linebacker blitz and another was a jump-ball pass – a 50-50 play – in the end zone. The other fumble and interception? All Landry.
He played a bad game – so did virtually everyone in an OU uni – but let's not throw around “falling apart” on Jones.
In fact, I thought he had a much better season than he'll ever be given credit for. He's good for those two or three boneheaded throws a game – and once or twice those throws go to the other team. Yeah, I know. But there's a lot of folks who seem to think moving on to Bell or Drew Allen will somehow solve something with the offense. Trust me, you want Jones back. It's a better offense and team with him than without him.
With Jones in 2012, and with a receiving corps that isn't forced to learn on the fly to play without Broyles, the Sooners are a Big 12 favorite again, aren't they? Who else would it be? Kansas State? TCU?
Oklahoma can enter the season hungry and humble, instead of proud and loud, and potentially surprise some folks who thought they underachieved greatly in 2011.
Here's the point, going back to McShay: Jones should come back, because this is currently what people think of him. Helpless without Broyles. The culprit of the Sooners' slide. Couldn't be much farther from the truth, but why fight it? Play one more season, prove yourself in 2012 and be one of the first quarterbacks – maybe the first – to be taken in 2013.