OU football: Landry Jones' draft stock will improve by returning in 2012

Losing Ryan Broyles to injury did not do Jones any favors. But the junior quarterback performed better than some skeptics are saying.
BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, thaney@opubco.com Published: December 18, 2011

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.

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