And as teams delved deeper, they found that the game film didn’t show everything. Scouts discovered that an undisclosed broken rib compromised his accuracy as a redshirt sophomore. They learned that Jones, instead of taking a nap after practice and classes, often went to the football facility with teammates in tow to watch more film.
“It was almost to the point where it was annoying for you,” Quentin Harris, Jones’s backup last season, said with a laugh. “You’d just want to go home, but Daniel loves getting after it.”
Jones was an outlier at Duke, the only player drafted across his four seasons there. Teams considered that reality — as well as the 39 balls dropped by his receivers, most in the Football Bowl Subdivision, according to Pro Football Focus — when parsing Jones’s cumulative statistics: 59.9 percent completion rate, 52 touchdowns to 29 interceptions, 6.4 yards per attempt. His numbers paled against those of peers in the class.
Jim Nagy, the 18-year N.F.L. scout who last year took over as executive director of the Senior Bowl, said he thought the class lacked definite elite quarterbacks, but contained some who might eventually become stars. For Nagy, both Jones and the overall No. 1 pick, Kyler Murray, fell into the latter category. When he called 17 teams around Thanksgiving to discuss potential Senior Bowl rosters, it was “pretty consensus,” Nagy said, that Jones would go in the first round.
With a high pick, Gettleman said he knew for a while that he would draft a quarterback. “I felt like this would be our best chance,” he said, “and it was important that we didn’t force it.”
By the Senior Bowl, in late January, Gettleman had reviewed film of, and scouted in person, each of the top quarterbacks. He was smitten with Jones, whom he had rated highly in critical factors like explosion and play speed and in other more nebulous categories like poise and instincts.