Immediately following the NFL Draft over the past several seasons, I tap into the SB Nation network and reach out to editing managers and staff writers for the respective college websites of each of the drafted players by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I do this for two reasons: first of all, because there is a lot of value in getting insights from those who have watched the players so closely and covered them extensively throughout their college careers, and secondly because it’s nice to be able to cross-promote with fellow SB Nation peers.
With the Jaguars having a ridiculous 12 picks this year (and not trading a single one of those away), we’ll be spreading out these question-and-answer sessions throughout the next couple of weeks.
We begin the series discussing Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton — Jacksonville’s first sixth round pick in 2020 (No. 189 overall). To provide us with analysis is Building The Dam’s site manager, Max, also known as “The_Coach.” Building The Dam is your one-stop shop for all Oregon State Beavers news.
Here is our conversation below:
1. This is the third straight year the Jaguars have drafted a quarterback in the sixth round. Jacksonville may have struck gold with Minshew last year. While it wouldn’t be fair to group Luton and Minshew together, what does Luton bring to the table that should excite Jags fans? What does he need to work on?
Building The Dam: You can see by his stats that Luton is not a turnover risk. He’s a smart quarterback with a good frame who avoids dangerous throws. He likes to operate the offense and keep the ball in his team’s possession, which assuming he’s a back-up is the exact role you’d want him to play. While he made some deep ball throws at Oregon State, his precision down the field has to improve and his willingness to not settle has to get better. If you think about the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now, those guys are sheer play-makers who don’t need to take a chance to make a big play. Luton is not that guy right now.
Another thing is that he very much settled into his time with the Beavers and the longer he played, the more he looked comfortable in the pocket and running the show. Obviously, unless Minshew gets hurt or there’s a reason they move to Luton for weeks on end, I don’t think he can be thrown into the mix and show his true stuff. Overall, though, for a sixth round pick, he has some great potential to be on the depth chart for years to come.
2. The Jaguars typically take three quarterbacks into training camp, but carry jut two at the position on the active roster. Do you think Luton has what it takes to not only make the roster, but to win the backup job over Josh Dobbs? Why, or why not?
Building The Dam: I will be honest to say that I didn’t know Josh Dobbs was the Jaguars’ back-up before Luton was picked by Jacksonville, but since then, I’ve done some research and if I was Luton, I’d be happy where I landed. Dobbs is probably more ready to be called upon in a game and hold down the fort for a few plays, but like I mentioned before, if you give Luton his time, he can become a stable presence that can control the team. I’d give him preference over Dobbs for the number two spot.
3. Quarterbacks are oftentimes natural leaders, and the Jaguars are looking to bring in as many high-character guys as possible it seems. What have you seen from Luton as a leader or teammate in this regard that stands out?
Building The Dam: Most people probably don’t know this, but the Oregon State quarterbacks room has been an absolute mess over the past few seasons. Between Jonathan Smith taking over as head coach and the revolving door of pieces, it’s never been a sure bet who would be leading the team. Luton was hurt with a back injury in 2018 and never really got to prove his worth, but this past year, even with the on-field results lacking for the squad, he kept producing and kept the team together. A lot of fans in Corvallis are happy with how coach Smith is revamping the program and guys like Luton, who stayed the course and made the most of his time with the program, are prime examples of the type of players you want on your football team.
4. Luton has excellent size at 6-foot-6, 224 pounds. He doesn’t turn the ball over much, either. Does he have the arm strength to back up that kind of size and decision-making, and do any particular college games stick out to you where he showed all of these traits off?
Building The Dam: In terms of his natural arm strength, I would say that his ability definitely doesn’t match his size. He’s got a good arm, not an elite one and downfield throws (while rare in the system), were more of a hopeful cheer than a regular tendency. I do think he can develop the type of behavior needed to get to a level where he’s comfortable but again, that comes with field time and that may not be something he gets to see too much of.
If you want to see Luton’s best game on film, it’d be the November game against Washington State, where he and the Cougars’ Anthony Gordon ordered up a complete shoot-out and the Beavers quarterback walked away with 408 yards and 5 touchdowns. For a bad news version, check out Oregon State’s 19-7 defeat to Washington. It shows just what can happen when he (and yes, the offense overall) get a bit too conservative.
5. Luton is well-versed in pro-style offenses after spending time at Oregon State. How do you believe this helps prepare him for the NFL, and how much of a benefit is it for Luton?
Building The Dam: We all know that the NFL is probably more complicated from an X’s and O’s standpoint than ever before and a guy like Luton is perfectly suited to learn that type of playbook. He can lead a huddle. He can understand concepts. He doesn’t make mistakes. I wouldn’t worry about that type of preparation in terms of if he knows how to be an NFL quarterback. However, the pro-style system can have it’s drawbacks as well and for all the good it’s been for Luton, he definitely isn’t a threat to move outside the pocket and most of his preferred play-calling would probably be in quick-passing game concepts. He’s a player whose development could be helped with the presence of a strong running game, which I think for Jacksonville is a bit of an unknown right now.
6. Anything else the readers should know about Luton?
Building The Dam: This probably isn’t the best people to share with the fact that I’m a Tennessee Titans fan, but if it’s some consolation, I would want Luton on our team rather than yours. Realistically, his biggest issue with him being a better NFL prospect is that he’s downright “boring” in terms of his style of play and he’s kind of a dime-a-dozen type of prospect. However, for a sixth-round quarterback, he’s a great value pick who could be your back-up for years on end or maybe develop into something more because he just simply does not hand the ball away. If he can keep that up (and develop further), he’ll be just fine, in my opinion.
Big thanks to The_Coach for providing great insights into Luton and what he can bring with him to Jacksonville. For more on Luton and Oregon State, be sure to check out Building The Dam on Twitter.