The Senior Bowl is another opportunity — and final live-game chance — for players coming out of college to showcase their skills and impress NFL scouts before the draft this spring. It’s also for, you know, seniors, so some of the most popular players, like quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, aren’t invited because they aren’t seniors.
However, former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones — who was a junior this season before declaring for the NFL Draft in December — found a way around the eligibility requirements, which limit participation to only college seniors and fourth-year juniors who graduate by the December before the game.
Jones — a projected first-round draft pick — was actually a redshirt junior in 2018, but a conversation he had with the game’s executive director, Jim Nagy, at the beginning of the season allowed him to shirk the rules a little bit, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who is at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
As Rapoport explained after talking with Nagy himself:
“(Nagy) actually met with Daniel Jones this past September, got a feel for the fact that Jones might come out, would be one of the top quarterbacks. And he said, ‘Listen, I know you’re not a senior, but based on your academic standing, if you take just one more class, you would actually qualify for the Senior Bowl.’
“Jones thought about it, added a class, and now, because of that, first of all, graduated. Second of all, gets the opportunity to show everything he’s got in front of NFL scouts here this week.”
Jones graduated this fall with an economics degree and led the Blue Devils to an 8-5 finish this season, although they were still sixth in the ACC Coastal division.
They beat Temple in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, 56-27, and Jones completed 30-of-41 passes for 423 yards and five touchdowns — both season-highs. He also threw two interceptions.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback from Charlotte finished the 2018 season with a 60.5 completion percentage, throwing for 2,674 yards — including a season-high 85-yarder — 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 319 yards and three more touchdowns. He was a three-year starter at Duke.
Jones is one of the key QBs to watch in the Senior Bowl.