The Jacksonville Jaguars knew they had to add a quarterback to their arsenal of offensive players at some point this offseason. Most just didn't know if it would come in the form of a veteran free agent, a high draft pick, or, in the case of Jake Luton, a late-round selection.
The Jaguars opted to go through the main periods of free agency without signing a quarterback and didn't target a quarterback early in last month's draft after three went in the first six selections. Instead, they waited until the No. 189 overall selection, eventually pulling the trigger on Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton.
“It was something we felt like we needed to address either through the draft or through bringing a veteran in or possibly both. We addressed it through the draft tonight," general manager Dave Caldwell said following the draft. "We’ll look at all our situations not at just quarterback, but at every position. Like we said earlier, we’ll just see where we can upgrade."
Luton took a winding road to the NFL, much like the Pac-12 quarterback the Jaguars selected in the sixth round in the year before. Luton, who was the Jaguars' 10th selection and the team's sixth of the draft's third day, spent six years in college. He bounced around as a collegiate quarterback, playing for Idaho, Ventura Community College, and Oregon State.
In 2019, the 6-foot-6 signal-caller three 28 touchdowns to just three interceptions, putting him on NFL radars and landing him a spot at the NFLPA all-star game. Combine this solid regular season and offseason with his traits, and it became clear why the Jaguars had an interest in him.
“We liked his size, we liked his release, his arm strength. Bigger body. And we really liked the way he threw the ball at the NFLPA game, at the all-star game he was at," Caldwell said. "We felt like he has got some upside. He is 6’6”, 200-and 40 some odd pounds, and moves well in the pocket. We just felt like with those traits and what he could offer that he could come in and compete for a spot on this roster.”
Luton is essentially a polar opposite compared to Minshew. Minshew wins with his ability to escape the pocket and create plays out of structure. He is a terrific athlete in terms of maneuverability, and his ability to adjust in the pocket and throw from different platforms is at another level for a sixth-rounder.
As for Luton, he wins in the pocket. He wants to take his drops in the pocket, read the defense, and deliver the ball. He knows where he wins, and the Jaguars do as well.
"I think that the coaches take a lot of merit in quarterbacks that take care of the football and I don’t read into that stuff too much. Every player brings their own skill set to the table," Luton said after he was drafted. "Mine is that I can stay in the pocket and throw the ball over the field and I take care of the ball. The athleticism is never something that I’ll shine at, but I can really help the team in other ways. I think taking care of the football and not turn it over is a huge one as a QB decision.”
After playing at a number of colleges until he finally starred in the Pac-12 in his final collegiate season before becoming a sixth-round pick by the Jaguars, Luton knows his path to Jacksonville will be compared to Minshew's. While the two are different players, their journeys are eerily similar.
The Jaguars' decision-makers would likely be doing backflips if Luton developed as quickly as Minshew did in his rookie season. While it is unlikely he finds the field early on as Minshew did, Luton knows he and Minshew will be able to learn from one another and ultimately improve the Jaguars' quarterback room as a result.
"I think that’s going to be really cool for me and him to be able to be in that room and have shared similar journeys and we can just push each other to be the best we can be. It doesn’t bother me at all, I’m excited to get to work with him and, like I said, push each other.”