What Should We Expect From Jake Luton?by Mason Thompson November 8, 2020 0 comments
If you had told any Jacksonville Jaguars fan that Gardner Minshew would be benched in 2020, they would’ve run you out of town. After a great rookie season where he had 21 touchdowns to only six interceptions, Jacksonville fans went all-in on him. Halfway through the season and sitting at 1-6, the Jaguars have now benched the mustached wonder due to a thumb injury.
The Jaguars only other quarterbacks on the roster are Mike Glennon and Jake Luton. Glennon is a journeyman, and the front office knows what he is. Luton, on the other hand, is a fresh face that was drafted in the sixth round out of Oregon State this year. The coaching staff decided to hand the keys to Luton before this week’s game against the Houston Texans. So, what should we expect from him?
Luton had grown up a fan of the Washington Huskies. Unfortunately, Washington never wanted him. Luton attended a camp in Idaho, and the coaching staff offered him a scholarship. He redshirted his first year at Idaho and returned as the team’s backup in 2015. Luton played in eight games that season and passed for 403 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions.
Instead of returning to Idaho for his redshirt junior year, he transferred to a junior college. At Ventura Community College in California, he passed for over 3,500 yards and had 40 touchdowns in the 2016 season. At the junior college level, he had caught the eye of some other major programs, including Oregon State. Luton started the first four games of 2017 before suffering a thoracic spine fracture. Before the injury, he passed for over 800 yards and had four touchdowns and four interceptions.
When he returned in 2018, he suffered multiple injuries that kept him out of several contests. The NCAA granted him eligibility for his sixth year to return to Oregon State. He made the most of the opportunity and passed for over 2,700 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions last year.
The draft community was split on Luton. Half of the community loved him as a late-round developmental flier, while the others thought he had no business being on an NFL roster. Some of the positives from his draft profile were his size, as he comes in at 6’6″. Even with the height, he can move around the pocket and create some plays on his own. He was a quick processor and would let the defense make mistakes instead of himself forcing them.
The negatives were aplenty. Luton’s throwing motion came out low, resulting in a lot of passes being batted down at the line of scrimmage in college, despite his height. Of course, the college level doesn’t let the quarterbacks get through their progressions, and at Oregon State, he had really only one option on each play, and he’d look there, and that’s where the ball was going to. Everything was pre-determined by the coaching staff.
The ultimate summary of Luton in college was that he was going to be a developmental option on day three. He can come in and provide a spark but won’t be a viable starter other than in a spot-start. He is a smart player, and his unwillingness to give up is what made the Jacksonville coaching staff love him.
Week 9 Against Houston
Thankfully, Luton has his first game against a lackluster Houston defense. The Texans will be without several players at the second level as well as Bradley Roby (you can read the full preview of this game here). The coaching staff will likely find ways to get the ball out of his hands quickly, which will be more beneficial to James Robinson and Laviska Shenault. The Jaguars should manufacture some plays to get the ball into Shenault’s hands to take the pressure off of Luton. Of course, Jacksonville also has D.J. Chark. He has dealt with injuries off-and-on this year, and now he’s playing with a new quarterback. Luton has plenty of weapons at his disposal and will try to keep up with Deshaun Watson and the high-powered offense on Sunday. He will also be trying to evade J.J. Watt at the same time.
At this point, it is all but likely that Jacksonville will take a quarterback early in the 2021 draft. Minshew has shown he can serve as a middle-of-the-road starter in the league, but ultimately the Jaguars didn’t have him pegged as their future at the quarterback spot. Maybe Luton can come in and show he can start in this league, or he can keep faith in the front office that he can be a viable backup option. It will be interesting to watch.