The New York Jets couldn’t afford to have the same quarterback situation they had last year. It’s time to meet the new backup, James Morgan.
With the 125th selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select… James Morgan, Quarterback, Florida International. The Jets were in need of a backup quarterback, but attacking that need in the draft was always a suspect idea.
Rookie quarterbacks are notoriously streaky and mostly awful. Drafting a developmental backup for Sam Darnold in the fourth round could have made sense if there was a veteran on the roster, but there isn’t. Even if that was the route they wanted to go, Jake Fromm was still on the board.
The thought process here is clear. General manager Joe Douglas loves prospects with a high upside, and Morgan fits the mold. He has the size, the arm strength, and the leadership skills that general managers adore.
If everything breaks right, Morgan could have starting quarterback upside. The issue is the Jets didn’t need that kind of quarterback. They needed a reliable backup who was ready to go year one, and Morgan isn’t going to be that guy.
Morgan was a three-star prospect in high school eventually developing into the 17th best pro-style quarterback in his class. He chose to attend Bowling Green under head coach Dino Babers.
Morgan was redshirted his true freshman year and was set to become the team’s starting quarterback in 2016. Then, Babers left Bowling Green to take over as the head coach at Syracuse. Morgan was forced to learn a new offense that didn’t fit him under new coach Mike Jinks.
Morgan started in 2016, but the numbers were underwhelming in Jinks’ offense. He completed only 56.1% of passes and threw for 2,082 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. It was an underwhelming start to Morgan’s career, to say the least.
He came back in 2017 and was again named the starting quarterback, but injuries and lackluster play limited him to only seven games. He completed just 45.3% of his passes and threw for 1,260 yards, nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
After finishing his pre-law degree in just three seasons, Morgan left Bowling Green. He decided to transfer to Florida International where he would be allowed to play immediately as a graduate transfer.
Morgan had a breakout junior season. He completed 65.3% of his passes and threw for 2,727 yards, 26 scores, and seven interceptions. Instead of declaring for the NFL draft Morgan decided to head back for one more year at FIU. That turned out to be a poor decision.
Morgan played through multiple injuries and saw the talent around him get worse. He dealt with one of the worst drop rates in the FBS in 2019. He completed just 58% of his passes and threw for 2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Morgan also played in the East-West shrine game completing nine of 14 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Morgan is as unathletic as they come in the pocket. His 4.89 40-yard dash was the fourth-worst at the combine, as was his 29-inch vertical, his 112-inch broad jump was fifth-worst, his 7.51 three-cone was the worst in the class, and his 4.64 20-yard shuttle was second-worst. Morgan is a statuesque pocket passer.
Sam Darnold is already one of the most unathletic quarterbacks in the NFL, and Morgan makes him look like Josh Allen. Morgan isn’t going to be leaving the pocket at any point during a game unless it’s necessary. He doesn’t throw on the run, and his agility in the pocket is mostly laughable.
To put this into context, Morgan ran for -168 yards in his college career. He didn’t finish with positive rushing yardage in a single season.
Don’t expect Morgan to be anything more than a dropback pocket passer. He doesn’t have the natural athleticism to do anything else in the modern NFL.
Morgan’s arm is his biggest strength. There’s no throw that he can’t make. He has the velocity and the strength to put the ball in tight windows anywhere on the field. He also has the strength and touch to throw the ball 50-plus yards in the air to his deep targets.
Morgan’s only other real strength is his toughness. He played nearly the entire 2019 season with a knee injury, and still displayed impressive arm strength. He doesn’t avoid contact in the pocket and isn’t afraid to take a hit.
Morgan also has an impressively low number of sacks against because he can get the ball out quickly and get the ball out under pressure. Even under these circumstances, Morgan isn’t a huge turnover machine only throwing 12 interceptions in the past two seasons. That’s only a 1.8% interception ratio.
Morgan has a number of weaknesses that all have to do with the mental side of the game. If he’s going to be an NFL quarterback, he’s going to need to improve his processing ability in the pocket.
Morgan very rarely worked through progressions at FIU. He believed his arm was strong enough to make it into any window he wanted. He was right that he could at the college level, but that won’t last in the NFL.
Morgan throws short passes without any touch. He launches passes at receivers within five yards of him making them harder to be caught than necessary.
He’d rather throw the ball into a tight window then lead a receiver into space. He also prefers throwing the ball into tight coverage then hitting open receivers a lot of the time.
Morgan also has a fumbling issue because he carries the ball low in his hands leading to strip-sacks.
His biggest weakness in the NFL though might be his accuracy. It’s true that his receivers dropped a ton of passes resulting in a tanked completion percentage in 2019, but it wasn’t the only reason. Morgan does only have one season with a completion percentage of over 60%.