Jacob Eason’s name just kept hanging there, like a wobbly throw waiting to be picked off.
It was there at the start of the second round, when analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called him the best available quarterback in the draft. It was there in the middle of the second round, after the Eagles selected QB Jalen Hurts instead of him.
It was there in the middle of the third round, when Kiper listed Eason as the best player still available. And it was there at the end of the third round, when after 106 selections, no team had picked him up.
Finally, with the 122nd pick, the Colts took the former Husky in the fourth round Saturday. Till that point, the draft gods had been unmerciful — as this result once seemed unfathomable.
“It was tough as a competitor,” said Eason, who joins fellow quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett in Indy. “I had heard anything from late first to early second, then it got down to the early second and it got down to the third round. It was disheartening not seeing any quarterbacks being picked. But hey, I’m super fortunate to be picked up by a great organization in a great situation in Indianapolis.”
When Eason earned the job as the Huskies’ starting quarterback last fall, the assumption was that he’d dazzle for 12 or 13 games before becoming a first- or maybe second-round pick. So the question is: Should he have come back for one more season at Washington?
There is no denying Eason’s near-peerless physical attributes. At 6 feet 6 and about 230 pounds, he has a prototypical frame for an NFL QB, and arm strength that’s equally striking.
It was conceivable that, regardless of his stats at Washington, his raw talent would shoot him to the top of salivating scouts’ draft boards. Not so, though. Not even a little bit.
The truth is, Eason had only one superhuman game in his lone year as a Husky. That came when he threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-28 passing in a win at BYU. Besides that, his time on Montlake was marked more by inconsistency than it was expertise.
There was the game he went 18 for 30 for 162 yards and no TDs in a loss against Cal. There was the game he went 16 for 36 for 206 yards and an interception in a loss against Stanford. There was his disappearing act in the fourth quarter in a loss to Oregon, and there were the three turnovers he committed in a loss against Utah.
Yes, Eason would sprinkle in some greatness during some of these contests, but it was often overshadowed by the gaffes. Surely another season at the college level, where he could prove he could make the smart plays and not just the spectacular ones, would have helped his stock, right?
Obviously, Eason didn’t see it that way.
He likely took into account that Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are two QBs poised to go early in next year’s draft, and figured this was his best chance to cash in. He probably also worried that his production would take a dip given that Washington is replacing its top two receivers in Hunter Bryant and Aaron Fuller. And the fact that the Huskies had a head-coaching change and a change at offensive coordinator only added to the uncertainty.
More than anything, though, it seemed Eason just wanted to go.
Jacob never seemed to express much joy while wearing a Huskies uniform. Smiles were sparse on the field, and though he was polite enough to the media, his energy was on par with a man filling out an expense report.
This ostensibly indifferent attitude seemed to hurt his standing with pro coaches, too. Tweeted NFL reporter Jason Cole on Friday: “QB Jacob Eason interviewed very poorly with NFL teams. Opinion is that he doesn’t work that hard at his craft.”
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen also said on the air that teams were concerned about Eason’s work ethic.
Criticism is a staple of the draft process, regardless of where a player is projected to go. But of all the adjectives one can incur, lazy might be the hardest one to shake.
Obviously, we weren’t in the room for those interviews, but it’s clear that NFL teams don’t see Eason as a franchise-changing quarterback. They looked at that Herculean frame and rocket right arm and apparently thought “meh.”
So should he have returned for one more year at Washington? Given what we’re seeing now, the answer seems like yes. He could have learned more poise, proven himself as a winner and possibly vaulted himself into the first or second round.|
But the reality is that was never going to happen. Eason didn’t seem to want to play at Washington anymore.
The question is — how bad does he really want to play anywhere?
“As soon as this virus calms down, I’m gonna go in there and compete my nuts off,” Eason said Saturday.
Good quote. Eason’s descent had to hurt him emotionally, but maybe it was the best thing that could have happened to him.
Editor’s note: This column has been updated to reflect news of Jacob Eason getting drafted on Saturday.