Cardale Jones (Ohio State) is one of the more polarizing quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. He boasts a strong arm, and some impressive mobility. .
What the Film Shows
Frequently he can be seen finishing tough runs and finding holes in opposing defenses with his legs. However, his progression as a passer has not come along as nicely as some had hoped. He has an awkward delivery, which would usually not bother me except that it is elongated and affects his timing and accuracy. Jones is slow through his progressions, and does not climb the pocket well with his eyes downfield. His footwork overall is pretty poor, which has led to some inconsistent accuracy.
What His Numbers Say
Here are Jones’ career numbers courtesy of Sports Reference:
I also took a look at his final season game log, and included the Football Outsiders S&P+ pass defense ranking for each opponent:
It looks like Jones made a huge mistake not coming out after his sophomore season, one in which he had almost 10 AYA and won a national championship. In 2015 he simply was not good, seeing most of his action against weak defenses, and eventually being replaced by J.T. Barrett as the lead signal-caller down the stretch. The latter is the most important thing to take from this analysis, as Jones didn’t play at all in Ohio State’s final three contests against major rivals in Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. If Urban Meyer doesn’t think that Jones is even the best quarterback for the Buckeyes, I have a really hard time believing he will ever be the top dog for an NFL franchise.
What His Measurables Reflect
Now that the NFL Combine is over, we will have a little more information on our quarterback prospects. I also pulled Jones’ age from Jon Moore’s excellent Draft Age Database. Jones’ stint at the Combine was short, as he pulled a hamstring during his second run of the 40 yard dash, but he still showed up at a great height and weight. He also showed some explosion in the vertical jump. Still, at only 4.81 speed Jones probably isn’t fast enough to make up for many of his deficiencies as a passer. And to accentuate my previous point about how Jones should have declared last year, he’s already over 23 years of age.
Player Comparison: Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow was one of the most prolific college football players of all time, and ended up being a first round draft selection, but Jones looks like a lite version of him on tape. I feel as though the same things that prevented Tebow from being a starting NFL quarterback will also affect Jones, particularly accuracy and a dysfunctional throwing mechanism. They also both played under Meyer, so the stylistic similarities shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you need reassurance that Jones probably won’t pan out in the NFL, consider that Tebow posted a 9.8 AYA or better all three years he started for Meyer at Florida, scored 132 total touchdowns over that time frame, and worked his butt off to fix his mechanics, and he was still out of the league within five seasons.
Ideal Landing Spot: Seahawks
Simply put: the ideal spot for Jones can’t be a place where he is expected to start anytime soon. He can make plays, but needs to learn how to function within the context of an NFL offense. I think spending time with Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll can help him to reach his potential if it exists, and then he can probably be traded or signed to a team that will allow him a chance to start. Make no mistake, any investment in Jones is one that will have to be long term. Those don’t typically pan out.
Current 2QB Fantasy Rookie Draft Projection: 4th Round (Undrafted in 1QB Leagues)
I’m not really sure that Jones is worth drafting at all, but if history is any indication, he will probably be taken somewhere in the fourth round of 2QB rookie drafts. I’m anticipating him slipping to day three of the real NFL draft, but he still has perceived “upside” among fantasy and draftnik circles alike. In single quarterback formats, there is no reason to draft someone who won’t be a starter within a year or two, so he’s a complete pass there (no pun intended).
Cardale Jones Summary
As I’ve already stated numerous times, the odds of a quarterback going from college backup to NFL starter are not great, so it will take an enormous amount of faith to expect anything major out of Jones. An older prospect who still requires a lot of development is never a good thing. Perhaps he can stick somewhere as a “slash” kind of player, but we’ve seen a lot of those packages phased out of the league, especially for productive NFL offenses. His prospects seem over-hyped right now.
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