The football world is still months away from the 2016 NFL Draft, but the major storyline halfway through the college football season is the plummeting stock of Cardale Jones.
Undoubtedly Jones’ prospects have taken some lumps, but he’s not exactly a penny stock, either. Don’t be surprised if Jones is still a first-round pick this spring in the NFL Draft.
Yes, this comes just days after Urban Meyer announced he was benching the “12-Gauge” in favor of J.T. Barrett.
But the thing a lot of writers and TV talking heads are forgetting about is the emphasis placed on quarterback come draft day.
Pressure is something we as humans deal with on a daily basis, and NFL executives are no different on the biggest day of the offseason. In a quarterback driven lead, general mangers, scouts and coaches are constantly looking for the franchise quarterback that makes everyone look like a genius.
Pundits such as Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller said in a recent blog-cast that an NFL scout told him that Jones would still be elected in the first or second round. Miller followed that up by stating his disagreement.
Miller does great work for the B/R, and he has a football background, but he’s never been employed by an NFL team, according to his B/R profile. He’s an NFL Draft guru in the age of social media, but shouldn’t a scout’s opinion mean more when it comes to evaluating Jones?
It’s not that Miller is wrong about Jones. In a world that makes sense, Jones would be taken in the second or third rounds and given time to develop. But the NFL stands for “Not For Long” for a reason. Teams are under pressure to win, and win now. And that means finding a quarterback to lead the way.
We all forget how organizations reach for quarterbacks. Blaine Gabbert was the 10th overall in 2011. Ryan Tannehill was a project when he came out in 2012, having converted from receiver. The Bill stunned everyone when they took E.J. Manuel in 2013. And Brandon freaking Weeden! Need I say more?
Three of those four have already washed out and Tannehill is the only one who still holds a starting job. But these gentlemen were picked for a reason. They all possessed the physical tools NFL teams desire. They have size, and they have big arms. Those two reasons alone will ramp up Jones’ draft stock come combine season and leading up to the draft.
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NFL teams will also consider the Ohio State offense that Jones has struggled with in 2015. You can’t be a statue in Urban Meyer’s system, so while Jones excelled playing for Meyer in three postseason games a year ago, he stumbled after winning job during the preseason.
That still doesn’t take away that Jones just looks like an NFL quarterback.
"“Jones is more of a classic NFL fit, and his ability to get away from sacks and make plays on the move that way will help him there. Betting now, I think Jones will be a starter in the NFL. But I think Barrett could be, too.”"
Despite a disappointing season, Jones is still 6-foot-5, and and 249 pounds. There’s still game film of 12-Gauge using his cannon arm to beat college football’s best. When NFL teams get desperate come May, they’ll see that film, and pull the trigger on Jones, perhaps earlier than they should.
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