NFL Hot Press: Cardale Jones Seen As First-Round Prospect

Cardale Jones Seen As First-Round Prospect

Updated July 21, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

The Ohio State quarterback competition is the most anticipated story of the 2015 college football preseason. While college football fans are eagerly awaiting a starter to be named, the NFL scouting community is also on the edge of its seat, hoping that their preferred candidate wins the job. That player is junior Cardale Jones. The NFL wants to see Jones play because it really liked what it saw in the small sample size from the end of last season.

Jones completed 61 percent of his passes for 860 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He came up with some clutch passes in crunch time to lead Ohio State in those wins. Adding in that he has a firehose for an arm at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, the traits are there to get NFL evaluators excited for his potential as a pocket passer. We spoke with college scouts from numerous teams about what they saw in Jones.

Sources from some teams said they did some preliminary work on Jones because he could have declared for the 2015 NFL Draft. They said that from that initial work, there is a lot they really like about Jones. They said that Jones has rare physical talent and ability to do anything an NFL team could ask of their quarterbacks.

One source said that Jones reminds them of a less-mobile and athletic version of Cam Newton. Both are massive quarterbacks who are hard to get down and also possess the power to run over defenders. They also have devastating cannons for right arms. Jones has rare arm strength, and it makes sense why Jones’ nickname is “12 gauge.” His shotgun can make any throw to any location on the field that the NFL asks of quarterbacks. From the small sample size, Jones showed the ability to function as a pocket passer and distribute the ball downfield.

While Jones isn’t a runner like Newton, league contacts say that they like what he can do with his feet. He can pick up yards on the ground when plays break down. He has more quickness and athleticism than one would think. He is tough to bring down in the pocket and when he takes off downfield. His mobility and running only add to how he can hurt defenses.

A few sources said they have questions about Jones’ maturity and football I.Q. They hope those concerns will be put to rest by him winning the starting quarterback job and handling that role without any off-the-field issues. Sources did say they’ve heard that Jones is a good teammate and players gravitate towards him. They believe he has leadership potential.

One scouting director said they like Jones. He described him as, “Big, strong-armed kid, but has enough athletic ability and strength in the pocket. Vertical type passer … Cardale, is immature as a person, but if he checks out and wins the job, he has a chance to go high. Probably better than [Blake] Bortles if he plays like he did in the last three games.”

Bortles was the third-overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2014 NFL Draft. Sources from two other teams agreed that Jones would be a better prospect than Bortles if he played an entire season like he did in the final three games. Thus, sources from around the league see Jones as a first-round talent with the potential to go high on Thursday night in 2016, and they hope to see him get the opportunity to prove that.

Comment on this story here.