Why the Slide?: Josh Jones

Why the Slide?: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Six years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Four years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

For a lot of the leadup to the 2020 NFL Draft, Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones was consistently mocked in the first round. WalterFootball.com reported that many teams had him graded on the second day of the draft, but given the hype and projections, it seemed like Jones had a real shot to go in the back half of the first round. There were a number of offensive line-needy teams picking there, and everybody knew the top four offensive tackles would all be gone by the 14th selection. Thus, it was surprising when Jones slipped to the third round.

In speaking to team sources, they said Jones went in an appropriate range given his grade. However, they also expected someone to take him earlier, so his slide was a surprise to teams as well. Here’s how one college director summarized Jones’ slide, “I think that late second or early third is what he is as a player, but we all sort of expected him to get run up the board for someone and taken earlier, but it didn’t happen.”

The Arizona Cardinals selected Jones in the third round, and the desert was a great landing spot for him. Right tackle was a big need for Arizona entering the 2020 NFL Draft because veteran Marcus Gilbert has really struggled to stay healthy and was just brought back with the pay of a backup. Young tackle Justin Murray will compete for the job as well, but Jones is penciled in as the long-term right tackle to go with left tackle D.J. Humphries. Gilbert can also play guard, while Murray is more of a backup-caliber player. Jones should have every opportunity to play early in his career and establish himself as a starter with the Cardinals.

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