2016 NFL Draft: early look at Ohio State’s Cardale Jones

Ohio State’s Cardale Jones is an elite physical talent who has tools that project well to the next level. His combination of size, athleticism and arm strength are rare to find in a quarterback prospect. This potential is why Jones is in the first-round mix

He has the arm strength to make all the throws, generate zip to all levels of the field and squeeze the ball into tight spaces. Jones also shows good loft on his deep ball which allows his receiver to run underneath. This is a balanced quarterback who steps into his throws and drives of his back foot.

However, there are several important parts of his game that still need to be developed. Jones is a see-it throw-it quarterback meaning he waits for his receiver to become open and then throws the football. This results in him holding the ball too long and allowing the defensive back to get a good read on his eyes.

Jones needs to do a better job throwing with anticipation and leading his receivers. This clip is a perfect example of Jones holding the ball too long and staring down his target:

The play resulted in a touchdown, but in the NFL defensive backs are more aggressive and take advantage of these situations. It’s likely that this play would’ve ended with an interception at the next level.

Jones’ struggles making quick decisions also impact his accuracy and ball placement. There are a large number of his throws that force the receiver change direction or make a spectacular catch. Improving his ball placement will increase the timing and fluidity of the offense.

The image below shows how a poorly placed ball stopped the momentum of the wide receiver. Jones’ target was forced to stop his route and reach back to make the catch. Routes like slants are more effective when the receiver can make the catch in stride and keep running.

via draftbreakdown.com

Ohio State allows Jones to make a lot of plays with his legs. His running plays a major role in the offense’s ability to move the chains. This has always been an issue for me when evaluating quarterbacks. As shown in the clip below, Jones just isn’t comfortable standing in the pocket and scanning the field:

He feels safer reading his first option and vacating the pocket if he’s covered. In the NFL, Jones will need to sit in the pocket and go through his progressions. It’s going to take time for him to develop a feel for the pocket.

The positive for Jones is that he has the physical tools NFL coaches love to develop. Someone is going to fall in love with his skill set and believe they have the coaching ability to turn Jones into a superstar. At this point in his development, Jones is a high risk- high reward prospect.