In four games last season, Cardale Jones emerged into a real playmaker at the quarterback position. The Ohio State Buckeyes went on to win the National Championship and the play of Jones was one of the main reasons why. Blessed with an accurate arm, and a Cam Newton-esque frame at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Jones really took the nation by storm. However, the 2015 season brought the Cardale hype train back to earth a bit.
Nevertheless, Jones remains a wonder. Scouts will turn on the 2014 tape and absolutely love the project they have, but when they look at his 2015 tape, they’ll see a guy who not only thrives from the players around him but also has his weaknesses covered up thanks to the excellent scheme Ohio State deploys.
The word ‘project’ is a word the Dallas Cowboys might look into for the upcoming draft. Tony Romo likely has 3-4 seasons left, and that’s if his back and clavicle issues hold up. Because the Cowboys have seen how bad their backup quarterback play is, taking a chance on Jones and letting him and sit and develop behind Romo actually does make sense. Let’s take a look at Jones on tape and see how he projects to the NFL.
The first thing to point out is how difficult he is to bring down. Given his size, Jones is a tough out and he’s a threat to use his feet to move the sticks as well.
The first throw I have in this film review is one that shows just how fluid Jones looks as a passer. He has good mechanics for a guy who didn’t get much experience at the collegiate level. Jones drives off his back foot and unleashes an accurate deep ball, putting it just out of reach of the two defenders.
The next throw is from 2015 film. In this throw, Jones shows his problem of inconsistency. Jones misses his wide open man and instead sails the football over his head.
One thing I like about Jones that goes with his athleticism is his ability to throw the football on the run. In this GIF, the play breaks down, but Jones gets out of the pocket to find his man.
In terms of touch passes, Jones does throw one of the prettier footballs I’ve seen. His mechanics allow him to get his weight behind his throws. In this throw, we see a beautifully thrown ball for a touchdown.
Here’s another example of Jones and the excellent touch he puts on the football. This is another example of touch, but he also shows excellent anticipation, putting the football where his receiver is running to, instead of where his receiver is. That’s a big thing for the NFL and Jones excels at it.
The next throw is one where Jones puts the football right on the money for a first down. If this ball is thrown anywhere else, it would be deflected, but Jones hits his receiver in stride in a spot where only his receiver can get to it.
It’s clear to me that Jones has raw tools that could translate well to the NFL. He shows good pocket poise, he has a real solid arm, and he is a proven winner that knows how to handle an offense, as is the case by Urban Meyer’s scheme.
Jones is a guy that needs a ton of refinement. I’m a fan of him, but I’d be shocked if Jones goes before Round 4. He’s just too raw and he benefits from having a star-studded offense around him. I’d like to see more consistency and more NFL-level throws from Jones, and when you throw on the tape, you just don’t see that.
All in all, there isn’t enough gameplay to make a clear assumption for how Jones projects at the professional level. There are some things to like, but Jones’ 2015 tape is far from a finished product, and when you pair that with his cockiness, it doesn’t bode well for Jones.
How does Jones fit in Dallas? If the Cowboys want to wait until the middle rounds to draft their developmental quarterback, Jones actually might be a good option. While some teams may rule Jones completely off their draft board, I think he still has the talent and potential to be molded into an NFL quarterback.
The biggest problem I have with Jones is how he can manage a different offense. An NFL team will have to use the wait-and-see approach to see exactly what they have, but I still expect Jones to be drafted and to be put on a track where he could become a starting quarterback at some point in time.
Games watched: Alabama, Penn State, Maryland, Virginia Tech
Next up on the docket: Cody Kessler