Last year Cardale Jones became an overnight sensation in the College Football Playoffs leading Ohio State past Alabama and Oregon to the National Title. But after getting benched in October in favor of JT Barrett many experts wonder if Jones can make it in the NFL as a starting quarterback.
Jones didn’t play badly in 2015. In fact he probably was a victim of his own success the previous year. After stepping and leading the Buckeyes to the National Championship the bar was probably set too high. In late 2014 it looked like Ohio State wouldn’t be voted into the College Football Playoffs JT Barrett, who has been the starter all year was injured going into the Big Ten Championship Game. An unknown redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 victory which propelled the team into the first ever playoffs.
In the playoffs the Buckeyes drew Alabama, the #1 seed. The Crimson Tide were a big favorite but Jones led his team to the upset win by passing for 243 yards and a touchdown and 47 rushing yards. In the Championship Game against Oregon he threw for 242 and a touchdown while rushing for 38 and a TD. After the game there was a lot of speculation that Jones would leave Ohio State for the NFL Draft but he opted to come back to school and go for a second straight title.
After throwing seven interceptions to five touchdowns in 2015 Urban Meyer benched Jones in favor of Barrett against Maryland. The switch didn’t last long as Barrett got popped for a DUI and Jones regained his spot under center a month later against Minnesota. The Buckeyes won the game but Urban Meyer decided to go with Barrett as the starting QB and Jones was relegated to back-up again. Ohio State missed out on the College Football Playoffs after losing to Michigan State and Jones announced he was heading to the NFL after the bowl win over Notre Dame.
It’s thought that Jones could go anywhere from the second round to a late round pick. Having drawn comparisons to former #1 pick JaMarcus Russell, Jones is a big guy with a big arm. He is surprisingly mobile and can move around outside the pocket to make plays. His decision making has been a question mark. The former Buckeye won’t be a starter in the NFL next year but if given some time to develop Jones could get his shot one day. A team like the Rams might be a good fit. Jeff Fisher helped groom a similar QB in Steve McNair years ago. With his big arm he could put up some big numbers in the St. Louis or Los Angeles one day. Another NFL team who could draft Jones late would be the Cleveland Browns. I’m sure the fans in Cleveland would love to see him air it out in the preseason and fight for a roster spot. Given his ties to the area the Browns fans would be rooting for him.
There is still a lot that will play out between now and the NFL Draft but Jones will get his shot. It’s just up to him to make sure he gets a spot on the roster later this summer.