The 2018 NFL Draft is filled with talented running backs. There are backs loved by all and billed the next coming. Other backs are seen as having the potential to help teams in situational areas, or with talents perfect for certain schemes. Enter Ronald Jones.
He is one who has been seen as divisive among analysts and fans alike. Some love his game. Others wonder exactly where his game fits. First, let’s take a look at what it is that Jones brings. Then you can decide where it is that you stand on him.
Ronald Jones was a 4-star RB coming out of high school. He was considered one of the top two backs of his class. Many had watched with high hopes over the past three seasons. He didn’t see many starts his first two years at USC, but was given plenty of opportunities. Jones had over 150 attempts each of his three collegiate seasons. In his final season Jones was a bell cow for the Trojans. He carried the ball 261 times for 1550 yards and 19 touchdowns.
As a freshman, Ronald Jones was named honorable mention All-Pac 12. His sophomore year he was awarded second-team All- Pac 12. This past year Jones went on to be named All-Pac 12 first team. That wasn’t his top honor though. Ronald Jones was named third-team AP All-American his junior year.
His favorite player growing up was Reggie Bush. I’d say he did him proud. He surpassed Bush on USC’s all-time rushing list in both yards (3,619) and touchdowns (39).
Tale of the Tape
If I were asked to describe Ronald Jones in one word; it would be explosive. When he finds a hole, he accelerates through it before defenders have a chance to react. Once he hits the second level you better look out. He is a home run waiting to happen.
Once again we see Jones explode past the line of scrimmage. Once he gets going he’s able to convert his speed into power and shrug off would be tacklers. At the end of this play, you also see him fighting for extra yardage. Jones shows grit time and again. He’s not one to just give up. This an attribute that served him well. He finished tied for 5th with 18 runs of 15 yards or more.
Pass protection is something most young backs struggle with. Jones isn’t any different as he does tend to struggle holding up due to his size. He is always willing to take on even the biggest of defenders though. As shown here though he can buy his quarterback some time. Any defender that finds him on their path to the quarterback may think they’ll have an easy time, but they would be surprised if so.
Jones makes violent cuts. He’s able to read cutback lanes, plant, and go. On outside and zone runs he shows patience to wait for his blocks before finding that hole. When in the open field he’s able to use those cuts to get around defenders. Ronald Jones will make defenders work to take him down. First, they have to catch him. Then they have to hope he doesn’t slip away.
There wasn’t much opportunity for Jones in the passing game(only 40 targets during his three seasons at USC). It’s only just potential really as we’re working on a limited sample size. Just think of the possibilities though of this kid getting the chance to make plays like this in the open field.
There is so much to like about Ronald Jones. Most would assume a back at 5’11 205 pounds would be afraid of contact, or not able to hold up. Jones has shown the ability to carry a full load. He also runs inside with force and no hesitation. He’s a willing blocker who will throw his body in front of anyone. His speed and open field ability are what will entice teams and fantasy players the most.
As we enter the draft the tape is pretty much all we have to go on. Jones strained his hamstring running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He wasn’t able to do any testing after that. At his pro day, he did some on-field work but still wasn’t 100 percent. Therefore he chose not to do any testing but is expected to have a 2nd pro day.
The second day of the draft looks likely to be littered with running backs. Ronald Jones Should hear his name called with them. I would expect him to have a recovery from the injury, and not have it affect his stock. I think the 2nd round is where he will come off the board.