Cardale Jones pulled the rug out from underneath many by announcing that he would return to Ohio State after contemplating leaving early for the NFL.
After injuries to two starters – Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett – Cardale Jones stepped under center for the Ohio State Buckeyes for the team’s final three games and helped bring his team a national championship trophy back to Columbus. And under that spotlight Jones could have translated that into potentially being a Day 2 selection or even a late first day pick in next April’s NFL Draft.
Not bad for a kid who was buried third on the depth chart just five months ago.
On Thursday, Jones declined to declare for the draft despite scouts who were all over the place on where he was projected to go. Some analysts had him as a fifth round pick while others like Mel Kiper Jr. say he could go as high as the second round. There was also talk of Jones potentially being a late first rounder.
What Jones was able to accomplish in those three games was something out of a Hollywood movie.
After taking over for Barrett – who took over for Miller – Jones completed nearly 61 percent of his passes (56-of-92) for 860 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions while defeating No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 2 Alabama and No. 12 Oregon. Jones showcased an above average NFL arm, good accuracy and leadership in his three starts. Add in his 72 carries for 296 yards (4.1 avg.). and as some described a running back with a linebacker’s body, Jones would have been an intriguing prospect for a number of NFL teams, even possibly the Buccaneers.
If Jones had declared could Tampa Bay have been interested in Jones as an option in the later rounds? And if by chance they were impressed, it would have given the Buccaneers another option including adding defensive help with the first pick (like USC’s Leonard Williams) or trade down and acquire several additional draft picks. But that would have left the Buccaneers most likely going through the entire 2015 season with either Josh McCown or Mike Glennon under center, as undoubtedly Jones would have needed some time to develop. Of course not even Urban Meyer would admit he expected Jones to play as well as he did with so few reps during the season.
For the now the question doesn’t need to be answered as Jones repeatedly mentioned during his Thursday afternoon press conference that it was an easy decision to return to Ohio State. Jones’ decision surprised many and left at least a handful of NFL front office’s a little disappointed perhaps. But in a day and age where athletes are sometimes vilified for leaving college early for the fame and fortune of the NFL, Jones went against public opinion and somewhere earned a new respect from some.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
I’m glad for his sake that he stayed in school. My guess is that he was all set to go unless Meyer promised him he would start next year. He probably got confirmation from Meyer after he had already scheduled the press conference. I don’t have an opinion on how he would have fared in the NFL had he declared because 3 games is not enough data for me to project a position as complex as QB to the NFL. It would have been fun to watch where he was drafted and follow his NFL career. It would have made a great data point for future draft analysis.
One more reason to ignore Mel Kiper…
Good decision, young man! Play your heart out and stay healthy. If you’re as good as advertised this year, you’ll be even better next year. Good stuff from the giant who killed Jack!
I think that was a great decision for this young man. Have him get another season under his belt. He could be in a top 5 pick next year. Bucs left out for him-GO Bucs-If He came out I would have drafted him with bucs 2round pick. GO BUCS
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