The University of Ohio State is one of the most active pipelines for the NFL.
Urban Meyer is right up there with Nick Saban in terms of recruiting and coaching up talent that ends up moving onto the NFL, and besides the powerhouse that Saban reigns supreme in Alabama, they’ve seen just as much success as any other program in recent memory.
When looking at specifically what kinds of players end up in favor of NFL evaluators, it’s defensive backs are the prized possessions of Columbus, Ohio. But offensive linemen are comfortably in second place in terms of quality.
Since a whole rookie contract ago in 2014, OSU is one of the nine FBS programs to have four offensive lineman drafted in the first five rounds. You can argue the group of Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein is the most well rounded of the nine groups in that timeframe too.
Ohio State didn’t win 61 games from Meyer’s first year in 2012 to 2016 without a good offensive line when facing consistently tough strength of schedules in and out of “B1G” play.
Their reputation for producing quality pass protectors and road graders should be established, but that reputation should not allow every potential pro prospect from that group to be anointed automatically.
And that’s where we were with Jamarco Jones earlier this draft season.
Jones started the final 27 games of his career as a Buckeye at left tackle, taking over where Decker left off when he became a first-round pick. In 2016, he was Second-team All-Big Ten, and this past season, he was rewarded with First-team All-Big Ten honors.
There were some who believed he was snubbed a chance to compete in the Senior Bowl, and some who pegged him as a a top-64 player in this class.
Personally, I watched very few Ohio State games this season and when I did, I focused on center Billy Price more than anything. But the hype was getting too noticeable for me to ignore, so I sat down and watched his film.
And the confusion set in.
probably his cleanest pass set. wide and square base. perfect strike and placement. edge was clueless. pic.twitter.com/jKGWG0YNxi— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) February 13, 2018
Jones, per PFF, only allowed J.T. Barrett to get touched by his assignment a total of four times; he was sacked twice and hit two other times. Jones got the job done in pass protection in a vacuum, and every now and then, he’d stifle the edge in his tracks like you see above. The entrance into his set is perfect, and his leverage upon engaging the edge matches it. However, this kind of rep seemed like an anomaly compared to the majority of his film.
Jones’s feet aren’t the issue, at least to me. It’s the consistent disconnect between his upper and lower half. The synchronization between a tackles feet, hips, and hands is what makes a clean set clean. If your hands are late like they are against the Michigan edge here, your ability to mirror his rush has less value when he can get in your chest. Jones is easily taken back and can’t reset. Luckily, Barrett gets the ball out on time.
The simple benefit of having length on the edge is being able to recover with it. It’s why the NFL will prioritize it from its tackles over other more important qualities. Jones was prone to misfire his punch or get caught off balance, but could just shut down whatever outside lane he opened with his length. A party trick that Cedric Ogbuehi has been known to do from time to time.
michigan 15 and wisconsin 94, both had success either getting jones off balance or whiffing multiple times. these are just the egregious examples. pic.twitter.com/dVMGmVNYff— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) February 13, 2018
Jones’s biggest struggles come with staying engaged and getting movement, specifically on down blocks in the run game. Often times he’ll be far too upright, leading to balance issues when striking the defender and driving him once engaged. The Michigan and Wisconsin games featured numerous occasions of Jones losing the point of attack due to one of these deficiencies.
Watch Jones’s feet on these two clips. His feet reach where Jones wants to move the defender, but the defender doesn’t. Jones has length, yes, but showed very little power to go with that length. Jones doesn’t play like a people mover, and that’s okay, but it limits what can ask him to do. Because as we’ve seen, you can’t exactly coach up functional strength.
Pulling was not something Jones was asked to do, and the one time I saw him do it, you could tell:
diving into jarmaco jones. this play will get two different reactions depending on who you are. pic.twitter.com/8Ggam8vdbr— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) February 13, 2018
This is more or less the summary of my concerns. That is absolutely not the way a tackle, or any blocker for that matter, is supposed to engage the fill player when pulling around the formation. But, he gets away with it and his side of the gap is sealed off. For offensive lineman, the process is more important than the result.
Before the combine, Jones was nothing more than a long-term backup with some starter potential from the film I viewed. At the combine, his overall profile managed to diminish my outlook on him even further. He measured in at 6’4” and 299 pounds, which is very small for an NFL tackle, but not the end of the world by any means as he confirmed his impressive length with 35” arms and an 85” wingspan. Every other number that Jones posted at the combine is a glaring issue.
No quality starter in the NFL has a profile like this, and we’ll expand upon that when we get to Orlando Brown. The saving grace with Brown is, he at least has an excess of density that boasts his testing numbers slightly higher than Jones’s. For a sub-300 pound lineman who struggles with speed and getting out of his stance on tape, this was not the performance you wanted to see.
Jones has the play style of a space blocker, but doesn’t have the athleticism to succeed in a zone-heavy scheme and doesn’t showcase the power to thrive in a gap-heavy scheme. He was serviceable in pass protection mainly due to his length and the rarity of which he was asked to execute vertical sets as opposed to simple jump sets in Ohio State’s offense.
I think he looked quicker on film than how he tested, and that may be the case, but the sentiment isn’t strong enough to just ignore the results.
Could he move inside?
Sure, his athleticism issues would be better hidden there, but not by much. And his issues with power would only be amplified.
The Bengals could draft a tackle literally anytime in this year’s draft, but Jones should not go off the board until sometime on Day 3, as there are other players with a higher floor and ceiling.