Cardale Jones is a very talented quarterback. He’d have played at least three seasons as the undisputed starter for most power five FBS D1 programs.
In an interview with Cleveland.com, ESPN’s George Whitfield described his arm in a term heretofore reserved solely for discussions about Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco: “Elite. It’s rare. […] It’s almost like you want popcorn to watch this throwing session. I haven’t seen anything like this arm and I’ve been around a lot of quarterbacks.”
So, why isn’t this guy a consensus first round draft pick in this spring’s draft?
Well, let’s look at what the Ohio State Buckeyes did to prepare and showcase him or, rather, what they didn’t do.
Out of high school, Jones didn’t academically qualify, and wound up at a military academy.
The next year, he finally made it to Columbus- and despite being a year older than the other freshman, and his cannon arm, was redshirted anyway.
So, by 2014, he was a redshirt sophmore, but, really, by the end of that year, four football seasons would have passed since the guy was actually in high school. In 2016, he looks like he’s about 30.
Let’s stick with his (defacto double) redshirt “sophomore” season, though.
Surely, Ohio State would be ready to give him a crack at the starting job? With that “elite” arm and all?
Nope. Third stringer at the beginning of that year- Third. Stringer.
However, the football gods smiled on Mr. Jones, and, thanks to an injury to starter JT Barrett, Jones finally got his chance against #11 ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game (No pressure 😉 ).
How’d he do? Well, Ohio State 59 Wisconsin 0 says it all. Then he won a playoff game, and the NCAA FBS Championship.
So, you know, you’d think he’d be the starter in 2015, right?
Nope. Well, not quite, anyway. He and JT Barrett were in competition all off-season, and, last I saw them, they were splitting time against the Terrapins. By mid-October, he was holding a clipboard on the Buckeyes’ bench.
So, how much have NFL scouts really seen of this guy? He should be a first round pick, but, he isn’t, because he went to Ohio State.
Today, news broke that he’s got a hamstring pull, and can’t throw at the NFL combine. He may not be ready for Ohio State’s pro day in a few weeks. No last minute chances to impress scouts and GMs.
Going to Ohio State delayed the start of his NFL career by several years, will cost him several million dollars because he’ll be drafted lower than he otherwise would be, and may not have adequately prepared him for league play.
Whitfield, again, this time quoted by NBC from an ESPN interview: “There’s been two main areas we’re trying to work with with Cardale. His footwork, for one, has been under construction since he landed in San Diego. Bringing him from the shotgun up under center, just the mechanics of coming out with the center exchange, the first step from under center, three steps, five steps, seven-step drops.”.
Gee, you’d think someone would have taught them those things in, I don’t know, the 78 years he’s been in college?
Great job, Ohio State coaching staff.
Maybe Dwayne Haskins should have thought twice before making the biggest mistake of his life. It’s okay, though, if he works hard and gets that Ohio State degree, he should be supremely qualified for work at a least one internationally known establishment.
Update: A UPI article notes that Cardale is currently projected as a 4th or 5th round draft pick.