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Scouting the 2018 NFL Draft - Ronald Jones II, RB, Southern California

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NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency having died down and the calendar flipped from March to April, that could only mean one thing: it’s draft season!

We have already broken down a number of the top prospects, including the top quarterbacks (check out all of our reports here). Now only about three weeks away from the start of the draft, it’s time to get things rolling again. So, today let’s look at USC running back Ronald Jones II.

Personal/Physical:

Born: August 3, 1997 (age 21 on opening week)

Hometown: McKinney, TX

Height: 5’11

Weight: 200

40 yard dash: 4.65

Vertical: 36.5

Full Measurables Chart:

via mockdraftable.com

Do keep in mind that Jones reportedly injured his hamstring while running his only 40 attempt at the Combine.

Career Stats:

2015: 153 attempts, 987 yards (6.5 per carry, 70.5 per game), 8 touchdowns - 7 receptions, 39 yards, 1 touchdown - 1 fumble (not lost)

2016: 177 attempts, 1082 yards (6.1 per carry, 83.2 per game), 12 touchdowns - 11 receptions, 76 yards, 1 touchdown - 1 fumble (lost)

2017: 261 attempts, 1550 yards (5.9 per carry, 119.2 per game), 19 touchdowns - 14 receptions, 187 yards, 1 touchdown - 0 fumbles

Positives:

  • Strong career durability
  • Very young prospect; great trait at the running back position which tends to favor youth as much or more than any position
  • Incredible ball security
  • Impressive short area quickness
  • Wins on his first cut with great consistency
  • Powerful burst up the middle
  • Strong legs and feet; avoids ankle tackles and will not get tripped up often
  • Will consistently take advantage of wins by the offensive line; won’t miss the big opening
  • Some work needed in pass protection but willing and experienced; did well as a downfield blocker
  • His knack for converting medium-range first downs (~4-8 yards to go) really popped out; all-around good nose for the sticks

Negatives:

  • Limited receiving production first 2 years; but did boost yardage in final season with a good amount of big catches
  • Yards per carry declined slightly year over year with increased workload
  • Pass protecting experience/potential mentioned, but gave up a few key pressures. Can sharpen that aspect
  • Not nearly as effective outside the tackles as inside
  • Sometimes too quick to put his head down and drive instead of searching for a hole to extend the play

Film

Jones’ bread and butter is hitting the hole with authority to churn out first downs; and not just in smashmouth power situations. As mentioned earlier, he has a knack for converting long firsts. Here are a pair of situations where Jones takes the handoff out of the gun and has enough burst out of one cut upfield to pick up the needed yardage.

Jones did not amass much receiving production throughout his career, but set a career high with 187 receiving yards in his junior year, doing it on only 14 receptions. His 13.4 yards per reception average in 2017 was more than double his previous career average, as he showcased the potential to make an impact as a receiver with a bunch of chunk plays like these:

At his absolute best, Jones is making multiple defenders miss with his quickness, bursting upfield, and dodging tacklers down low with his leg strength rather than winning with speed. Here are a couple examples.

I don’t think Jones generally looked very good outside of the tackles, but here he certainly does. This play is also another demonstration of his great ability to run through low tackle attempts.

I love to analyze yards per attempt and the ilk, and I absolutely believe you can learn a lot by looking at the numbers. However, it’s simply false to think that stats tell the whole story. Every yard is not created equal, and this play is an epitome of that notion. I love this first down effort.

I mentioned how Jones showcased some potential as a blocker. Here (you can see him coming in motion towards the right side of the formation) he explodes into his block upfield and punishes his man.

He has the aggression and got the opportunities in pass protection, but as you’ll see below he can get better in that phase of the game. Here he is late to help the tight end on the strong side and contributes to allowing a sack.

Here the 1-tech (lined up between the center and the guard) defender attacks the left guard’s outside shoulder with lots of room to operate as the left tackle made a very deep drop at the snap. Jones initially looks to cover the gap created by these circumstances, but it looks like he either pulled out for some reason or was just simply overpowered. Either way, that defender creates the pressure that leads to a Sam Darnold interception, and Jones probably should have been there to prevent it.

Draft Grade: 2nd Round

I am not a big fan of drafting running backs in the first round unless they are extremely unique; and I don’t feel that highly about Jones as a prospect. However, if the Jets still had their second round selections, I wouldn’t be upset about selecting him with either of those picks, and I’d be pretty ecstatic if they somehow grabbed him in the third round. He was highly productive in a power conference with increased production year over year, is a young prospect (a trait I love, especially at this position), and is an aggressive downhill runner with lateral quickness to boot.

I think new Jet Isaiah Crowell is a really solid comparison in terms of style. If you read my statistical profile of Crowell, you know that he is the prototype boom-or-bust back, picking up big plays at elite rates but also getting stuffed at a very high rate. Jones’ pounding between-the-tackles style combined with his strong lower body and quickness should produce a lot of big plays, but a lot of stuffs as well, which I did notice while watching his games against tougher opponents. Another link to Crowell is his plus ball security - a great trait possessed by both.

If the team that drafts Jones is confident enough in his all-around game to make him their every-down back, he should at the very least be an enforcer and a big play threat, but he could potentially be a rich man’s Crowell - which is a pretty darn good running back to build an offense around.

Poll

Where do you rank Jones in this RB class?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    #1
    (3 votes)
  • 15%
    #2
    (31 votes)
  • 29%
    #3
    (61 votes)
  • 25%
    #4
    (53 votes)
  • 18%
    #5
    (38 votes)
  • 8%
    #6 or lower
    (18 votes)
204 votes total Vote Now