2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Ohio State QB Cardale Jones

College Football: Ohio State Cardale Jones (12) in action vs Hawaii at Ohio Stadium. Columbus, OH 9/12/2015 CREDIT: Andrew J. Weber (Photo by Andrew J. Weber /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X159934 TK1 )

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

A look at another quarterback: Ohio State’s Cardale Jones.

#12 Cardale Jones/QB Ohio St: 6’5 253

The Good

– Huge frame, Cam Newton build
– Excellent arm, probably maxes out at around 65 yards, able to drive the ball downfield on the move or from an unsound base
– Shows proper weight transfer when throwing from a conventional base, able to create power on his throws
– Athlete, able to extend the play outside the pocket and scrambling downfield
– Size/mass makes him difficult to bring down, able to move the pile and run over players on the run, mobility
– Successful albeit short career, a winner

The Bad

– Incredibly raw in playing time and tape
– Not anticipatory, throws to open receivers after they’ve made their break, ball comes out late and can allow defender to close on the ball
– Accuracy on intermediate routes is poor and the ball is routinely thrown behind
– Does not have a feel for the pocket, leaves before he needs to, and too often runs himself into pressure
– Has to feel edge pressure better and hitch up into the pocket more often
– Shotgun/pistol based offense, no work under center
– Older than typical prospect, will turn 24 in September


– Only 11 career starts, 8 in 2015
– Career: 2323 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs
– 4.81 40, 36 inch vertical at Combine
– Won 2014 National Championship game, 16/23 for 242 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT

Tape Breakdown

If you even have a casual attachment to the draft, you probably have a pretty good idea of the type of player Cardale Jones is. Big arm, flashes talent, but health hazard raw.

There’s no question he has a huge arm that he displays even when he’s throwing from an uncomfortable base or on the move. Pressure, off his back foot, Jones is still able to put this ball in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.

He is almost the same size as Cam Newton and might even have a bulkier frame. Uses it to his advantage. Tough guy to bring down and on this play against Maryland, punishes the defender along the sideline.

But when I look at the positives, that’s the bulk of what I see. Big arm, big size. So many issues. Granted, that is partially expected with a player who has had so little playing time, and a lack of consistent time at that, but it doesn’t make it any easier to justify.

Don’t let his 62% completion rate fool you. His accuracy is inconsistent to poor. Against Penn State, he misses one of the easiest throws you can make, sailing this ball in the flat.

Third and 8 and a chance to give Ezekiel Elliott the ball in space? Gotta give your guy a chance.

I can’t isolate the problem, whether it’s his foot not pointing the right way or his hip not opening up, but too often, he’s throwing behind receivers on intermediate crossing patterns.

Dig route to Mike Thomas he has to reach back for.

But the biggest issue with Jones is his current inability to make anything resembling an anticipatory throw. Every throw is late, after the receiver has broken off. Not hitting open spots or reading coverages and knowing what will be available.

Third and nine. Jones knows he has this throw. MIKE dropping into the middle hole. Slot corner in the flat. CB outside leverage. After coming off the flat, Jones waits for the receiver to show the numbers before getting the ball out. Gives the corner the time to get on top of the route and break it up.

NFL quarterbacks have to trust what they see and hit open spots. Knowing he will become open, even if he isn’t at the release point. Jones has a ton of ground to make up here.

Though he’s mobile and keeps the play alive, he also invites pressure. Doesn’t climb the pocket all the time. Flushes the pocket before there is a need to and runs into pressure.

This isn’t actual pressure but Jones feels the rush, hitches, but then takes off to his right. No receivers in the area, all to the left, so he’s forced to take off for just a short gain. Climb the pocket, keep your eyes downfield, look for an option. The interior pocket was still firm. There was no need to run out of it.

I’ll admit I’ve gone back and forth on Jones. He does have potential and with Ben Roethlisberger hanging out for another 3-4 years, on the surface, Jones would be an ideal guy to groom. And hey, he’s earned Roethlisberger comparisons and is a Buckeye – it’s a match made.

But Jones isn’t the only raw quarterback in the league. They all are. All could benefit by sitting and learning. So is there a more compelling reason for Jones? And we’ve seen so little of so many traits, does the fact he is big and has an arm, not incredibly unique traits, make him a worthy candidate?

He’s also going to turn 24 in September. And if Roethlisberger plays four more years, Jones is now 28, and finishing up his rookie contract. What are the chances of getting a return on investment? Jones has to be “groomed” with little reps, simply figure it out, want to come back, and how long will you have him for? Mobile guys don’t last as long.

You know I’m generally against taking a quarterback. But if they’re going to take one, and, sigh, they probably will, grab someone else.

Projection: Late 3rd-Early 4th

Games Watched: at Virginia Tech, vs Maryland, vs Penn State

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About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Gluebucket

    I could see this turning into an Osweiler situation. We draft him; he sits behind Ben for 4 years, has moderate success in the few games he plays due to inevitable injuries, then signs a ridiculous contract with another team when his rookie contract is up.

  • falconsaftey43

    He’s Logan Thomas, huge frame, big arm, can make some great throws, but just a very low level of understanding how to play the position. Could he turn into the next Cam Newton, sure if the stars align. But it’s much more likely he hangs around for a little while as a backup, never develops and is out of the league in 4 years.

  • Superdriller316

    If they would draft him and after being in the system for 2 years and think he’s the guy going forward I would think the Steelers would follow their SOP and extend him with 2 years left on his rookie deal. That’s a lot of IFs though.

  • RickM

    Either let the bottom fall out when Ben leaves and then draft the QB of the future, or draft a QB high in 2017 or 2018. I know there are exceptions – most especially Wilson and Cousins. But taking a 3rd or 4th round QB who probably has a 90% chance of never being an NFL starting QB is very likely a waste of a draft choice. There are just too many other areas of need right now. Personally, I’d use a 1st or 2nd round draft pick in 2017 or 2018 when hopefully the QB classes are deeper.

    As for the Cardale Jones’ write-up above, it’s tough to believe they would even consider him given those deficiencies and his age.

  • steelburg

    I would have to agree. I would even go a step further and say Logan Thomas was probably a little ahead of him coming out last year purely off his understanding of the game which mostly comes from experience IMO.

  • srdan

    I want a qb to groom. I wouldn’t mind even a higher pick. 1st or second round. But i’m picturing that they will need this replacement in hopefully 4 years. I would prefer to pick a 20 year old and groom, so by the time he is 24 he plays. I like jones’ potential, but playing full time at 28 is best case scenario, and puts the team at the same crossroads too soon after that. Obviously all this is looking through rosy glasses.

  • SteelersDepot

    Can only extend those players after year 3 of their rookie deal per CBA

  • Michael James

    Honestly I wouldn’t take a QB this year. Ben has, by all accounts, at least 4 very good years in the tank and I think sitting 4 years on the bench is just too much. I think it’s a much better idea to build a strong defensive and offensive core, so that you can draft a QB in 2018, let him sit 2 years and then take over with the rest of the team in excellent shape.

  • Slab

    Put me in the “no thanks” category. it is the rare, rare player that is better in the pros than he was in college. If he couldn’t win the job in OSU, it’s very unlikely he’ll every start in Pittsburgh.

  • Brian Miller

    Would Rather Have Driscoll, Allen, or Adams. Maybe even Sudfeld.

  • dennisdoubleday

    I agree with you. I see him as Landry Jones, without the passing accuracy. Heck, he lost the starting job in his senior year. Inability to anticipate breaks and inability to feel the pass rush are deadly at the next level. Guys like the two Jones look good because they play on a dominating team.

  • dennisdoubleday

    It’s too soon for a developmental QB, anyway. Wait for a better QB year.

  • The argument for drafting a QB as I see it is to have one or more young guys on the roster that conceivably have upside to be a good (like top 10) starter. If you think you get 4 more years of Ben, then the sooner you can knock the journeymen off the roster with a player who could eventually start, the better chance you have of making the post-Ben transition. If you draft a guy in 2016 and by 2018 you can let the backup vet go and add another young guy, then both of those guys will be under contract through the 2020 when you have to pick a guy to go with.

    I think looking at this as a choice between drafting one now -or- later is not how the team sees it. I think they intend to draft one now -and- later.

    If you don’t pick a guy now, and you pick a guy say in 2018, you’re not going to even trust him to be the backup before Ben retires and he’ll have very little playing time to get that evaluation of his potential. It’s a very long view of the position but I can see the logic – why take 1 shot at his replacement if you can take 2 or 3? I’d personally try to find a kid who’s accurate and smart, but maybe average athlete and you can get in the 6th round then worse case you get a capable game manager who can win without putting the team on his back.

  • harding36

    Ugh, not a fan. In fact, I can’t think of a single example of a QB whose accuracy improved in the NFL. To me, Jones is a 6th or 7th rounder, at best. He has some really atrocious tape out there. That said, someone will probably pull the trigger in the 3rd or 4th. If it’s the Steelers, I’m gonna need a new remote.

  • Rotten Sircus

    He’s no Cam Newton ..!

  • Joseph Duffy

    Cardale sounds too much like Kordell, phonetically not talent wise.

  • LucasY59

    Only reason I would take Cardale is if they dont plan on keeping Landry after this yr (and I would only take him if there isnt a BPA at a postion of need in the 4th, which seems like there will be) I would much rather take him in the 6th (since he is so raw) but some team that is desperate will probably take him before that. (a team could even take him before the 4th)

  • Superdriller316

    Forgot about that

  • Donald Tillman

    I like the guy, as a matter of fact, he reminds me of Ben except Cardale went to a top 5 school and Big Ben went to the MAC. Same skill set and maturity, but Cardale’s arm is a little better. Offense could definitely remain the exact same. If I’m the Steelers I would make this happen by trading down.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Seems like a poor mans Jamarcus Russell. Could he be a TE conversion candidate?.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I’m intrigued by his size and arm strength and that’s about it. His inexperience at qb is scaring me away.

  • Matt Manzo

    If he fell to the 6th, and we stocked everything else, I might be interested! He definitely needs a few years of development.