Ronald Jones II was in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Panini Pop Warner Skills Clinic. Panini, the exclusive trading card partner of the NFL/NFLPA has been focused through the years of giving kids the opportunity to take part in Super Bowl festivities by participating in a Skills Clinic featuring NFL Players and top NFL Draft prospects. Full Press Coverage was able to spend a few minutes with Jones to talk about the upcoming NFL draft.
FPC Exclusive Interview: Ronald Jones II
Jones talked about how important the months leading up to the draft process are. Events like the combine, Pro days, and any sort of interaction with teams will affect where he winds up playing football over the next couple of years. He mentioned that he is still progressing his game, and trying to continue to shoot up draft boards
“I want to separate myself from the pack because I know its a deep class. I have to go out there at the combine and make a name for myself.” Jones said.
Jones also talked about his influences in the game as well. While he appreciated the Full Press Coverage comparison of his game to Dalvin Cook, he has his sights set high and is striving to emulate some of the best current running backs in the NFL.
“I like to watch Todd Gurley’s game a lot. Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott, all of those guys. They all are all so complete,” Jones added about the top backs in the NFL.
Jones was also quick to note the differences in their game and his. While he knows he has the talent to be a potential top 15 player in this NFL draft, he also knows there is one major area where these backs shine above his current skill set.
“Being able to catch out of the backfield more and stepping up in pass protection would give me that complete game,” Jones was quick to exclaim.
His weakness on tape is clearly his influence in the passing game. When watching Bell, Elliott, and Gurley, it is clear that all three have an influence in the passing game, even if it is just stepping up in pass protection from Elliott, as Jones mentioned. Jones understands where he has to get better and what separates him from the elites in the game.
Jones has shown the adversity to make these improvements from the ups and downs of playing at a major college program at USC. In a double-overtime slugfest with Texas, Ronald Jones was limited to 18 carries for 47 yards. However, he looks back on the game as a moment of growth, because he recalls making plays that did not show up on the stat sheet to put his mark on that game. Doing the little things led to a 56-yard reception for a touchdown to end the half that eased a lot of those frustrations.
“When I look back at the Texas game, that game went into Double OT,” Jones recalled. I didn’t have the greatest stat line, but I was able to make enough plays to help my team. That game, we overcame a lot of adversity.”
Speaking of pressure, there is early talk that the Steelers could entertain the idea of Ronald Jones in the first round if they are not satisfied with the discussions of Le’Veon Bell. If that were to happen, Jones would embrace jumping into a big pair of shoes left behind by Bell. Although, it really does not have to do with Bell.
“Uh Oh. (upon hearing the rumor of the Steelers drafting a running back) That would be crazy to end up playing again with my teammate JuJu (Smith-Schuster) so that would be intriguing. If that opportunity were there I would definitely be willing to step up to the plate.”
Speaking of a former teammate, Jones was able to play with quarterback Sam Darnold over the past two seasons and was able to get a feel for what he is as a quarterback. Darnold will be a divisive topic this draft season and Jones spoke glowingly about his teammate. Jones thinks that he has the charisma to make it in the NFL.
“His composure, he never gets rattled. He is a clutch performer as we saw in the Rose Bowl game and the Texas game. Time and time again when it comes down to it he is a game breaker.”
Jones is a game breaker as well, and if he does make that step in the passing game, he is a going to end up as a dangerous offensive threat in the NFL.