Name: Josh Jones
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height: 6′ 7″
Weight: 310 lbs.
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Josh Jones has a balanced athletic profile with about average height and weight for the position. At the combine, he ranked among the top 30 offensive linemen during every drill in which he participated. Jones did especially well in the drills that rely on explosiveness such as the vertical and broad jumps.
On tape, his ability to get out in space quickly is apparent. Jones moves very well for his size. If anything, with a 6’7” frame, 310 lbs. is on the leaner side. This could allow him to bulk up and get stronger as he prepares to enter the NFL.
In terms of technique, pass protection is Jones’ biggest weakness. In college, he relied on pancake blocks rather often. While he did demonstrate success with this technique, that may not translate when he moves up the next level. In the NFL, defensive linemen are bigger and stronger than your average college player at that position. Therefore, the pancake block will likely be less effective in the pros.
In order to develop into a starting-caliber tackle, Jones will need to improve his footwork, especially in tight spaces. At times, his base is too narrow, which could cause him to get knocked down on pushed back with relative ease. An overpowering NFL defensive lineman with a strong bull rush will likely get past Jones. Strength and proper pass-protection stance are the two aspects that Jones most needs to improve upon in order to become a starting-caliber edge protector.
Even though I mentioned that his footwork needs improvement, Jones is still capable of mirroring opponents with success. In college, he was able to handle fast pass rushers fairly well. Sometimes that means walking a defender past the quarterback. Because Joens is so adept at getting a quick jump off the line of scrimmage and moving out in space with ease, he sometimes overcommits to the outside. This is dangerous because it could lead to the defender having an easier path to the quarterback to the inside.
Run blocking is the stronger side of Jones’ game. He is capable of making key blocks on the line of scrimmage or out in space. Jones is at his best when he is the aggressor seeking out a defender to block. He is much more likely to push his man back then in pass-protection where he will more likely be the one getting knocked down.
His run-blocking repertoire is much more diversified than his pass-protection moves. Jones can block tight to the line, or out in space. He can get to the flat fairly easily on screens but is also just as adept at moving to the second level and getting in front of runners to help create even more space. With his mobility, Jones is a natural at pulling but also excels in the trap game when blocks are tight to the line of scrimmage.
Furthermore, Jones consistently demonstrated an excellent tendency in his college tape. He will chip block with either a guard or a tight end. Afterward, he moves quickly and efficiently to the second level in order to seek out a defender to engage. It is encouraging to see such a good habit already developed.
However, one bad habit that shows up in Jones’ game is his tendency to dive block. Yes, at times when pulling, that type of block can be effective if an opponent is too far to reach through conventional methods. However, the dive block can be problematic if Jones does not make contact with his target. Worse, he could potentially take another teammate out of the play and leave his running back short two blockers. If he stays on his feet and minimizes the use of dive blocks, Jones could be ready to contribute to an NFL run game from day one.
Why Jones for the Packers?
Could Green Bay target Josh Jones with the first-round pick? Perhaps. In a recent one-round mock draft, on behalf of the Packers, I selected Jones at 30th overall. Green Bay has their starting five offensive linemen in place. Therefore, even while using a first-round investment on Jones, the rookie would likely not crack that starting lineup out of the gate. However, Jones would present an upgrade at the swing tackle spot. Fair or not, Alex Light struggled mightily in his lone game action of 2019 replacing Bryan Bulaga. Jones has far more upside than Light or any of the Packers’ current depth options at offensive tackle.
Jones fits in with Matt LaFleur‘s zone-blocking scheme. His ability to get out in space will certainly help the run game. While pass-protection could be an initial area of concern, Jones’s presence would allow for the offensive line to get younger and more athletic.
The newly signed Ricky Wagner is 30 years old. While he could be a solid contributor in the short term, the future at right tackle still up in the air. Taking Jones would allow the rookie to develop and improve the technical aspects of his game while working behind a longtime NFL veteran. The best-case scenario is that Jones is part of a legitimate camp competition for the starting right tackle spot. Worse case is that he never becomes more than a backup swing tackle or run-game specialist.
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