NAME: Josh Jones
POSITION: Offensive Tackle
SCHOOL: University of Houston
Josh Jones is a first-round talent in a top-heavy offensive line draft class. As many as four tackles may be selected in the top 10 picks, but Jones is not likely to be among them. He was a four-year starter at Houston, and he has a future at left tackle in the NFL. Why would the Colts use their first pick (34th overall) on a backup to Anthony Castonzo? It’s all about potential.
Jones is a former high school basketball player who took up football late. It was a smart choice. He filled out his long limbs and added good weight, which he still carries extremely well. Houston was able to keep him local despite offers from Big XII schools, and his career blossomed after redshirting as a true freshman. Even though he tips the scales at well over 300 pounds, he is well-built and could add more muscle once he begins a professional strength training program.
He grew up loving basketball but now @JoshJones_23 is on his way to being a @NFL 1st round draft pick. @UHCougarFB @UHCougars @BUSHHS_FOOTBALL @bushbasketball @abc13houston @abc13sports pic.twitter.com/zkhz3XyJ0i
— Bob Slovak (@BobSlovak13) April 13, 2020
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One knock against Jones is his injury history. He started all 13 games as a freshman and junior, but he played in only 10 as a sophomore and nine last year as a senior. To be fair, he isn’t exactly Bob Sanders, but teams want a return on investment when they draft a player so highly. Considering that last season’s offensive line started all 16 games together and logged over 1000 snaps apiece, durability and availability are key. If he can prove that he is 100 percent now, he may not even be on the board at 34. In fact, he probably will be gone in the 15-25 range. If he slides, though, expect Chris Ballard to leap at the chance to snag Jones.
Ballard and his scouting staff have avowed the importance of the Senior Bowl since they arrived in Indianapolis. The Colts have selected at least one participant in every draft during Ballard’s tenure. Jones acquitted himself well in Mobile, taking reps at both tackle spots and showing off a nastiness to finish blocks on the ground. Castonzo is a technician and an excellent pass blocker, but Jones may be a better run blocker already. If he can sink his hips consistently, he will be a monster.
Josh Jones is burying linebackers 15 yards downfield pic.twitter.com/1vVidQJRzY
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, left tackle is not a position of need at the moment. Castonzo is signed through 2021, and there are gaping holes at other spots on the roster. Ballard, though, has mentioned his affinity for linemen and his regret for not drafting more “projects” to develop over a year or two when he had the chance. Jones could serve as the swing tackle now that Joe Haeg is gone, and he could step in to replace Castonzo in 2022. The best general managers draft with one eye on the present and one on the future. Ballard is among the best, which makes Jones a viable option if he slides out of the first round.