Cardale Jones has elected to remain an Ohio State Buckeye, announcing Thursday that he will return to Columbus for his redshirt junior season.
Many people believe this was the smart, no-brainer thing to do. SI NFL writer Doug Farrar, however, is not one of those people. Farrar thought Jones’ best option was to declare for the NFL Draft and try his hand at the next level.
“It was kind of weird,” Farrar said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The point I was making was that the bloom could come off the rose very easily. He could sit for that year in 2015. He could play a minimal amount.”
As of now, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller are slated to return to Ohio State, meaning the Buckeyes could open the season with three Heisman Trophy candidates under center.
Then again, it’d be hard for Urban Meyer to sit Jones, who led the Buckeyes to their first national championship since 2002 by beating No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 Oregon – by a combined score of 143-55.
“I don’t think it’s a three-hit wonder,” Farrar said. “I think he legitimately has these traits that could make him NFL-ready. My argument was you could put him on the Cardinals in a vertical passing game with a head coach like Bruce Arians (and) kind of do a developmental thing for a couple years. You throw him at Denver. If you’re the Broncos and you’re staring down the barrel of Peyton Manning’s mortality, based on college tape, would you rather have Cardale Jones or Brock Osweiler? I think a lot of teams were having those discussions.
“The fact is, he has a lot to learn,” Farrar continued, “and I’m sure he’ll learn with a really good coaching staff. Obviously the team has ridiculous talent on both sides of the ball. He’ll retain a lot of it. But I didn’t think (the lack of experience was a big deal). He’s an outlier. He’s a special case. If he did go to the NFL, I don’t think it would be the all-fire disaster that some people were predicting.”
Farrar also doesn’t believe NFL teams would have passed on Jones due to his inexperience.
“Matt Cassel eventually worked himself into a major contract, and he never played a game at USC,” Farrar said. “There have been guys through history who have not played a lot in college. I think had he really owned it in interviews and at the combine, pro days – I think he would have gone in the third round. Third or fourth round.”
On the flipside, let’s say Jones starts next year and leads the Buckeyes to another national championship – or at least performs well in leading them back to the College Football Playoff. He could be a top-five draft pick.
“I think he has that ability,” Farrar said. “If he can put some knowledge around it and some game experience around it and round out his skill set, (the sky’s the limit). We’ve seen him make 40-yard stick throws, we’ve seen him run all over the field, we’ve seen him truck a nose guard. He’s a special player. It’ll be very interesting to see what he does with his 2015 season for sure.”