The emergence of Cardale Jones, from Ohio State’s third-string QB to its savior during the Buckeyes’ title run, was a fascinating story to me, and many others, last season.
However, what was even more fascinating was that some indicated that he was a near-certain first-rounder (maybe even a top-10 pick), and there was plenty of buzz that Jones mulled entering the ’15 draft following his three-game ‘career’ (Big Ten Championship plus two games in the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship) at the end of last season.
It looks like such speculation was premature. After a series of mediocre performances, OSU head coach Urban Meyer is weighing a change at quarterback. Now that Jones has shown he’s human, I reached out to several scouts on where they saw him going last fall. I got five responses. They were pretty much in line with what I thought — that no matter what he’d done in three games, it was just three games. Of course, one of the scouts expressed his belief that Jones had done enough to get him drafted well above where he belonged, based on the ‘wow’ factor.
- “I have no idea because it was pretty much a moot point last year. Talk is one thing, but it’s hard to justify taking anybody in the first round with only three starts. Obviously, he ended last year better than he’s begun this year. With all that being said, I think that at the end of the day, he is what he is with a whole lot of speculation to write about.”
- “Anybody that suggests they knew where he would have gone last year is crazy. The games are obviously the biggest piece of the evaluation and he had just three games. No medical. No time with the kid. So much unknown – on all players until they go thru the full evaluation process.”
- “4th-5th. I wasn’t that impressed with him last year.”
- “3rd QB taken in the draft (presumably after Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston), based on three-game resume. (You have to) come out when you are HOT.”
- “I don’t know enough about him to say. I guess that most of the people who were talking last year were doing it off TV scouting, whether they were (draft) analysts or scouts.”
Based on what my friends in evaluation say, Jones would most likely have been very disappointed if he had left expecting to go in the first 32 picks.
To me, the biggest takeaway is that actual scouts’ views of a player’s prospects differ greatly from what you can find on the Web. But by now, if you read this blog regularly, you probably already knew that.