As I sat down to watch the Cardale Jones press conference I couldn't help but feel like I was in a win-win situation. Generally speaking, there are two reasons, other their fandom, that we watch sports. They are to see the unseen and to witness greatness. Sometimes these two things are one and the same, sometimes they are not. Had Jones decided to enter the NFL draft he would have done so after starting no more than 3 games at quarterback at the college level. Three incredibly impressive games, but three games nonetheless. What Cardale did was unprecedented and without question one of the more incredible feats in sports history. If he can put on a performance like that coming off the bench cold to commence his college career as a starting quarterback, there is no doubt what lies ahead next year can only be bigger and better things. While it would have been mind-blowing to see an underclassmen go pro after being a complete afterthought a little over a month ago, the right decision was for him to stay in school.
Will Jones' draft stock ever be higher than it is now? I would argue yes. In fact, barring any career altering injury, I would say there is only a small chance it could possibly get lower. I think the concern on the minds of most is that Cardale Jones has two proven starting quality quarterbacks to contend with. With his decision to stay in school, I wouldn't put too much stock into Braxton Miller returning to Columbus. Even so, all things being equal, Jones has the most talent of any of the three quarterbacks on Ohio State's depth chart. He's got the build and strength of a linebacker with the elusiveness and speed of a running back. He has an arm the other two couldn't even dream of. He was fitting passes into windows that made you wonder which quarterback playing in the National Championship game was set to go #1 overall in the draft. Prior to the decision to stay in school, Jones was likely slotted to go in the 3rd or 4th round of the draft. What we saw from him throughout the first three games of his college career was 1st round potential. Potential that will most likely be fulfilled given another year of starting experience in college. The difference between being a 1st round pick and a 4th round pick is far greater, both monetary and otherwise, than the difference between being a 4th round pick and a 6th round pick. What's the worst thing that happens next year? Jones loses his starting job? Regardless of what happens, NFL scouts will salivating at the chance to draft Jones, based on potential alone.
The alternative would have been to go to the NFL unprepared. As many of those who follow the sport know, that couldn't be a bigger mistake. While a quarterback with the potential of Jones may be given more leeway in terms of time to develop, the NFL certainly isn't a business built around patience. Teams that draft quarterbacks high generally draft them because they need a quarterback now, not three years down the road. The limited number of upper echelon quarterbacks in the NFL prove one thing; It is not easy to play the position at the highest level. Nobody is stepping onto that stage and succeeding after three starts at the college level. Most drafted quarterbacks have an entire year of starting, at the very least. Hell, some have an entire career's worth of footage to judge off of, and 9 times out of 10 they still don't pan out. How many times are 4th round quarterbacks selected, and no more than two years later they are out of the league? I remember a few years back, the Saints selected running back Antonio Pittman, from the very same Ohio State University, and he was cut before the season even started.
While I believe in Jones' potential at the next level, I certainly don't think he is ready to display it now. Yes, he was a key contributor to the Buckeyes' National Championship, but I wouldn't say he put the team on his back. Zeke Elliot put up back to back 200+ yard performances in the college football playoff. Everyone knows a quarterback's best friend is a good running game. There were times where I watched Cardale take too long to go through his progression. For as impressive as some of his runs were, you won't be seeing him bowling over defensive linemen in the NFL. The kid has a lot to learn, and that is no slight to him. Everyone that wants to play the most difficult position in professional sports has a lot to learn. As a sports fan, I want to see the best players on the biggest stage. While Cardale Jones' decision doesn't guarantee that will happen, it greatly increases his chances of having a long and prestigious career. For once it was nice to see a kid not get blinded by an immediate payday.
Best believe he'll be back with a purpose next year, and that purpose ain't to play no school...
Plus, when you rock this shirt, to your own press conference, I refuse to hate on any decision you make…..