RB Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ronald Jones is entering the NFL after three productive seasons at USC where he saw increases in every single major offensive category each year. Even as a freshman and sophomore, Jones averaged 165 carries, 1,034 yards, and 10 touchdowns despite not being the true lead back. Once his junior season began, Jones was named the starter and never looked back. He totaled 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns on 261 carries. Playing this well in the spotlight drastically moved his name up draft boards throughout the entire 2017 campaign.
The Scout’s Notes
Jones has a relatively thin build, standing at 5’11” 205 lbs. He shows great top-end speed and quick acceleration from the handoff. He is an upright runner who appears stiff and does not bend very well. Jones displays quick and efficient cuts and jukes while getting through the second level. He occasionally shows power and drive through contact, but this does not show consistently. There are many instances where he is taken down from first contact with defenders, leaving many potential yards on the field. He sees the field well and has good vision while finding holes and running lanes to fully utilize his home run ability. Mainly because of the offensive scheme, Jones was rarely used as a receiver in college, but he has reliable hands and has the ability to work out of the backfield on swing and wheel routes. He is reliable in pass protection but is a little stiff when adjusting to pass rushers, similar to that of his running style.
The Buccaneers were pegged as one of the premium landing spots for running backs once Doug Martin officially left town. Even with the more talented Derrius Guice still on the board, Tampa Bay selected Jones with the sixth pick of the second round. As of today it appears Jones is the bell cow runner in the offense, but in the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” Because Jones’ play style is more suited for 1B, committee-type role, do not be surprised if Tampa signs one of DeMarco Murray or CJ Anderson to come in and be the early down runner and allow Jones to punch the opposing defenses with his homerun ability. Even if the team signs another runner, expect Jones to contribute early and produce high-end RB3 fantasy numbers.
Bottom Line and NFL Comparison
Ronald Jones will never be a three down, all-inclusive running back, but expect him to flash his explosiveness in a Tevin Coleman-like role with the Buccaneers. As a player, Jones has a similar skillset and build to Jaguars running back Corey Grant. Though Grant has yet to prove himself in an NFL offense, he shows the same abilities and limitations as the newly acquired Tampa Bay product. With this being said, Jones would be a solid selection in the 1.08 range of 1QB dynasty rookie drafts.
The first play of this video shows how Ronald Jones would be best be utilized in the NFL. The play is an outside zone scheme to the right, run from the pistol formation. Every offensive lineman is responsible for pulling to his right and keeps his zone “clean.” Jones takes the handoff and is patient with the ball until he sees an opportunity to cut into the line and head upfield. He is able to burst through the hole and shake two defenders using both a cut and spin to make his way past the first down marker. Should he be able to do this in Tampa Bay, Jameis Winston is going to have more space down field as opposing safeties will begin to creep into the box due to Jones’ burst and explosiveness.