Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
UH tackle Josh Jones has video conferences with NFL teams including Texans, Patriots, 49ers, Colts, Eagles, Chargers, Cardinals, Buccaneers, Bears, Ravens, Vikings, Jets and Packers @UHCougarFB @JoshJones_23 https://t.co/Y4sMkXidDE
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 2, 2020
Due to the ongoing coronavrius pandemic, NFL teams are currently prohibited from meeting with prospects in-person but can still communicate through video or telephone calls.
The 6’5”, 319 pound senior offensive tackle is widely considered a first round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, after starting 45 career games at left tackle for the Cougars—earning American Athletic All-Conference 2nd-Team honors in 2019.
He only allowed one sack during his senior campaign.
Jones had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, as he may have arguably been the best offensive tackle in attendance—winning a North Squad Practice Player of the Week award:
Don’t agree with popular take that this is an elite OT class. Lots of good prospects but none are lock top-10 talents or future Pro Bowlers. Not a Joe Thomas or Tyron Smith in this group. Off tape, @UHCougarFB Josh Jones belongs in mix with 4 juniors everyone is talking about. pic.twitter.com/6m0S0obv3P
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 27, 2020
#Houston OT Josh Jones is the type of tackle that has tremendous upside because of the little subtle things that he already does.
Watch the quick allusion with his left hand to force the DE to reveal his plan of attack prematurely: pic.twitter.com/8d1yuUM4Is
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) January 23, 2020
Jones posted a 5.27 forty time, 24 bench press reps, 28.5 inch vertical, and 109.0 inch broad jump at the NFL Combine.
That gives him a SPARQ rating (measuring overall athleticism) in the 44.7% NFL percentile (which was the 18th best among all offensive lineman in his draft class).
On the field, Jones looks like a long, athletic tackle prospect with good lateral movement in pass protection, the quickness to get to the second level of defenses in run blocking, and the nastiness to finish off would-be tacklers into the ground.
He projects best in a zone-blocking scheme, as move-oriented run blocker—with his length, athleticism, and ability to play in space.
That being said, Jones is still a bit raw. He needs to improve his overall hand placement and footwork technique—but it’s all coachable at the next level.
Here’s some more ‘quick hits’ on Jones:
Watching Houston LT Josh Jones and it’s no wonder he’s having such a dominant week at the Senior Bowl. He’s got the film to back it up. pic.twitter.com/Or09NiMyvP
— Robbie Duncan (@RobbieDuncanOL) January 23, 2020
Josh Jones, OT, #Houston:
• Springy pass sets (+ athlete)
• ++ Upside
• Strong hands/grip at the POA
• Huge factor in the screen game
• Plays through the echo of the whistle
• GREAT fit in a zone blocking scheme pic.twitter.com/wnTGIhWbeO
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 3, 2020
The best opponent Josh Jones faced this past season was Oklahoma (I don’t think Houston faced any great edge rusher prospects all year) and he ate them alive. Physically dominant performance, especially in pass protection.
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 21, 2020
Josh Jones, OT, Houston: Hes just crazy talented in pass pro. Feet, balance, quickness, pop in his hands, length. His technique isn’t always perfect and he still finds ways to get wins. Finishes too. Footwork needs to improve in run game. I think he goes Round 1
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 26, 2020
I watched a lot of Houston OT Josh Jones today and would not be surprised if he goes in the first round at all
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) February 5, 2020
Houston OT Josh Jones said Lane Johnson is the player he models his game after. Studies him often. Says vs Oklahoma is his best game tape
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 26, 2020
Josh Jones reminds me a lot of Andre Dillard. Tall, athletic, easy moving pass blocker.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 21, 2020
After this week, I think you’re going to see Houston OT Josh Jones in almost every first-round mock draft.
Had him in my top 25 in November.
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) January 23, 2020
Now, the Colts could obviously use a long-term answer at starting left tackle, as veteran bookend Anthony Castonzo seriously contemplated retirement earlier this offseason before re-signing with Indianapolis on a new two-year deal.
The Colts still have a little time to find their future starting left tackle, but general manager Chris Ballard doesn’t want to wait too long and be caught without a backup plan entirely.
The team still has to find its next franchise quarterback too, so finding both a future starting quarterback and a left tackle in one offseason could be problematic. The Colts may be wise to fill at least one of those long-term holes this offseason—saving the other for 2021.
Jones is the type of lengthy, athletic tackle prospect that could grow into a Pro Bowl caliber starting left tackle for the Colts. He excels in pass protection, and his ability to get to the second tier of defenses in run blocking would continue to allow the Colts offensive line to be incredibly dynamic with its pulls, wham blocks, and overall screen game.
He also has shown the nastiness of finishing off blocks into the ground that would fit right in with ringleader All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson’s 5-man ‘play through the whistle’ squad.
Still a bit raw in his overall technique, Jones could benefit from a year or two of seasoning behind Castonzo—learning from one of the game’s best before fully taking over.
That being said, Jones looks like a safe bet to be a first round pick right now, and the Colts—only picking as early as #34 overall, may have to trade up to actually snag him.