Ronald Jones II, USC
Weight: 205 pounds
40-yard dash: N/A
Vertical: 36.5 inches
Broad Jump: N/A
There was some debate over whether or not Jones was big enough heading into the Combine, though weighing in at 205 pounds silenced a lot of those concerns. He’s not a big back like Saquon Barkley or Derrius Guice, but he’s as elusive as they come. While running the 40-yard dash at the Combine, he re-pulled his hamstring that had bothered him weeks prior, forcing him to pull out of the remaining events.
Jones played some of the best competition while at USC, but it didn’t stop him from producing. He finished his three-year college career averaging 6.12 yards per carry with 42 total touchdowns, including 20 in his junior year. He was used as a workhorse, too, totaling at least 18 touches in 10-of-13 games. Jones is a three-down back who should be able to walk in and contribute right from the get-go.
Vision/Patience: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It’s a weird thing with Jones, as he’s so quick with his moves, he’s able to wait until the last second to make them. While this can be a really good thing when in one-on-one situations, it’s tough for his blockers out in front, as he will sometimes go into the back of them because he waited to long to make them aware of what he was doing/where he was going. He does have above-average vision, often putting himself in the best position to succeed, but there are little things that can improve. Good luck tackling him in the open field. There’s not much to say for his patience, as the USC offensive line wasn’t exactly one that he was able to be patient with. On top of that, he looks like he’s shot out of a cannon when the ball is snapped, which wouldn’t help him appear patient. With that being said, when they’d run the ball off tackle, he’d ensure he saw the hole before cutting back up the field.
Elusiveness (twitch, juke, tackle breaking): 4.5 out of 5 stars
He’s likely the most elusive running back in the class, as he doesn’t seem to lose any speed on his cuts, which are disgusting (in a good way). He’s the type of running back you’ll see on highlight films breaking ankles because of his jump cuts. Although he’s not a power back, he’s not an easy tackle. It’s rare that you’ll see him brought down by an ankle tackle, and you’ll often see him breaking multiple tackles on one run. The reason he fails to get the complete five stars is because he’ll sometimes wait too long before making his move, allowing the defender to close in.
Speed: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The burst is apparent right off the start, as Jones has that “on-demand” speed that most wish they had access to. It’s something that I noticed on tape with Alvin Kamara last year. It didn’t necessarily matter how fast they ran the 40-yard dash, because their speed is apparent on the field. You rarely seen a player on the college level moving the way Jones did, and that’s something that’ll translate well to the NFL.
Pass-catching/Pass-protection: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He’s a willing blocker, but that doesn’t mean he’s a great pass protector. He’s not the biggest back, so he’ll be overwhelmed with linebackers at times. He wasn’t used very much in the passing game, but from the tape I’ve seen, he’s more than capable as a receiver out of the backfield. In fact, I believe this can be looked at as one of his biggest strengths on the next level. Get him in space and let him win one-on-one situations, particularly in the screen game. Provided a team doesn’t ask him to stay in and block a whole lot, he should be able to stay on the field as a three-down back.
Balance: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Let’s just say that 99 percent of people would fall down while trying to cut the way Jones does. Granted, he’s an athlete made to move that way, but don’t take it for granted. He does run a bit upright at times, which gives him a slight knock in this category, but he also knows how to get low when necessary – on the goal-line. Players of his stature don’t often get a ton of carries on the goal-line, but if his production at USC was an indication of his ability, Jones should be given the chance with his future team. He knows how to get skinny while lowering his head into the trenches, making him a very capable back in the red zone.
Potential Landing Spot
The dream landing spot was the 49ers, though seeing Jerick McKinnon land a $30 million deal, it ended that dream really quick. With all the dominos falling in free agency, it’s hard to project a landing spot, though the Bills wouldn’t be a bad landing spot. Sure, they just signed Chris Ivory, but he’s just a depth chart guy. LeSean McCoy is nearing the end of the line, so if Jones were to follow in someone’s footsteps, he wouldn’t be the worst guy to learn from. We know the Bills want to run the ball (382 times in 2017), so why not invest in the future at the position?
When making comparisons, it’s important that you know the purpose of them. It’s to give you an idea as to the type of running back that player moves/plays like. In Jones’ case, it’s Alvin Kamara. He’s a bit smaller than Kamara, but has the on-demand speed, is rarely arm-tackled, and almost no one gets a clean hit on him because of his elusiveness. The knock on Kamara coming out was that he couldn’t handle a full workload, which is why Tennessee didn’t give him tons of touches. Not only did Kamara put that debate to an end, it should give players like Jones a bit more optimism. While I’m not saying he’ll produce the historic way that Kamara did, in the right offense, he will be a weapon.