NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Ronald Jones II (Fantasy Football)
The 2018 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away and USC running back Ronald Jones II has been one of the most challenging players for me to wrap my brain around. Jones is a popular name when looking at the rookie running back class to be this year’s Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt, but if you’ve read my Blind Comparisons articles in the past, you would know that my favorite breakout running back is Sony Michel. With Jones’ ability as a runner and receiver he could be a sneaky gem in fantasy football drafts, but I’m also worried this Trojan is going to bust.
Jones was a bonafide stud at USC racking up 3,619 rushing yards on 591 carries (6.1 YPC) and 39 touchdowns on the ground, with also 32 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. In all three years with the Trojans, he totaled over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and nine plus touchdowns. His final year with USC is what is creating a lot of hype around Jones who carried the ball 261 times for 1,550 yards (5.9 YPC) and 19 touchdowns on the ground and added another 14 receptions, 187 yards, and a touchdown through the air. The tape matches the numbers for Jones which gets me and the fantasy football community jonesing for this Trojan, but also we need to be aware of the implications that could follow in case he disappoints.
I’ve been asked multiple times on Twitter (@MitchellRenz365) “what’s a good NFL comparison for [insert player name]?” This is an excellent question considering how elite rookie running backs have been and the uncertainty of how college players will translate into the NFL. Therefore, I wanted to write NFL Draft Blind Comparison articles. To read my others click the links below:
- NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Saquon Barkley (Fantasy Football)
- NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Derrius Guice (Fantasy Football)
- NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Sony Michel (Fantasy Football)
- NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Nick Chubb (Fantasy Football)
- NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Kerryon Johnson(Fantasy Football)
- NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Rashaad Penny(Fantasy Football)
To avoid internet trolls when comparing players to current or past NFL players, I use blind comparisons. I’m an advocate of blind comparisons because it’s a useful method to ensure impartiality and avoid bias.
Below is a tweet from my Twitter account of three running backs. One is Jones and the other two are current NFL running backs.
— Mitchell Renz (@MitchellRenz365) April 15, 2018
Player B is Jones and the forty yard dash time above is from his Pro Day, not the NFL Combine because he pulled his hamstring while running. Jones has a similar build to both of these running backs, and I think he possesses the ceiling of Player C, but the floor of Player A.
For strengths, Jones can wiggle turning the football field into an ice rink making defenders look like they are running on ice while Jones is on grass. When he plants his foot into the ground and can burst through a hole is when he picks up serious chunks of yardage. In his junior season, he ran with guts (really wanted to say something else, but my sexual innuendos limit has already been used) running tough threw holes and punishing defenders in the secondary when needed. He didn’t showcase his ability as a pass catcher in college, but don’t let the number fool you because he can catch the football.
For weaknesses, he is a little thin and has question marks around whether or not his frame could handle a heavy workload. His vision in different run schemes tends to be lacking, far too often he runs into the back of one of his lineman. He needs to learn how to go down, and I say this because he takes far to many big hits fighting for an extra inch and it scares me his body won’t be able to handle the abuse at the next level.
Back to the question, “What’s a good NFL comparison for Ronald Jones II?” He is a mix of Player A and C. Player A has Jones’ heart and ability to plant his foot to explode upfield but also shares Jones’ floor. Jones’ wiggle, build, and upside reminds me of Player C.
Player A is Jets running back, Bilal Powell. He is entering his eighth season in the NFL after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Despite his solid college production and flashes on the field in the NFL, the Jets haven’t trusted giving Powell a heavy workload due to his size. They have transformed him into a scat back who has never had over 179 rushing attempts in a season. When given the opportunity Powell has been productive, racking up 1,494 yards on 309 carries (4.5 YPC) and my fear is Jones will never be given a chance to break through.
Player C is Bills running back LeSean McCoy. Here is Jones’ upside, McCoy is entering his 10th season in the NFL after being selected in the second round by the Eagles in the 2009 NFL Draft. McCoy has had a great career rushing for 10,092 rushing yards and 75 touchdowns in his career while also adding 441 receptions for 3,378 yards and 15 touchdowns as a receiver.
McCoy had a ton of question marks around him entering the NFL, but once he showcased his talent, he has flourished ever since. I don’t think Jones has the amount of wiggle a player like McCoy does, but Jones is a more disciplined runner than McCoy entering the NFL. So, Powell’s heart, burst, and downside + McCoys build, wiggle, and upside = Ronald Jones II.
For his fantasy football value, I think it will determine where he is selected in the NFL Draft, if a team invests a pick on him in the first two rounds he will be a much safer pick. If he is drafted by a team with a crowded backfield, I’m worried he will get lost and never be given an opportunity he may deserve. Right now Jones is RB6 in FantasyPros Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings, and he is my RB5 according to my rookie running back rankings.