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2018 NFL Draft Profile: USC RB Ronald Jones could add home run threat to Lions’ backfield

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The Lions need a weapon out of the backfield after four years of rushing futility, this USC back could add that and more.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Cotton Bowl Classic - USC v Ohio St Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ronald Jones II

RB | 3JR | USC

Date of Birth: 8/3/1997 | Height: 5116 | Weight: 200

Projection: Late 1st to mid 2nd round

Scout Hub Featured Background:

Jesse Fritsch

Texas native. Four-star recruit, according to ESPN. Communications major. Played in 14 games as a freshman. Started 6 of 13 games played as a sophomore. Has also sprinted on the USC track team. Father was a sergeant in the Army and mother a social worker. Parents separated and Ronald went with his mother and five siblings (three were adopted). In 2012 Ronald’s father died of a heart attack after struggles with heart problems and being on a transplant list.

Stats:

2015 (14 games): 153 rushes, 987 yards (6.5 YPC), 8 TDs; 7 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD
2016 (13 games): 177 rushes, 1082 yards (6.1 YPC), 12 TDs; 11 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD
2017 (13 games); 261 rushes, 1550 yards (5.9 YPC), 19 TDs; 14 catches, 187 yards, 1 TD

Positives:

Shows good speed and burst while running in an offense primarily out of shotgun. Vision is very good, but far better at the second level than at the line. Able to work with sub par blocking and doesn’t often leave negative yardage when holes are present. Stays small and doesn’t open himself up to unnecessary hits. Follows his blockers and maintains balance through contact when he has momentum.

Athleticism appears superb with speed, explosion, and quick twitch acceleration being strengths. Better with inside zone than outside, where his burst can be more effective. Is rarely stopped easily after making a cut and taking his first few steps. Tough to catch and is rarely caught from behind in the open field. Second gear is impressive and has real breakaway ability. Receiving skills are above average, tracking the ball in the air well and cleanly catching the football without peeking at incoming contact.

Negatives:

Has a tendency to lower his head on contact inside, and while he keeps his legs moving, it sometimes seems like he’s just taking what he can get rather than working for more. On outside zone, sometimes waits too long to make his cut which can lead to negative or shorter plays than if he were as decisive as he is inside. When defenders burst through the line, he can sometimes try to run lateral to the line rather than taking the hit for a short loss, which can occasionally turn a -2 yard run into a -4.

While balance is good once he’s moving, sometimes loses his feet while accelerating, leaving a few yards on the field, turning a good gain into a shorter one. Pass protection is erratic. Though he’s a willing blocker his ability seems to vary from game to game with some flashes of excellence and others where he’s totally washed. While his agility is more than accurate, shows a reliance on his explosiveness over change of direction ability.

Outlook:

Jones projects to be a starter in a primarily zone based offense. His frame looks adequate to survive NFL punishment and his athletic ability is such that opposing defenses will have to gameplan for his speed and game breaking ability. Though he makes his living with speed and explosion, he isn’t afraid to mix it up inside and thus defenses can’t hope to simply keep him bottled up inside. Will require some time to adjust to blocking at the NFL level.

Notes:

Missed a small amount of time with a sprained his ankle and had a thigh contusion in 2017, but returned against Washington State to the tune of 14 carries for 128 total rushing yards including an 86-yard touchdown run. Against a strong Ohio State front, was overwhelmed at or behind the line more often than you’d like. Balance against Texas was notable, navigating through traffic and keeping his feet, bouncing off hits to keep moving for positive yardage. Excellent 56-yard touchdown catch in the open field where he made a man miss then outran the entire Texas defense. Another excellent example of his balance and ability to fight off tackles is shown against Utah on one of his first carries, then later when backed up near their own end zone where he broke a high tackle to gain a first down.

All Player links:

Game Tape:

Ohio State 2017, UCLA 2017, Colorado 2017, Notre Dame 2017, Texas 2017, Western Michigan 2017, Stanford 2017, Notre Dame 2016, Cal 2016, UCLA 2016, Alabama 2016, Washington 2016, Highlights, Highlights, Utah 2017

Other Links:

Team-Team Page, Draft Profile-Jesse Fritsch Report, Draft Report-Anthony Licciardi Scouting Report