One player who improved his draft stock in Mobile? Houston Cougars offensive tackle Josh Jones, who has nice momentum towards being a first-round pick.
If a team is in need for an offensive lineman, the 2020 NFL Draft is the place that they’ll be able to find one.
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Similar to the defensive line the previous year, this draft class is stacked full of talented, young blockers.
For Houston Cougars offensive tackle Josh Jones, a great Senior Bowl has put him on the map and the ensuing momentum could well see him become a first-round selection.
Jones is a good prospect for the professional level. He passes the eye test with good length and a solid frame for a left tackle. He played well for Houston and has been a reliable protector for the Cougars, showcasing the athleticism and aggression to be a top left tackle in the NFL.
For all this, however, Jones was someone who was more considered a second-round or third-round prospect rather than a true Thursday night selection.
Jones’ Senior Bowl may have changed that notion.
Throughout all the practices, Jones was a fortress at both left and right tackle for the North team. He already looks the prototypical blindside protector at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, but he also showed good speed and technique to stonewall defenders trying to get past him.
Analysts have been heavy in their praise of Jones’ performance in the Senior Bowl practices. The fact that teams are always constantly looking for upgrades to protect their quarterback means Jones will find himself in heavy demand if his impressive momentum holds up.
What may attract teams most was his ability to stop every type of move a defender will employ against him. Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports broke down one of his practices:
"The 6-foot-7, 310-pound rock of a blocker effortlessly thwarted everything defensive linemen threw at him in one-on-one drills with a phenomenal display of knee bend, power in his upper half, and mirroring skills thanks to high-end athleticism.It didn’t matter if it was a speed rush to the outside, an inside counter, a bull rush, or a swipe move, Jones stymied everything all afternoon for the North squad."
One question mark surrounding Jones were his technique issues. If Jones can allay these concerns, the idea of him being a top-30 pick seems quite reasonable as we move towards the Scouting Combine.
The Senior Bowl is by far the best time to perform how Jones did, because it’s the last time he plays a game before he’s drafted. It’s too soon to see if teams are truly satisfied with his technique, but it’s clear he showed a lot of positives in Mobile.
However, this is only the first test. Jones still has both the Houston pro day and the NFL Scouting Combine to impress scouts further. Where a player gets drafted can often depend as much on last impressions as it does how they performed during the college season.
For now, Jones has started the draft journey very well. After Andrew Thomas of the Georgia Bulldogs, there’s a big race in the pecking order for offensive tackle. Where teams would place Jones on that order is sheer guesswork, but if he continues his current momentum he may climb far enough up it that he can be a first-round selection for a team looking to upgrade its blocking.
All eyes are now on Jones. It’ll sure be interesting to find out how he fares.