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Friday, 16 January 2015

Why Ohio State QB Cardale Jones Should Have Entered the '15 Draft

On Thursday afternoon, Ohio State third string starter, turned national title quarterback Cardale Jones, made it known that he will return to Ohio State in 2015. The announcement was anticipated for a number of reasons, but for Ohio State fans the news of his return brings hopes for a repeat championship in 2015.

Jones has only made three career starts at the college level, but based on those three starts you could never tell. Jones started the 2014 season as the third string quarterback behind not one, but two Heisman Trophy candidates at quarterback for Ohio State. Jones got his opportunity after J.T. Barrett went down with a season ending leg injury against Michigan at the end of the regular season.

The thought of Ohio State going into the Big Ten Championship Game and stopping the nation’s best running back Melvin Gordon and beating Wisconsin with a thrid string quarterback was unthinkable. The Buckeyes not only went in and beat the Badgers, they stomped them 59-0 to win the 2014 Big Ten title.

Jones showed signs of being a big time quarterback, but with just one game the jury was still out about how great he was. His next task was to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the inaugural College Football Playoff after the Buckeyes made the final four, despite tons of controversy and debating.

The Buckeyes were nearly double digit underdogs against Alabama and for good reason. The Buckeyes were going into the Super Dome, basically a home game for Alabama, with a third string quarterback in Jones.  The Buckeyes stunned the nation and defeated Alabama 42-35 to make the first annual College Football Playoff national championship game.

Jones and Ohio State then got to face an Oregon Ducks’ team that had won their last nine games by an average of 27.4 points per game. The Ducks had just come off one of the most impressive wins of the entire season by any team as they demolished the defending national champions Florida State 59-20.

Ohio State once again entered the game as underdogs, but you couldn’t tell it by watching the 2014 national title. The Buckeyes controlled the game from basically start to finish and the impossible became the possible behind their once third string quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones led one of the most improbable national title runs we have ever, or will ever see in our lifetime. He literally went from being a third string quarterback a month ago, to winning the national title on one of the biggest stages in college football history.

Jones had to now decide between returning to Ohio State or enter the 2015 NFL Draft and his decision of returning to Ohio State makes for a great debate.

I feel Jones should have left Ohio State to enter the NFL Draft for two reasons, but this is obviously an opinion from afar.

The first of those two reasons is because of health and injury risks. The Buckeyes saw their first two quarterbacks go down to injury and Jones saw firsthand how fragile playing quarterback can be. The idea of Jones entering the NFL to make millions had to be intriguing and could be a decision he will come to regret.

The risk of injury is always present and that had to go into Jones’ decision making leading up to his announcement of returning to Ohio State.

The second reason I felt Jones should have entered the 2015 NFL Draft is because his stock will never be higher. As we just documented his last three, and only three career starts, we saw how impressive the victories were. Jones led his team to wins in the Big Ten title game, a national semi-final game and most impressively, the first annual College Football Playoff national title game.

It’s hard to imagine that in 2015 Jones and the Buckeyes will do anything that rivals how impressive their run the past month was. True, the Buckeyes will likely enter the 2015 preseason ranked number one, but to repeat as national champions is very tough and Jones will find that out in 2015.

Jones could have practiced the theory of “strike while the iron is hot” and the iron has never been hotter than it is now for himself and the entire Buckeyes’ football program.

This is obviously his decision that will change his life and not mine, but we have witnessed so many cases where a quarterback came back to school only to lose out on millions of dollars and drop the following year in the draft.

We saw this with Matt Leinart in 2005 and it’s a decision that he still regrets to this day.

The Buckeyes will have a fierce quarterback competition in 2015, but after what Jones just accomplished it’s hard to imagine he won’t be the starter in 2015. This is another potential roadblock for Jones and reason he should have entered the NFL Draft, but we will give him the benefit of the doubt that he will win the starting job in 2015 fall or spring camp.

The Buckeyes will enter the 2015 season on an emotional high after what they just accomplished. Cardale Jones has stamped his place in Ohio State and college football history and for his sake I hope his decision to return to school doesn’t backfire on him. It was a magical 2014 season in Columbus, and now the focus turns towards the chance to repeat in 2015.


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