On Cardale Jones And Mariota

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

A lot of Eagles fans went into Monday’s game daydreaming about Marcus Mariota, but went to sleep with visions of Cardale Jones dancing in their heads.

Making just his third start, the 6-5, 250-pound redshirt sophomore accounted for 280 yards and scored twice (one passing, one rushing) to help Ohio State topple Oregon, 42-20, in the title game. Suddenly, a player that began the year as a third-stringer was getting talked about as a 2015 draft prospect.

“This is one of the most bizarre scenarios I can remember because right now if he came to me and said, ‘Should I?’, I don’t know if I could advise him against going  out for the 2015 draft,” Todd McShay told Mike & Mike.

“I finally saw him come off his first read and start to see his second read and see a little bit more of the field. He’s obviously just an ox running the football and that’s great, but what you do like is from inside the pocket, he’s making NFL throws, and there isn’t a throw out there that he cannot make. If he ended up declaring for this year’s draft, who knows, maybe a team would end up taking a flier on him in the fourth round. He’s just an extremely raw version of Ben Roethlisberger at this point.”

The current quarterback logjam at Ohio State would be one reason for Jones to consider coming out. Braxton Miller and JT Barrett could very well return next season, meaning a starting gig is no guarantee. But Jones is light on experience, and seems to think he needs a little more seasoning before jumping to the pros.

Underclassmen have until Thursday to declare for the draft. Unless he changes his mind between now and then, Jones will remain just a dream for now.

Meanwhile, it feels like Mariota is going to get beat up a bit in the lead-up to the draft, doesn’t it? In some ways it’s already begun. Kirk Herbstreit, who was on the call for the National Championship game, offered this balanced take:

“To take away, boy he’s not ready for the NFL because of the way he played last night, I don’t think that’s fair personally. I think that was more the system and the team they went up against and the way Ohio State played,” he said. “I think it’s impossible to sit here — for you guys or for me or for Trent Dilfer or for anybody to try and say right now he will be an average NFL quarterback or he will be great.

“It is fair to say that there are some concerns, there’s some red flags. Does he have the arm strength? Can he get under center? I think personally, because he processes information quickly, I think he’ll have no problem eventually when he goes to the NFL recognizing coverage, being able to come off his primary and get to his second and third option. I’ve seen him do it. Chip Kelly, who I was with this week quite a bit, talks about how of all the guys he’s ever been around, nobody processes information quicker than Mariota, and that says a lot now that Chip’s up in the NFL. So I think it’s easy to jump to conclusions because of how fresh it is in our minds of how bad Oregon played at times last night, but I wouldn’t give up on Mariota. I still think the young man is very, very special.”