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‘Did he kill somebody?’ Cardinals couldn’t believe Josh Jones’ draft slide

Offensive lineman Josh Jones of Houston runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones may have been an easy pick for the Arizona Cardinals as they held the 72nd overall selection, but the wait to land him was an anxious one, head coach Kliff Kingsbury told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.

They had Jones graded more than two rounds higher on their board.

So Kingsbury found himself working the phone lines as Jones slid in Day 2 of the draft.

He called Houston’s Dana Holgorsen, a fellow Air Raid disciple who served as Houston’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Kingsbury got his first coaching gig for the Cougars in 2008.

The Cardinals head coach also called Brandon Jones, Houston’s co-offensive coordinator who was Jones’ position coach.

“We’re calling saying, ‘What’s going on? Did he kill somebody last night? Is there something we don’t know about? What’s the issue?'” Kingsbury said Monday on Bickley & Marotta. “They were kind of scratching their heads as well.”

By the time Arizona was up to make their second draft pick, Jones remained available.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said Friday that Jones was a top-30 player on their board, and so as Arizona went through the end of the first round Thursday and into Friday without a second-round pick, they had eyes on Jones for quite a while.

“A lot of group prayers at that point,” Kingsbury said. “You look at the board and it was kind of wiped out all around him. We were trying to figure out why.”

Pro Football Focus’s Anthony Treash agreed that Jones was a value steal at 72nd overall. He noted that PFF had Jones 30 picks higher on its big board than Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton, who went 11th overall to the New York Jets.

Jones had the best season we have ever seen from a Group-of-5 tackle in 2019 by recording a 93.4 overall grade. He allowed only two hurries and not a single hit or sack on his 325 pass-block snaps. And he did this with poor technique — he was basically walking backward out of his stance. That level of dominance with that technique says a lot about what he can become.

The Cardinals aren’t expecting Jones to be leaned on too early, before he can clean up his technique.

They expect to let him learn at his own pace with veteran tackles Marcus Gilbert and Justin Murray competing for playing time opposite left tackle D.J. Humphries.

“We were just thrilled (to land Jones),” Kingsbury said.


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