PFF: Cardinals OT Josh Jones one of the draft’s underrated picks

May 2, 2020, 12:03 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm
Houston Cougars offensive lineman Josh Jones (74) prepares to pass block during the football game b...
Houston Cougars offensive lineman Josh Jones (74) prepares to pass block during the football game between the USF Bulls and Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By most accounts, the Arizona Cardinals getting Josh Jones 72nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft was a steal.

The Houston offensive tackle was predicted by many mock drafts to go in the first round, and some even were bold enough to have him going eighth overall to Arizona in the first round. He was that highly-touted of a prospect.

Leading up to the draft, though, four other offensive tackles were in the perceived “first tier” and were eventually selected before Jones: Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. In fact, Jones was the eighth tackle taken in the draft.

It’s highly possible, though, that Jones will be better than his draft slot suggests.

At least, that’s what one could walk away with after reading a glowing a review of the Cardinals’ drafting Jones; Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner called him one of the draft’s “underrated picks who could turn into gems” in a piece for ESPN.

PFF’s draft rank: 14

We’ve never seen a better non-Power 5 tackle at Pro Football Focus. Seriously. His 93.4 overall grade last season shattered the previous PFF record, and he allowed all of two pressures for the entire season. Teams chased offensive tackles with more perceived “upside” early in the draft, but Jones simply dominated every player he faced last season. That was the case even in the week of practices at the Senior Bowl, where he earned the highest grade in the pass-blocking one-on-ones.

Expect Jones’ career path to follow that of former Western Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Moton. Similarly, Moton dominated both in his senior season and at the Senior Bowl before falling to the end of the second round. Now he has had back-to-back seasons with top-15 pass-blocking grades. Jones looks like a starter from day one at guard or tackle for Arizona with a Moton-esque future ahead.

Moton was taken 64th overall by the Panthers in 2017 and has since played 16 games in each of three consecutive seasons. He’s currently the Panthers’ starting right tackle.

Jones sliding into a starting tackle spot isn’t a given. On the left side, D.J. Humphries is the starter, and right tackle will be a competition between Jones, Justin Murray and Marcus Gilbert.

Still, a highly-touted offensive lineman inexplicably fell to the third round and gave the Cardinals great value at that spot.

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PFF: Cardinals OT Josh Jones one of the draft’s underrated picks