CARDINALS CORNER

From soccer to football: Christian Jones in ‘perfect situation’ with Cardinals

Apr 30, 2024, 11:44 AM

Arizona Cardinals rookie Christian Jones spent his younger days playing soccer and aspiring to reach the Premier League while growing up in the football mecca that is Texas.

What first started as a conversation and a handshake with his health teacher, who happened to be a high school football coach, has led Jones to become a fifth-round pick by the Cardinals.

“(My teacher) pulled up to class one day … like, ‘Hey, man, you’re too big to be playing soccer,” Jones told Bickley & Marotta on Monday. “I just told him … ‘Sophomore year I’m going to be on the academy team, I’m going to get a college scholarship and then I’m going to commit and work my way onto the national team and, like, play overseas in England.’

“This is the first time we met. He said, ‘When you don’t, come play football.’ I’m extremely prideful, extremely competitive, so I shook his hand on it. Fast-forward to that sophomore year, second semester, (soccer) did not work, and I saw that coach that following Monday, man. I just felt something in my heart, kind of just asked him jokingly, ‘Hey, man. When’s football start?'”

It started for him that day. Getting drafted by the Cardinals last week was further proof of how far Jones has come since first beginning his football journey as a high school sophomore.

Now, it’s all about proving that even with a clear experience gap, Jones can make a name for himself at the pro level.

Given the Cardinals’ coaching staff and current makeup in the offensive line room, Jones couldn’t envision a better landing spot.

“Going to the Cardinals is the perfect situation. A great organization, a great QB, a great line already that I can really learn from with a lot of vets that have been there for a while that can show me the ropes,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday.

“I’m bringing just nastiness and dominating in the run game, putting a hat on a hat, taking a man and moving him from Point A to Point B against his will and I’m a pass protector,” the lineman added. “I feel like I’ve got great feet, I’m extremely athletic. I know this is just the start. I feel myself getting better every single day. I’m very excited.”

Despite diving into the sport later than most, the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder ended up appearing in 61 games for the Texas Longhorns across five seasons. His versatility was on display the college ranks, with Jones starting 35 games at right tackle compared to 21 on the left side.

But while Jones picked up a wealth of knowledge at Texas and can now call himself an NFL Draft pick, the offensive tackle will be the first to say he’s got a lot to improve on, including hand placement and overall technique and fundamentals.

“My whole game can be better. I know that’s very broad, but when you play offensive line, even when you make a good play it could be better,” Jones said.

“You don’t practice to get it right, you practice so you never get it wrong.”

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