Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NFL COMBINE ; Cardale Jones Trying to Boost Draft Stock after Slide

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NFL COMBINE ; Cardale Jones Trying to Boost Draft Stock after Slide

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - The Cardale Jones relaunch campaign is cranking up.

He still looks and sounds like an NFL quarterback. He still believes in himself, despite what doubters think, and now he's back in Indianapolis ready to prove his future is as promising as everyone once thought. One year after putting his pro career on hold so he could return to Ohio State, Jones has finally arrived at the league's annual scouting combine - minus some of the buzz.

"I can't wait to shock 'em, Jones said Thursday.

There's no doubt about Jones' wow factor.

At 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, he is the heaviest quarterback in town. His arm is so strong, the Buckeyes nicknamed him "12 Gauge. And after helping Ohio State fend off archrival Michigan in his first significant college action in 2014, all Jones did was win the Big Ten title game, a national semifinal and the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game in his first three starts.

The incredible feat - beating Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon - set off a debate whether a three-game starter should consider leaving school early and jumping straight to the NFL.

Early projections had him rated among the top five quarterbacks in the 2015 draft, but Jones turned down the chance anyway.

Nothing has been the same since.

Despite beating out J.T. Barrett for the starting job in camp, Jones was benched after starting the season 7-0, and his draft stock has steadily slid. He's not expected to go in the first round and may not be taken until the third and final day of the April draft.

"Would he have gone higher last year than this year? Yes, because of the momentum of winning a national championship, said quarterbacks guru and ESPN analyst George Whitfield, who has been working with Jones. "Is he better off for returning? Yes. This year was more about being a front-line quarterback, they [defenses] know about you and their scouting reports are all about you.

Granted that may be Whitfield's hard sales pitch. But even Whitfield understands there is only one way Jones can recoup his losses: with a series of impressive performances between now and the draft

It could happen. …

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