CLEVELAND – With the deadline to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft set for today at 3 p.m., there is widespread speculation that Ohio State Buckeyes redshirt sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones will bolt for the NFL.
Thanks to an improbable three-game run in winning the Big Ten title game 59-0 over Wisconsin, 42-35 over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and outplaying Marcus Mariota in the College Football Playoff title game 42-20, Jones’ stock is as hot and trending upwards.
In his three starts, Jones passed for 742 yards and tossed five touchdowns and two interceptions.
A 22-year-old Cleveland-born signal-caller with a 6’5, 250-pound frame, Jones’ cannon arm and nimble mobility in and out of the pocket have earned him comparisons to a another big-bodied quarterback—Ben Roethlisberger.
For all of their sports history, no one team has caused more heartache and misery than the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. the mere though and sight of the former Buckeye would be enough for any Browns fan get nauseous.
Pittsburgh drafting Jones would also stick it to their long-suffering rivals even more, as the Steelers once again snatch another native Ohioan—and a product of city powerhouse Glenville, only to now have him wear their black and gold.
Pittsburgh has proverbially written the book on how to draft for over a generation and after drafting Roethlisberger, they could land Jones and groom him to be the perfect successor to Big Ben.
The 32-year-old two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, who came off of the best season of his—soon-to-be—Hall of Fame career in passing for a career-best 4,952 yards and tied his regular-season best mark of touchdowns with 32, isn’t getting any younger.
That in addition to his current contract situation extension in the air, as he is about to enter the last year of his eight-year, $102 million that he signed in 2008, makes the case for Pittsburgh to look for a successor.
With a big frame built for the physical and rugged AFC North, Jones succeeding Big Ben in Pittsburgh makes too much sense. In the Steel City he would have the luxury of playing behind one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, hand off to the NFL’s best all-purpose running back in Le’Veon Bell and pass to the league’s most dangerous wideout in Antonio Brown.
Jones would have the rare luxury of sitting behind one of the NFL’s premier QB’s instead of being thrust into action immediately, and when the time comes, he would be ready.
If Jones does indeed decide to declare for the NFL Draft, as some rumors suggest he will, it wouldn’t surprise me that based on the Steelers penchant of drafting Ohio State players in the past—and present in former defensive tackle Cameron Hayward—that they grab another Buckeye standout in Jones.