Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, I was fairly confident that the Denver Broncos were going to address immediate and future concerns on their offensive line a lot earlier than they did. Much to my chagrin, the Broncos waited until the third day of the draft to use a pick to shore up their offensive line. In the sixth round, they chose Colorado native and Arizona State University product Sam Jones to help fortify their unit and address a long-term need on the interior of their offensive line.
Name: Sam Jones
College: Arizona State
The hometown kid's coming !— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 28, 2018
Welcome to #BroncosCountry, Sam Jones! pic.twitter.com/3ByVxdB8UW
One big positive in respect to Jones as a prospect is his versatility and wealth of experience as a starter. He was a very productive three-year starter for the Sun Devils. As a redshirt freshman he played tackle, but in his final two years moved to the interior where he was a stalwart for them at left guard. According to Chris Karpman of CBS Sports, Jones was well-respected by his coaches and teammates and considered a vocal leader on and off the field and was voted a team captain in his final season. He fits the bill with th leadership and team captain quality aspects which were a very common theme for the Broncos’ 2018 draft class.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones was their fourth highest-graded guard in the Pac-12 in 2017 — posting a 83.2 mark. He also posted a run-block success percentage of 89.9 percent. He routinely got to the second-level as a run blocker and finished his blocks with a nasty demeanor, which fits right in with the direction the team wants to go on the offensive line. A year earlier, he fared a bit better in their evaluation process, with an impressive 84.9 overall grade. He was in their final rankings as one of the better guards available in the 2018 NFL Draft. He appears to be a player that wins battles with intelligence and technique, as opposed to power and strength — making him an ideal fit for a zone-blocking scheme.
3 studs. Kyle Bosch finished the season with an 86.9 overall grade and made PFF’s All-Big 12 1st team offense. A.J. McCollum had an 83.8 overall grade and Sam Jones had an 83.2 overall grade, both players made PFF’s All-Pac 12 2nd team offense. https://t.co/eIm7K3eIQq— Jordan Plocher (@PFF_Jordan) January 24, 2018
One of the primary issues surrounding Jones that you see when evaluating his tape is getting overpowered by defenders at the line of scrimmage. He certainly has the frame to add on more weight and become stronger at the point of attack — and that will be absolutely critical if he wants to have success in the NFL. While he was very good in respect to run blocking, he often was too grabby and received penalties for holding. Those are absolute drive killers and another cause for concern. I don’t believe Jones is ready to play, even in a backup capacity as a rookie and would be best served to spend a year on the team’s practice squad in order to develop.
“I think it’s been a tremendous help. Just getting a jump on everything. Obviously before I knew was going to be here, just kind of getting tips and tricks and general technique stuff from the guys. Once I figured out I was going to be here, it started getting into more of the playbook stuff. Connor McGovern sat down with me and we went over the plays and stuff. I feel like I definitely have a leg up going into camp.” — Jones speaking about working out with some of the Broncos’ OL veterans
One of the largest concerns moving forward as the franchise prepares for training camp in several weeks is the offensive line. Jones has a lot of quality tools that make him an interesting developmental prospect on the interior franchise for the offensive line, but I wouldn’t expect much from him as a rookie. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he followed the route of Matthew Paradis and spent a year on the team’s practice squad to allow him to get bigger and stronger in order to prepare for the physical rigors of the NFL.