Quarterbacks are always at the forefront of the Scouting Combine, and that’s no different this year as the likes of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson are all the rage right now in Indianapolis.
However, the Bolts have a young QB of their own that they are high on in Cardale Jones.
The Chargers traded away a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft on the eve of training camp last July for Jones, and he showed glimpses of his potential despite being thrown into the fire. He initially entered the NFL as the Buffalo Bills’ fourth-round selection (139th-overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Still only 25-years old, Jones is a 6-5, 250-pound physical specimen blessed with a rocket arm. While fans didn’t get to see him in game action in the regular season, General Manager Tom Telesco had some strong words that show just how high the Chargers are on the young quarterback.
“He really has a lot of tools that we are excited about,” Telesco said. “He got a lot of work during the season in practice, which was good to see. He had some days that were really, really good, and he had some days that showed he still needs improvement. This is going to be a huge offseason for him because now he is going to have almost a full year of our offense and scheme under his belt.”
It will also be huge since it will have been a full year since he’d seen live action once the preseason rolls around. Telesco didn’t mince words on how important his performance will be in those games for his development.
“This will be a big preseason too to get some live reps and snaps, which quarterbacks have to have. There is no NFL Europe anymore to send a quarterback to. There’s nowhere else for a quarterback to go to get some of those live reps. You can only do so much in practice. But we love what we saw in practice, but we’ve just got to see some live reps, too. We’ll start to get that more in training camp with a higher tempo, and then the preseason games with real live reps.”
Jones’ winning pedigree also can’t be overlooked.
He turned heads in 2015 when he took over at QB to lead the Buckeyes to the National Championship. Jones was also named the MVP of the Big Ten title game that gave them a spot in the College Football Playoff after throwing for 257 yards and three TDs.
He followed that up with a perfect 11-0 in games he started in 2016. When all was said and done, the quarterback completed 170 of 270 attempts over his career for 2,323 yards and 15 touchdowns in 23 collegiate games.
It’s also worth noting that the Bolts aren’t the only ones bullish on Jones’ potential.
MMQB’s Albert Breer knows Jones perhaps better than any other analyst, and offered strong words about what the future might hold.
“I loved watching Cardale as a collegiate player at Ohio St.,” he said. “Obviously, he came in in a big spot during his redshirt sophomore year and did a fantastic job. You can see the talent. He can move for a guy that big and he’s got an absolute howitzer for an arm. He has one of the 10 strongest arms in football. The tools are there, the questions have always been about his ability to develop within the confines of a pro offense. They did some different things at Ohio St. which was more of a spread offense. Then when he came into the league, it was as a developmental guy. I still think that’s sort of where he is. It’s going to be interesting to see if he’s going to take the next step.”
Breer also thinks Jones is in the perfect spot as he’s able to sit behind and learn from one of the best in the business – Philip Rivers. As he pointed out, there’s an impressive track record of success when it comes to young QBs sitting and learning from future Hall of Fame passers.
“A lot of the great quarterbacks in the league will tell you sitting helped,” he added. “We saw it with Jimmy Garoppolo and we saw it a decade ago with Aaron Rodgers. There’s definitely a benefit to sitting and learning from someone who really knows what they’re doing. In those cases, it’s Tom Brady for Garoppolo and it’s Brett Favre for Rodgers. I think having Philip Rivers as somebody who not only is a really good player, but someone who has it down (with) the way you prepare (and) the way you lead. To have that example sitting right there for him I think is really helpful.”
To hear more from the Bolts' braintrust, tune in on Thursday at 8:00am PT as Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn will address the media. Fans can catch it live on Facebook, Twitter, our mobile app and Chargers.com