Ronald Jones was drafted 38th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Heading into the draft, Jones was ranked fourth in the RotoViz Scouting index and was drafted just one spot later as the fifth running back off the board.
Before analyzing his fit on the roster, let’s look at his overall prospect profile.
Ronald Jones, USC, 5-11, 205
What the Models Say
Jones comes in sixth in the class in terms of Prospect Lab score,1 which is a good score, but also indicates some red flags. Still, Jones could potentially be underrated by the Lab. He injured himself during his 40 at the combine, and may not have been back up to full speed for his pro day 40. Jones would look a lot better with a time closer to 4.40 flat.
This offseason, Anthony Amico introduced his model for grading RB prospects which looks primarily at age, all-purpose yards, and scouting scores. After the most recent updates to the model, Jones checks in as the fourth RB in the rankings, which matches his position in the RSI. Jones is helped here by his extremely young age. He’s the youngest in the entire class, so even though he didn’t meet the breakout criteria until his final year, he still benefits from an early breakout.
|Player||School||Age||Breakout Age||ADJ APYPG||Predict|
|Saquon Barkley||Penn State||20.9||19.9||179.2||282.9|
|Nyheim Hines||NC State||21.1||21.1||185.3||157.6|
Speaking of age, Blair Andrews’ series on the effect of draft age on the different positions highlighted the fact that 21-year-old rookies have a significantly better chance of producing a top season than their older counterparts. The benefit for RBs is pronounced, and Jones is one of just five RBs in the class to fall into the age-21 cohort.
Production and Marketshare
Jones was productive even as an 18-year-old freshman and has been efficient throughout his career. The one underwhelming spot on his resume is his mediocre receiving numbers. While it would have been nice to see more targets go Jones’ way, there’s a positive element to his receiving production that we’ll discuss in a moment.
RB Workhorse Scores
|Saquon Barkley||Penn State||—||—||60.97||82.44||92.2||78.63|
|Ito Smith||Southern Mississippi||—||21.44||36.61||84.58||91.29||62.79|
|Larry Rose III||New Mexico State||—||60.39||92.06||87.98||83.07||78.95|
|Ronald Jones II||USC||—||—||41.02||67.67||76.13||62|
Jones’ final-year 76.13 Workhorse Score was seventh best in the class, and his career mark of 62.00 is excellent, putting him behind only Saquon Barkley among RBs who appear in the RSI.
Not only that, but Jones was the best among the top RBs in Blair Andrews’ Backfield Dominator Rating, barely edging out the hyper-productive Rashaad Penny.2 This metric helps explain a RB’s production within a team’s scheme and largely vindicates Jones on the receiving front.
|Player||School||MS of Backfield RuYds||MS of Backfield RuTDs||MS of Backfield ReYds||MS of Backfield ReTDs||Backfield Dominator||College Dominator|
|Ito Smith||Southern Mississippi||75.16%||81.25%||80.00%||100.00%||79.75%||36.66%|
|Ronald Jones II||USC||72.26%||82.61%||48.32%||100.00%||75.97%||34.95%|
|Larry Rose III||New Mexico State||73.70%||90.91%||65.41%||50.00%||75.26%||30.43%|
|Josh Adams||Notre Dame||79.53%||64.29%||92.66%||0.00%||72.28%||26.86%|
|Saquon Barkley||Penn State||72.67%||72.00%||73.75%||50.00%||70.38%||35.74%|
|Ray Lawry||Old Dominion||72.46%||63.64%||21.65%||100.00%||64.51%||42.56%|
Jones played in a Power-5 conference and managed to be one of the most dominant RBs in college football, while also being the youngest in his class. He lacks the size of some of the other top backs in the class, many of whom weigh more than 220 pounds, but his production indicates that he should have no problem carrying the load for an NFL team. Jones is also an explosive runner, ranking near the top of the class in his ratio of Breakaway Runs.
While Cort Smith mused on how Jones would fit with the Colts, he instead lands in one of the other best possible situations for a rookie RB. After parting ways with Doug Martin, the Buccaneers are left with Peyton Barber, Charles Sims, and Jacquizz Rodgers in their backfield.Though Barber was serviceable once he was given the opportunity, it was unclear if he was a long-term answer at the position. Sims and Rodgers have been adept at catching passes, however neither have excelled at lead back duties. Jones should become an immediate starter on a team with a significant amount of opportunity available.
Tampa Bay was one of the premiere destinations for any rookie RB, with one of the best offenses among the most RB-needy teams. Jones should be an immediate starter and have an opportunity to play on all three downs. Though the presence of Sims may keep him from seeing the same snap share as workhorses like David Johnson and Todd Gurley, none of the other RBs on the roster should challenge him. His ADP in redraft and best ball leagues should skyrocket, and he enters the discussion for a top-3 pick in dynasty leagues.