Rookie Rundown: RB Ronald Jones II, USC

Rookie Rundown: RB Ronald Jones II, USC

Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: RB Ronald Jones II, USC

(Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

Southern California running back Ronald Jones II burst onto the NCAA scene as a true freshman in 2015 and did not look back. The Trojans managed to get the ball into his hands 153 times on the ground in 2015, leading to a USC freshman-record 987 yards (plus 8 TDs) on the year. Jones didn’t even start a game that year.

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 200 pounds
40 time: 4.65 seconds (pulled up injured at combine)

As a sophomore, Jones started six games, pacing the offense with 1,082 rushing yards and a dozen ground scores. His involvement and subsequent production coincided with the injury to running back Justin Davis.

Ronald Jones II stats (2015-17)

YEAR
ATT
YDS
AVG
LNG
TD
REC
YDS
AVG
LNG
TD
2015
153
987
6.5
74
8
7
39
5.6
15
1
2016
177
1082
6.1
66
12
11
76
6.9
16
1
2017
261
1550
5.9
86
19
14
187
13.4
56
1

Jones managed a top-10 finish in the nation with 1,550 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in his junior season. As one can see by the stats table, 32 combined receptions in three years is hardly impressive. This is not to say he cannot catch the ball well, but it is reflective of Jones not being an elite receiver.

Prior to losing the Cotton Bowl to Ohio State in 2017 (19-64-1), Jones closed out the season in dominant fashion by rushing 128 times for 814 yards (6.4 YPC) and scoring 10 times.

Pros

  • Brings an electric, big-play element to an offense
  • Built for a zone-blocking scheme as a fine cutback runner
  • Elusive in the open field. Fluidity and change-of-direction movement that cannot be taught
  • Few players are capable of his start-stop and jump-cut abilities.
  • Runs with passion and doesn’t shy away from soft contact that could result in added yardage
  • Premium ball security (two fumbles over 591 carries in college)
  • Productive with limited touches and visually improved throughout his collegiate career
  • Better receiver than his stats suggest — simply wasn’t used much as a pass-catching running back

Cons

  • Gets caught from behind more than he should — displays two gears.
  • Top-heavy build — thinner legs than preferred for a between-the-tackles NFL running back
  • Limited use as a receiver from the backfield has stunted growth as a route-runner
  • Takes on more contact than necessary
  • Suppressed upside at the next level — unlikely to become a full-time back

Fantasy outlook

Jones is expected to be chosen in the second or third rounds of the NFL draft. The running back pool is deep, and his skill set is not particularly diverse, which could cause a slip.

Teams looking for a part-time slasher as a complementary asset to their offense will have the most interest in Jones’ services. He would fit nicely in an offense like San Francisco’s, from both systematic chemistry and need-based perspectives.

Tracking free-agent movement

Other possible suitors could include the New York Jets, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars.

It will be somewhat surprising if the 49ers do not avidly pursue Jones. Washington and Seattle figure to be strong contenders, too. Regardless of where Jones lands, his skills could prove useful to fantasy owners in 2018 — and certainly beyond.

THE LATEST

More Huddle
Home