Ronald Jones

Poll: Which Rookie RB Will Rush For Most Yards In 2018?

In selecting their third first-round running back of this century, the Giants continued to show how they regard this position despite its marginalization over the past several years. Saquon Barkley is the odds-on favorite to win offensive rookie of the year.

However, the running back position produces annual mid- or late-round surprises — from Devonta Freeman to Jordan Howard to Kareem Hunt — that end up providing immense value to certain teams. The Giants obviously have an incredibly gifted ball-carrier set to take handoffs from Eli Manning, but which of Barkley’s peers is in the best position to challenge him (and the quarterback contingent) for the OROY honor?

The other two first-round RBs look to be less equipped for a strong challenge due to circumstances.

Sony Michel‘s prospects of being an immediate ground producer may have been better on a different team. While the Patriots boast one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, Bill Belichick notoriously finds myriad usages for his backs and involves nearly all of them. Although, Dion Lewis‘ departure after a 180-carry season opens the door for someone to take over as New England’s primary back. And Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 156 totes at Georgia last season. Rashaad Penny looks to be behind Chris Carson to start the season, and the surprise first-rounder may be given time to develop for a Seattle team that’s struggled on the ground for a few years now.

After Round 1, however, it becomes a bit more interesting. The Buccaneers did not possess a formidable depth chart at running back prior to investing their second-round pick in USC’s Ronald Jones. In 2017, Jones rushed for 1,550 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns. He could well be an early-season starter, with the likes of Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber in his path toward a first-string role. Chosen just before Jones, Nick Chubb will have to contend with Carlos Hyde in Cleveland this season for the revamped Browns. Chubb, though, notched three 1,000-yard seasons in the nation’s toughest conference.

Kerryon Johnson looks to be set to start in a committee in Detroit, but the Lions have been desperate for a surefire ground producer for years now. And they view Johnson as a three-down backLeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah reside in the Motor City carries picture, but neither would impede Johnson from a major role if he proves ready from the outset. Derrius Guice could have a quicker path to playing time in Washington. Considered by some the second-best back in this draft, the LSU product fell largely because of character concerns. However, Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 2016 on nearly 200 attempts and is expected to push for the Redskins’ starting job from the start.

Also expected to challenge for an early role: the Broncos’ Royce Freeman. The Oregon-developed talent posted three 1,300-plus-yard seasons with the Ducks, amassing a staggering 947 college carries. With the Broncos having moved on from four-year starter C.J. Anderson, only Devontae Booker (299 rushing yards last season) resides in the third-rounder’s path. Is he a threat to be the 2018 version of Hunt?

As for Barkley, he has the most obvious route to a full-time gig. Despite Jonathan Stewart now being in the Big Apple, the Penn State dynamo will factor in from the start of the Giants’ season. And the three-down back totaled at least 2,300 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back years for the Nittany Lions. The Giants have questions up front, having lost Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but they added multiple UFAs — spearheaded by Nate Solder — and chose likely Day 1 starter Will Hernandez in Round 2.

So, will Barkley’s situation be too much for the rest of this class to overcome, a la Ezekiel Elliott? Or will one of the later-round picks emerge in Hunt fashion? Is there a Day 3 dark horse in this year’s class in the mold of Freeman or Howard? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Sign Rookie RB Ronald Jones

Ronald Jones is officially under contract with the Buccaneers. On Thursday, the Bucs announced that the second-round pick out of USC has signed his deal. With that, the Bucs have officially locked up their entire draft class. 

Heading into the draft, some believed that Jones would be a first-round selection. However, he did not help his cause with a poor showing at the Trojans’ pro day. The Bucs, meanwhile, believe that they have a sleeper on their hands after grabbing Jones with the No. 38 overall pick.

Last season, Jones racked up 1,550 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns in his final collegiate campaign. There are some concerns about Jones’ ability to handle a big workload, but the Bucs will be able to limit his usage thanks to the presence of Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Charles Sims.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Bucs’ 2018 draft class, via PFR’s draft tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Guice, Redskins, Patriots, Bills, Giants, Darnold

Running back Derrius Guice visited the Redskins at their team facility on Monday, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Redskins have been public about their desire to add a pass-catching running back and Guice, with 18 catches last year at LSU, would fit the bill.

With needs to address on the other side of the ball, many believe that the Redskins will take a defensive player at No. 13 overall. However, the Redskins could probably trade back into the early 20s to take Guice and address their defensive holes later on.

Here’s the latest round of NFL draft news:

  • The Patriots hosted UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller on a pre-draft visit, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets.
  • Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen met with the Bills on Monday and will travel to the Giants on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, USC QB Sam Darnold met with the Giants on Monday and will meet with the Jets on Tuesday.
  • Linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Bengals on Monday, Rapoport tweets. The Bengals own the No. 21 pick in the draft, which could allow them to snag the Alabama standout.
  • Speaking of Alabama, Rapoport also notes that standout defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne met with the Redskins on Monday. Payne has shot up draft boards in recent weeks thanks to his remarkable strength. “He’s the best. He’s the best I’ve seen,”Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran said earlier this year. “I’ve never seen a guy hit 385 on the power clean every single year. His first year he hit 365 on the power clean and it was like wow, freshman, that’s incredible.
  • USC running back Ronald Jones visited the Patriots on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Within the same tweet, he notes that Stanford safety Justin Reid visited the Panthers before heading off to his Steelers visit.
  • Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson took a pre-draft visit to meet with the 49ers on Monday, a league source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 49ers have the ninth pick in the first round and Jackson is projected to come off the board as a middle-to-late first-round pick.
  • LSU pass-rusher Arden Key visited the Bears on Monday, Rapoport tweets. He also notes Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller visited the Redskins on Monday and Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson visited the Raiders.

Draft Rumors: Jones, Michel, Jets, Tackles

Ronald Jones ranks as the No. 20 overall prospect on NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s big board, but the USC running back has apparently not helped his cause much this offseason. A poor showing at the Trojans’ pro day last month drew scrutiny from some evaulators around the league, Jeremiah said (via Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune). The draft expert notes Jones’ stock has taken a bit of a hit. He does not project Jones (1,550 rushing yards last season, 20 total touchdowns) to be a first-round pick but does envision a bit of a sleeper making it into Day 1. Jones visited the Broncos this week and could be an option when their Round 2 pick (No. 37) arrives.

Jeremiah expects Sony Michel to be the third running back selected in the first round later this month, following Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice. Some NFL teams are likening the Georgia back to Alvin Kamara, per Jeremiah. The speed complement to Nick Chubb with the Bulldogs, Michel posted two 1,000-yard rushing seasons — the latest a 1,227-yard showing that came with an incredible 7.9 yards per carry — and looks to be entering the first-round conversation.

Here’s the latest on this year’s draft class.

  • Baker Mayfield‘s strong offseason notwithstanding, the Heisman Trophy recipient is still viewed as somewhat of a polarizing prospect because of his past. But Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the quarterback presented himself well during meetings with Jets brass this week. Cimini rates Mayfield as the second-best fit for the Jets at No. 3, behind Sam Darnold.
  • Teams in need of tackles should temper expectations about this year’s class, Jeremiah said. Following a draft that saw its first tackle (Garett Bolles) go off the board at No. 20, Jeremiah said tackle is one of this year’s weakest positions, along with edge rusher. He does not view any of this year’s tackle prospects as being worth a top-20 pick.
  • Having now seen multiple starting offensive linemen retire this offseason, the Bills may have a dilemma going into the draft. The team has long been rumored to be targeting a top-five pick in the draft, but Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes that the team — with the Jets and the Browns essentially locked in on QBs at Nos. 1 and 3 — would have to target the Giants’ No. 2 pick to have much certainty on one of its top choices still being there to draft. Rodak opines the Bills, who have seen Eric Wood and Richie Incognito announce intentions to retire, may be better off standing pat and bolstering their depth chart at other positions. Of course, the Bills have only A.J. McCarron in place at this point and would be gambling without making a serious investment in the position this month.
  • The Josh Allen-to-Cleveland buzz should be taken seriously, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com writes. Noting John Dorsey‘s decision to supply the Chiefs with raw talent Patrick Mahomes when a more productive Deshaun Watson was on the board, and the then-Kansas City GM’s decision to select higher-upside Eric Fisher over a more proven Luke Joeckel, should give Browns fans an inclination the gifted Wyoming talent with some statistical red flags could be the team’s No. 1 overall pick.

NFL Draft Rumors: Broncos, Jones, Jaguars

The Broncos hosted USC running back Ronald Jones on a pre-draft visit on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jones, a likely first or second round pick, is coming off of a Monday visit with the Redskins.

It’s very unlikely that Jones is in play at No. 5 overall, but the Broncos also hold the eighth pick in the second round (No. 40 overall), so Jones could be a consideration there.

Here’s the latest round of NFL Draft news:

  • South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert visited with the Jaguars, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News tweets. All in all, Goedert says he has worked out for or visited with “15 to 20 teams.”
  • Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill met with the 49ers, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. As a former tight end, O’Neill has tremendous athleticism for the left tackle position.
  • NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb says that he he does not have a visit lined up with the Browns and the same goes for Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. However, that doesn’t mean that either player is out of consideration for Cleveland. The Browns are apparently comfortable with the medicals and character of both players.
  • The Patriots are hosting Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans now that his White House trip is over, Rapoport tweets.