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Ohio State QB Cardale Jones leaving Buckeyes for NFL draft

By Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange   |   Dec. 30, 2015 at 3:27 PM
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Ohio State junior quarterback Cardale Jones revealed on Wednesday that he intends to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. He indicated after the Buckeyes' final home game that his time at Ohio State was coming to an end, but it was unknown whether he would transfer to another school or go pro.

Jones is currently ranked as the No. 6 draft-eligible quarterback in the 2016 class and a possible top 100 draft pick by NFLDraftScout.com.

Following a three-game stretch last season that helped lead Ohio State to the national title, Jones considered entering the 2015 NFL Draft as a redshirt sophomore but decided to return to Columbus. He began this past season as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback, but it was quickly evident that J.T. Barrett was the better fit, relegating Jones to a backup role.

In 10 games in 2015 (eight starts), Jones is completing 62.5 percent of his passes (110-for-176) for 1,460 passing yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has 193 yards on the ground with a pair of rushing scores. Jones hasn't played poorly compared to last season, but he has not shown much growth, either, despite leaving Ohio State with an 11-0 record as a starting quarterback.

Jones has above-average size and arm strength for the NFL with enough mobility to extend plays, but his inconsistent decision-making and accuracy show how raw he is right now.

If he had declared last season, Jones likely would have been drafted in the second-round range.

What is his draft projection now? It's tough to say because while the physical tools are intriguing, the mental side of his game is a work in progress and he hasn't shown ideal development for a 23-year-old prospect. If he performs well throughout the draft process, Jones' projection will likely land in the second- to fourth-round range.

--Dane Brugler is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.

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