Ronald Jones II Drafted by Buccaneers; Twitter Excited About Big-Play Potential

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2018

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 11:  Ronald Jones II #25 of the USC Trojans carries the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 11, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected USC Trojans running back Ronald Jones II with the 38th overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft Friday. 

Here's how social media reacted to the pick:

After two solid seasons with USC, Jones broke out in 2017, running for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns on 261 carries. He also caught 14 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown.

Jones failed to hit the century mark in rushing in just four of the 13 games he played for USC last term. Illustrating his importance to the offense, the Trojans lost two of those games, and a third saw USC require double overtime to beat the Texas Longhorns.

The running back's standout performance came in the Trojans' 48-17 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils. He carried the ball 18 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

Because so many football fans were focusing on his quarterback, Sam Darnold, Jones was somewhat overlooked at USC. This year's draft class is pretty deep at running back as well, with Jones, Saquon Barkley, Guice, Sony Michel and Kerryon Johnson all warranting first- or second-round consideration.

Even this early in the draft, however, Jones could prove to be a steal for the Buccaneers.

In September, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah compared Jones to Jamaal Charles, which is extremely high praise given how great Charles was before injuries derailed his career.

"He's always been an explosive runner, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field," Jeremiah wrote.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller provided an almost exact assessment:

Jones' workload could be a factor in his long-term potential at the next level as well.

Since he didn't become USC's unquestioned feature back until 2017, Jones didn't log the kind of carries others in the 2018 class did. He had 623 total touches—591 carries and 32 receptions—with the Trojans. Barkley, in comparison, had 773 touches with the Penn State Nittany Lions.

While the former Trojan's 261 carries as a junior are on the higher side, he didn't put a worrying amount of wear and tear on his body over his college career.

Although Jones' frame (6'0" and 200 lbs.) does raise some concerns about whether he can be a running back who carries the ball 20 or 30 times a game in the NFL. All of the physical tools are there for him to become a dynamic option out of the backfield for Tampa Bay.

With Barkley and Michel off the board, selecting Jones was the best way for the Buccaneers to improve their running game through the draft.

After he averaged 2.9 yards per carry over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, it became clear the Buccaneers needed to move on from Doug Martin and find a new starting running back in 2018.

Tampa Bay completed the first half of that equation when it released Martin in February, and by not signing a free-agent running back, the Bucs showed they were content to wait until the draft to find a replacement.

Jones not only fills an obvious need for the Buccaneers, but he also represents good value early in the second round.

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