Alabama’s Barrett Jones is listed at center, but he played every position on the offensive line—center, guard, and offensive tackle—during his time in college.
Jones is a technically-sound offensive lineman that played center in his most recent season at Alabama. His stature—6’5’’, 302 pounds—is tall and lean, so he doesn’t overpower in either the running game or pass protection. Instead, Jones uses top-notch technique to limit the impact of his defender.
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As a run blocker, Jones plays really intelligently. He doesn’t blow defenders off of the ball, but he gets in their way just enough that they can’t make the tackle. He uses excellent body position to wall off defenders from the point-of-attack. He’s not overly aggressive and could benefit from engaging and driving defenders, but again, he’s not a big-time power player.
In pass protection, Jones does a good job of using his long arms to ward off interior defensive linemen. He generally maintains a good base and he’s fundamentally-sound, but he can get driven back if he doesn’t keep good leverage. Since he’s tall, shorter defensive linemen can sometimes force him upright and drive him backwards.
NFL Comparison: Alex Mack
Like current Browns center Alex Mack, Jones isn’t extremely powerful or athletic, but he uses solid technique to get the job done. Mack might be a bit more powerful at the point, but both players have versatility to move around the line.
Jones’ versatility will help his draft stock. He’ll probably play center in the NFL, but teams will covet a player who has the potential to fill in anywhere. That means Jones will probably get selected as the first center off of the board, somewhere in the second round. Because of his lack of athleticism/explosiveness, I’d label Jones as a late-second to early-third round talent.
Fit In Dallas
The Cowboys certainly need interior linemen. Even if they plan to start Phil Costa at center, guard Mackenzy Bernadeau struggled in a big way in 2012 and Nate Livings isn’t a long-term solution at left guard. If they view Jones as a guard, I think there’s a better chance he lands in Dallas. It would have to be in the middle of the second round, and it’s unclear if Jones will fall that far, although there’s not a huge market for interior linemen without great strength or athleticism.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.