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Cardinals Grab Offensive Tackle Josh Jones In Third Round

Houston product falls into chance to battle Gilbert, Murray at right tackle

The Cardinals took offensive tackle Josh Jones with their third-round pick in the 2020 draft.
The Cardinals took offensive tackle Josh Jones with their third-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Josh Jones thought there was a chance he could be picked in the first round in this year's NFL draft.

He definitely thought he would go in the second round at worst.

But the Houston offensive tackle was there in the third round, eight picks in, which might not have been his ideal scenario – but it was for the Cardinals Friday night.

"He was certainly not a player I anticipated seeing at the 72nd spot," general manager Steve Keim said, noting Jones was in the team's top 30 players on their draft board.

Said coach Kliff Kingsbury with a smile, "Good karma, I think," in part because of a number of ties with the Houston coaching staff.

"There was a lot of good kind of synergy going there," Kingsbury added. "We did not expect him to be there."

The draft can be an odd thing, the 6-foot-5, 319-pound Jones acknowledged. He had been ranked as the No. 39 overall player by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah; Pro Football Focus had Jones as the No. 14 overall player.

"I think the chip is on my shoulder, man, for every team that passed on me," Jones said.

The Cardinals didn't have a second-round pick, having sent it to the Texans in the trade for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. So their lone pick Friday was not surprisingly spent on a tackle, after that was a position many thought the Cards would go in the first round.

D.J. Humphries just signed a contract extension to play left tackle. But right tackle now has Jones in a mix that includes veteran Marcus Gilbert, who was supposed to start there in 2019 but tore up his knee right before the regular season began, and Justin Murray, who improved as the season went on as Gilbert's stand-in as starter.

Kingsbury also said the Cardinals like the development of 2019 seventh-round pick Joshua Miles.

"To not have to rush (Jones) into a spot is going to be helpful," Kingsbury said.

That doesn't mean Jones doesn't want to be out there. He started 45 games in college, all on the left side, but said he was comfortable moving to the right side and also believes he could start immediately.

"I feel like I'm one of the play-ready tackles in this draft," Jones said. "The Cardinals got a good one, man. I'm coming in ready to work."

Interestingly, the player comp for Jones was a former starter for the Cardinals at right tackle: Bobby Massie. Kingsbury said Jones made giant strides as a senior, allowing only two pressures all season and one sack – an impressive feat given that the Cougars' offense of Dana Holgorsen is from the same family as Kingsbury's offense.

Holgorsen was the coach that gave Kingsbury his start in coaching. And Houston's offensive line coach, Brandon Jones, was Kingsbury's offensive line coach at Texas Tech in 2017-18.

Keim said he was never close to trading back up into the second round. He said there were only a couple of positions the Cards wouldn't consider taking Saturday on the draft's final day, when the Cards have four picks – two in the fourth round, one in the sixth and one in the seventh.

The GM was asked if he felt lucky that linebacker Isaiah Simmons in the first round and Jones in the third fell to the Cards, considered how both were expected by many to be drafted earlier. Keim noted that the lost second-round pick also begat Hopkins, a three-time All-Pro.

"2020 is our year, I guess," Keim quipped, before adding. "You have to trust your board and the way you build it."

Jones might not have loved how his draft drop played out, but he isn't blaming his new team.

"It's kind of upsetting but I'm happy it's over now," Jones said. "I'm happy I was chosen by the Cardinals and it's going to be a great time."