One of the best parts of the Scouting Combine is getting to learn about the personalities of each year’s group of NFL Draft prospects. Some players are more willing to share those personalities than others, but it is always refreshing to have a player discuss his hobbies or off-the-field interests openly.
For Houston Cougars offensive tackle Joshua Jones, his off-the-field passion is the cinema.
“I’m a big movie guy,” Jones said on Wednesday in Indianapolis. “Not just watching movies, I go to the movie theater. I want the whole experience.”
As a 6-foot-5, 319-pound offensive lineman, Jones is as big as the screen he is so fond of. He said that he goes to the theater as many as four times a month to see new films, even going by himself because he enjoys it so much.
“I just love great cinema, you know? I feel like today, movies kinda get repetitive. Same things, same endings, so (I like it) when stuff is switched up — like when (Avengers: Infinity War) where nobody thought it was gonna end like that. Joker, come on now. That’s just amazing work.”
Stumped at first when asked what he would do in Hollywood, Jones eventually settled on an answer. “I hadn’t thought about it. I’d say i probably would do the editing. Yeah. Maybe a little camera work,” he said. “Don’t put me on screen, though, I might mess something up.”
On the field instead of in the seats, Jones is a very good athlete who should test well on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Playing in the Cougars’ zone-blocking scheme is a testament to that, but Jones does possess smooth movement skills, even if his technique as a lineman could use some work. He recognizes his strengths and weaknesses, specifically mentioning his base and his hand work as areas of focus.
But when playing in a Group of Five conference, drawing attention can be tough given some big names at the top of this year’s offensive tackle group, especially players from SEC and Big Ten schools. Jones is hearing that teams are watching his tape, though — “finally,” as he put it — and that they see him sticking with his college position. “They see me as a left tackle, definitely,” he said, but added that versatility to move around is always a desirable trait in the NFL. “Obviously you want to be able to move from left to right (or) move inside. That just adds more value to yourself as a player.”
One of the best ways Jones has prepared himself for the NFL is going against a freak athlete in practice: former Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. The 9th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Oliver posted some absurd testing numbers in Indianapolis last year, and Jones had a great story about one of his first days of practice with the Cougars.
“When he first came in to U of H, I’m thinking he’s just another guy, he gotta put on his pants the same way we do. But it was the second day of pads and he’s lined up at nose. They got him at second team, running with the twos. Dude sits there, lifts up our center, tosses him out the way and hits the running back in the backfield. His helmet pops off, the ball flies in the air. I’m like ‘all right, okay, you can go.’”
After that point, Jones and Oliver competed regularly in practice as the best linemen on the team on each side of the ball. “We just went at it. Oklahoma drills, one-on-ones, just to get as many reps as we could against one another.”
Jones is a confident player, but he came to football fairly late in his youth. “I started playing my sophomore year of high school,” he said. The follow-up question of when he knew it would be in his future to play professionally drew a smile and a wry response: “Junior year of high school.”
That realization came as Jones attended George Bush High in Richmond, Texas, just outside of Houston. He’s a Houston guy through and through, so much so that he sports an Astros tattoo on the inside of his right arm. However, when asked about it, he knew where that line of questioning was going and cut off any mention of the team’s recent cheating scandal and punishment before it began; “I’m not answering no questions! Still a fan, though. Teams winning in this city man, I love it.”
Jones is currently projected to be a late first-round or second-round draft pick in April, right in the range of the Green Bay Packers’ selection at #30 overall. If he indeed tests well on Friday, he could be a serious candidate for Green Bay to consider in that range.
And who knows, maybe if he ends up as a Hall of Famer, he’ll get a movie made about his own life someday. Who would play him if that happens?
“I gotta say Denzel.”
Can’t go wrong there.