With pro days all over the country canceled in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the New England Patriots have turned to FaceTime to get in touch with some potential draft targets over the last few weeks. They have had four reported meetings entering this week, and added a fifth one recently: according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Patriots are among 13 NFL teams to hold a video call with Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones.
Jones is considered one of the top players at his position this year, and might hear his name called as early as the first round — for good reason: the 6-foot-5, 319-pound lineman brings a tremendous athletic skillset to the table, has a high ceiling as both a run blocker and a pass protector, is capable of lining up on both the left and the right side of the line, and has had good production during his four years as a starter for the Cougars.
While his technique needs to be refined and he might benefit from playing the third/backup swing tackle role in 2020, his ceiling is a high one and he has the makings of a starting-caliber player. The Patriots, of course, do not have an immediate need for that which makes Jones a potential target for them: Isaiah Wynn has looked good during limited action as the team’s left tackle, but right-side counterpart Marcus Cannon is getting up there in age.
Selecting Jones in the late first or early second round would give New England a developmental player to groom behind the soon-to-be 32-year-old Cannon. That said, a lot depends on second-year tackle Yodny Cajuste who was drafted by the team in the third round in 2019: Cajuste missed his entire rookie campaign while recovering from offseason quad surgery, but should be good to go whenever New England opens its training camp.
Nevertheless, Jones certainly is one of the most intriguing offensive tackle prospects this year. With the top three at the position — Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton — projected to be drafted within the first 15 picks, the Houston product could become the fourth player taken by the end of the first round. That is of course right where the Patriots, who hold the 23rd overall selection, are scheduled to pick.