It's official: Tony Jones Jr. has declared for the NFL draft after another quality season in South Bend.
When a player declares early for the NFL Draft, they are given either a first- or second-round grade. If their grade is lower than that, it's suggested they return to school. This means that Jones got the feedback he needed to hear to pull the trigger on this life-changing move.
Here at Irish On Tap, we have stressed the importance of Jones in our offense. He has been so effective because of his ability to be a three-down back, he's tough to bring down, and he's deceptively elusive, especially when in open space. Over the years, Jones has also found success in catching passes out of the backfield, with the most notable coming against USC last season in walk-off fashion to essentially secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The chips stack in Tony's favor as he has been productive over the years for Notre Dame. He finished the 2019 season with 144 carries, 857 yards, six touchdowns on the ground, and one score through the air. A number that particularly stands is his six yards per carry this season and 5.5 yards per carry for his career. While Jones will certainly be missed in South Bend, expect him to make the same level of impact at the next level. As for the Irish, now it is time for guys like Jafar Armstrong and Jahmir Smith to fill the role that Jones leaves behind. Jones will join a quality group of players, the likes of Chase Claypool, Alohi Gilman, and presumable future New England Patriot slot receiver Chris Finke, amongst a handful of other players in the 2020 NFL Draft. For Mr. Jones, I leave you all with one final gem from his career in South Bend.
Featured Photo: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP