Here's another surprise: according to one NFL team executive, Jones could have been drafted as high as the top 10 or 15 picks.
"Maybe he would have gone in the second round," the executive told foxsports.com, "but I think it's just as likely (he) could have gone in the top 10 or 15. Look at that body, that arm -- and look at his competition (in the draft)."
The same executive also expressed surprise that Jones (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) decided to return to Ohio State. With more experienced options ahead of him in Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, Jones waited his turn until injuries to both -- Miller in August, Barrett in November -- cleared the way for Jones to start and win three consecutive postseason games to cap a national championship season. Just a couple days after beating Oregon in the national title game, Jones announced at his high school that he would return to OSU to compete with Miller and Barrett.
While Jones' draft stock -- for the 2015 draft or any other -- is nothing but speculative now, another source told foxsports.com Jones can develop more effectively at the college level than he could in the NFL.
"In a way I'm glad he (returned). He needs reps, even spring reps. He needs time," the source said. "The problem with the NFL is it would take a unique situation for a team to draft him and not feel the pressure to play him next year, probably before he's ready."
Certainly, Jones had no guarantees had he entered the draft. But as Jones himself pointed out, OSU coach Urban Meyer hasn't made him any promises, either.