The St. Louis Rams were definitely one of the winners of the 2013 NFL Draft. They did well to address their biggest needs by drafting wide receiver Tavon Austin, linebacker Alec Ogletree, and safety T.J. McDonald with their first three picks. But one of the best choices they made in the draft was using their fourth round pick on offensive lineman Barrett Jones, a hidden gem in the draft who figures to have a long and successful NFL career.
With all that Jones brings to the table, it’s amazing that he didn’t come off the board before the fourth round, where he became a huge steal for the Rams. He was a four-year starter in college, playing in the trenches of the SEC, which is the best place to prepare for a career in the NFL. He helped the Alabama Crimson Tide win three national championships, and did so while playing three different positions along the offensive line; first right guard, then left tackle, and finally playing center during his senior season.
Jones didn’t just play those positions adequately; he excelled at them. As a left tackle in 2011, he was first team All-SEC and winner of the Outland Trophy. As a center in 2012, he was first team All-SEC, a consensus All-American, and winner of the Rimington Trophy.
In addition to being an accomplished player, Jones is an intelligent and high character person. He left Alabama with a Master’s Degree and carried a 4.0 GPA throughout his academic career. The qualities Jones possesses away from the field can’t be ignored, as they give him intangibles that translate onto the field such as leadership, work ethic, and intelligence that can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing.
Where Jones will play on the field this season is yet to be determined, but he has the versatility to help the Rams at all five offensive line positions. He’s also the type of person that the Rams should be proud to have as a member of their organization. He should be both a valuable player and person for many years to come, and could end up being the gem of the Rams’ draft class.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.