NFL Draft: We are talking about the wrong LSU Football offensive tackle

Will Campbell is good, but we are talking about the wrong LSU offensive tackle.
Sep 30, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers offensive linemen Emery Jones Jr. (50) lines up
Sep 30, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers offensive linemen Emery Jones Jr. (50) lines up / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2024 NFL Draft has come to a close, but it's never too early to jump ahead to next year's class. And under a microscope today? The LSU Football offensive tackles Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr., because too much emphasis has been taken away from the one who deserves the limelight.

While Campbell is a future first round pick and a fine offensive tackle in his own regard, we must turn our attention to the man across from him at right tackle: Emery Jones Jr.

From his tape, athletic traits, and projection to the NFL level, there is a firm reason to believe that Jones Jr. has what it takes to be drafted early in the 2025 NFL Draft. And potentially before the more-hyped-up Campbell.

Let's talk about it.

Get to know Emery Jones Jr.

A former four-star recruit and from Baton Rouge, Jones committed to the LSU Football program in July of 2021. Highly recruited, Jones had offers from Alabama, Florida, and every imaginable SEC program. Since coming to LSU, like Campbell, Jones has started every single game since his true freshman year.

Showered in accolades over the past two seasons, Jones has racked up award after award. LSU's offensive line as a whole was named as a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, and Jones himself has been named as a true freshman All-American (2022), All-SEC freshman team (2022), SEC offensive lineman of the week against Missouri (2023), was named second-team All-SEC (2023), and was even named LSU's offensive lineman of the year over Campbell by his coaching staff.

“He makes good choices, good decisions. He is never late to anything. He is reliable. This is a guy that we can count on. He is so reliable and that goes to his background, his family, and his high school. He is exceptional.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly on Jones Jr.

Tools off the charts

What makes me prioritize Jones Jr. over Campbell has much to do not only with his athletic tools, but how that athleticism shows up on tape. The biggest advantage that Jones Jr. has over Campbell is the flexibility that he plays with.

With plenty of knee bend and explosiveness out of his stance, Jones Jr. has plenty of ability to hang with edge rushers who specialize in speed and bend off the edge. A prime example of this was in his matchup against Alabama and the No. 17 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Dallas Turner.

Turner's go-to move that he wins with frequently is his cross chop. What this move does is attack the hands of the offensive tackle across from him to expose the outside shoulder. Turner possesses great bend to win on the outside track with ease, which is why he was a top pick in the draft.

However, going against Jones Jr., he is stonewalled and stood up as he tried to work his outside shoulder.

Another elite trait that Jones Jr. possesses is his anchor strength, and that is largely due to his core strength and the previously mentioned flexibility. Reminding me of Tyler Smith, a first round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2022, Jones Jr.'s flexibility allows for him to dig his heels in and drop his anchor from some funky and disadvantageous-looking positions.

In this clip below, Jones Jr. is working against Chris Braswell, a second round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Braswell does a great job getting into Jones Jr.'s chest, converting speed-to-power. However, even with Braswell in his chest, Jones Jr.'s shows the flexibility and core strength to absorb the blow and still dig in his heels to provide Heisman-winner and second overall pick Jayden Daniels with a clean pocket to throw from instead of getting blown back into his lap.

Other strengths that Jones Jr. possesses revolve around is hands. With a massive punch, Jones Jr. can provide a real shock value to the man across from him when he lands it. It's not hard to find clips of Jones Jr. generating movement off the ball in the run game. His grip strength is eye-popping as well, as he latches in pass protection at a high level. When he gets his hands on the man across from him, it's frequently a rep-ender.

He's not a finished product, however. He can clean up his footwork in the run game, work on the placement of his hands, and recognize some spacing issues that are the cause for some oversets when edge rushers force him outside before redirecting back inside.

But what Jones Jr. does is extremely hard to teach.

This is not a put-down on Will Campbell!

Reiterating again, Will Campbell is a very good football player who deserves the hype he is getting. This is not an anti-Will Campbell article. However, there are some aspects of his game that have not been brought up a ton yet in the early part of summer scouting.

While Jones Jr. is usually the player that analysts want to kick inside to guard, there is reason to believe that Campbell is the one with less length and may be better suited to play inside. Campbell is an ox. He is extremely hard to work through the chest of. In fact, it's a futile effort to attack him with power.

However, as mentioned, where Jones Jr. thrives is combatting those edge rushers who win with speed and bend. This is how the majority of attackers off the edge are going to win at the next level. Going against Turner in LSU's matchup against Alabama, this is an area I saw Campbell struggle a bit with.

While Campbell won his fair share of matchups against the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings, Turner also got his against the LSU left tackle. And they call came along the outside track as Campbell struggled to protect his outside shoulder. This stems from a minut lack of length (he will get the same treatment Jonah Williams got coming from Alabama in 2021), but more importantly, Campbell has heavier feet than Jones Jr. and struggles to get depth in his set to stay aligned to the likes of Turner.

Once again, Campbell is an excellent football player who is incredibly strong, but Jones Jr. does a better job against speed and bend while also possessing top-notch core strength to combat defenders from working through his chest.

Putting a bow on it

For the third and final time I must reiterate: this is not a piece about Will Campbell. This is not a piece meant to diminish the player that Campbell is and has been at LSU. Campbell deserves the first round hype he has been getting.

This piece, however, serves the purpose of turning the spotlight away from the left tackle and onto LSU Football's right tackle instead.

Jones Jr. possesses length, nastiness, athleticism that shows up in his anchor and ability to handle speed off the edge, and tools that project extremely well at the next level. He has handled the likes of Alabama's Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell (both picked in the top two rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft) with almost ease. Florida State's Jared Verse (another first round pick) found more success rushing against the left tackle than he did the right tackle as well.

Entering his true junior year, Jones Jr. has the chance to add to his already illustrious resume. Starting every game since he arrived on campus at LSU, Jones Jr. has seen the toughest of competition and handled the toughest of competition. He's battle-tested and battle-proven.

And the scary part is he still has the sky-high ceiling to continue to get better.

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Cory Kinnan