Barrett Jones failed to live up to potential with St. Louis Rams
By James Terry
The St. Louis Rams released 25-year old offensive lineman Barrett Jones on Saturday as the team continues to shake up their offensive line.
Jones had entered training camp this summer battling 27-year old Tim Barnes and 23-year old Demetrius Rhaney for the starting center position. Jones split snaps during the preseason, but will start the season without a job. The release of Jones is coming as a surprise to some, but there is no doubt that he failed to live up to the expectations from a highly decorated collegiate career.
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Jones was a star in college, starting at three different positions on the line for three different National Championship winning teams at the University of Alabama. He won the Outland Trophy for being the nation’s best interior lineman in 2011 and the Rimington Trophy in 2012 for being the best center in the country, making him only the second player ever to win both awards.
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
The versatility that lead to stardom in college didn’t carry over to the professional level after St. Louis drafted the two time All-American in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Back-to-back seasons, plagued by injuries, limited Jones to just ten games and no starts during his two seasons with the Rams.
Barnes had a leg up on Jones and Rhaney to win the starting center job when training camp first opened, having the most experience among the three players competing for the starting gig. He went undrafted out of the University of Missouri in 2011 but has played in 45 games over the last three seasons with the Rams, including four starts in 2013. He seemed destined to be snapping the ball to Nick Foles when the regular season opens.
Even if Jones wasn’t the favorite, he still entered camp as a strong favorite to win the backup job over Rhaney. Rhaney was picked in the seventh round last year out of Tennessee State but didn’t see a single snap of playing time during his rookie season after a knee injury suffered in practice sent him right to injured reserve.
Everything seemed to be in place for Jones to have a spot on the Rams roster for the third year in a row. A seventh round pick, Rhaney, from an FCS school who didn’t play as a rookie isn’t the profile for an ideal candidate when stacked up against Jones, a versatile player who has NFL experience and one of the most impressive college resumes ever assembled for an offensive lineman.
With Jones having spent time at both guard and tackle in the past, even Rhaney having a solid camp should have at least kept him in contention for a job at another position, but his roster spot fell into doubt as the regular season got closer because of poor play all around.
The 53-man roster includes ten offensive lineman, but not having Jones make the cut wasn’t the only surprise. St. Louis shook up the unit by also cutting tackle Isaiah Battle, who the Rams spent a fifth round pick in next year’s NFL draft on when they took him in the supplemental draft this July.
Battle, who has since been signed to the practice squad, saw his draft stock plummet due to a string of off-field issues at Clemson and just didn’t look NFL ready in camp. The team did chose to give undrafted rookie Darrell Williams a roster spot after the former South Florida Bull was able to turn enough heads in camp to force his way onto the week one roster.