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Jon Gaines
NFL Draft

Jon Gaines II NFL Draft 2023 Prospect Interview

  • Justin Melo
  • April 6, 2023
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UCLA offensive guard Jon Gaines II is one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft. Gaines’ lower-body explosion was on display at the NFL Scouting Combine via a 32.5-inch vertical and 9-foot-6 broad jump. Gaines ran the 40 in a blazing 5.01 seconds at 303 pounds. Gaines also posted an elite 3-cone time of 7.31 seconds.

Gaines recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his exceptional performance at the combine, his preferred scheme fits, which teams have shown interest in his services, and so much more.

JM: What a performance you put forth at the NFL Scouting Combine. You ran a 5.01 in the 40. You leaped a 9-foot-6 broad jump. Do you think you surprised scouts with your performance?

Jon Gaines II: Yeah, I think I did. The goal was to go out there and prove to everybody that I have elite athleticism. I had been preparing for the combine at a training facility near UCLA and the entire process went very smoothly. I definitely showcased what I’m capable of. 

Hopefully, it was a surprising performance in a good way (laughs). 

JM: Have you noticed an uptick in the attention you’re receiving since then?

Jon Gaines II: Yeah, I have. It was also huge for me to receive an opportunity to attend two all-star games. I was present at both the NFLPA Bowl and the East-West Shrine Bowl. Those two events really helped get my name buzzing in certain pre-draft circles. 

Having that great NFL Scouting Combine helped me as well. It’s all been trending upward for me ever since. That’s a really good sign in my opinion.

JM: When we turn the tape on, we see an offensive lineman that has quick feet and fluid hips in the run game. You play with an aggressive mentality in run blocking. How did you develop that approach?

Jon Gaines II: Running the football was the biggest emphasis for our offensive line at UCLA. Ever since I first arrived at UCLA, we’ve always been a run-first unit. I’ve been blessed to play with a lot of great teammates. We had a great quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson. We had four NFL-quality running backs including Zach Charbonnet and Joshua Kelley.

We’ve had so many great offensive linemen as well, guys like Sean Rhyan. I can go on and on. My teammates and I, especially this past season, our starters like Raiqwon O’Neal,  Atonio Mafi, Duke Clemens, Garrett DiGiorgio, and myself, we wanted to go out there and establish our dominance on film.

We wanted every opponent to know that our offensive line was the heartbeat of our team. We didn’t hide our intentions. Our coaches made that very clear. We set the standard. We’re running the ball. Everybody knows we’re running the ball and yet there’s nothing they can do about it. We preached that every single day at practice. We carried it with us. We played at such a high level as a unit because we all worked towards achieving the same goal.

JM: It’s evident on tape. Can you see yourself playing in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level? I feel like that’s where your athleticism really shines.

Jon Gaines II: Zone was a big part of our offense my last few seasons at UCLA. I’ve had a ton of experience executing zone-based concepts. When it comes to having an amazing coach like Chip Kelly, you know he exposed us to a ton on offense. He put us in a lot of different situations to attack the opposition.

Running zone is something I really enjoyed. I enjoy running the football more than anything.

JM: You’ve mostly played right guard, but do you have some center in your background as well? Have teams discussed the possibility of you playing center, or has it mostly been right guard?

Jon Gaines II: My biggest selling point outside of athleticism and my high football IQ is versatility. I’ve started a game at every single position at UCLA besides left tackle. I’ve played both guard positions, center, and right tackle. Versatility is something I really like to harp on because versatility gets you paid and ensures you enjoy a long career at the next level. Teams are always looking for versatility.

Our coaches trusted me to do a lot while I was at UCLA because they knew I could handle it. I always put my best foot forward. Whenever they put me on the field, I knew I was going to play at a high level.

JM: Your bio says you’re an avid video gamer. I assume you’ve played or watched The Last of Us. Let’s say you’re Joel or Ellie. Who would you bring on a cross-country mission to save the world?

Jon Gaines II: That’s easy (laughs). I’d go with my former teammate Alec Anderson. He’s with the Buffalo Bills now and he’s doing well for them. I trust him with my life. He became one of my best friends from the very beginning at UCLA. He went undrafted and got picked up by the Bills. Alec and I are locked in together. We enjoyed every day together. We explored the city together and he’s been my friend ever since. He’s the most dependable guy I know.

JM: We’ve appreciated your time today. What kind of impact is Jon Gaines II going to make at the next level?

Jon Gaines II: Everybody that knows me in the world of football has always said that I’ve shown up every single day with the same dedicated mentality. I take a lot of pride in that. I show up ready to work. That’s not going to change at the next level. It’s only going to get amplified.

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Justin Melo