The pre-draft process for Jarvis Jones had been dominated by medical questions surrounding him.
Thursday’s pro day workout at Georgia was a chance for the pass rusher to show what he can do on a field after he skipped the NFL combine drills last month while he focused on MRIs and X-rays.
The results weren’t overwhelming.
Granted, it wasn’t a game, but Jones’ 40-yard dash time certainly won’t shoot a player considered a first-round pick up team draft boards.
Jones ran a pedestrian 4.92 40 before nearly 100 NFL scouts, coaches and team executives representing all 32 teams. He ran in windy conditions on a 40 degree day on the FieldTurf surface, but he took it in stride.
“At the end of the day, everybody knows what I do,” Jones said. “I’m a football player. I compete. Today, I left it on the field, man. It is what it is. Now I’ve got to take my visits, continue to better my craft and become a better football player.”
Judging by his two All-American seasons at outside linebacker for Georgia — including leading the nation last season with 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles — Jones’ production on the college level can’t be questioned.
“I don’t see a 4.9 guy on tape,” said Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, who was at Georgia after pro day stops at Florida State and Tennessee this week. “I think it is a little bit of a red flag and teams have to go back and teams have to take another look at the tape because 4.9, let’s face it, (Notre Dame’s) Manti Te’o got killed for running 4.8 at the combine. I didn’t expect to see 4.9. I thought he looked pretty good in the drill work, though. I think he’s explosive in short areas.”
On the first of his two 40 runs on Thursday, Jones grimaced at the end and then grabbed his left leg.
“I can’t even tell you what happened,” he said. “I really think I missed a step like I got outside my steps and missed a step. I don’t know if I overstepped or understepped, but it felt weird.”
Mayock said teams with 3-4 defenses will like the 6-foot-2, 248-pound Jones as an edge rusher, but teams with 4-3 defenses will wonder if he can play strongside linebacker now.
“I think you go back to the tape and you decide what kind of a football player,” Mayock said. “A 4.9 scares me a little bit, but some guys play faster than they time.”
Said Jones: “I’m a playmaker. I make plays. … You can get somebody off the street to run a 4.3 but they can’t play football. That’s easy.”
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, whose team has the No. 3 overall pick, and New York Jets general manager John Idzik, who has the No. 9 pick, were both on hand to watch Jones, linebacker Alec Ogletree and 15 other former Georgia players.
Jones’ 40 time would have only been ahead of Virginia Tech’s Bruce Taylor among linebackers at the combine, according to NFL.com.
“Game film always supersedes 40 times,” McKenzie said. “Forty times, all these numbers just give you guidelines. That’s all. The importance level is far below what he does on the field.”
Jones’s broad jump was 9 feet, 3 inches, his vertical jump was 30.5 inches and he did 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press. That was three less than cornerback Sanders Commings but the same number Ogletree did in Indianapolis.
Jones didn’t work out at the combine because he wanted to focus on answering questions about his spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that caused doctors at Southern California to not clear him to play after suffering an injury during his freshman season. He transferred to Georgia, where the medical staff examined him and gave him the go-ahead to resume his college career.
“I’m cleared medically — a blessing,” Jones said. “I think I was one of the first guys there to see the doctors, and I know I was the last guy to see the doctor. It takes a lot out of you, poking and prodding and MRIs, X-rays. People don’t see that, but that’s what goes on.”
Jones said doctors and spine specialists from NFL teams told him he was “fine” at the combine. That was in line with a a report Jones said teams got from orthopedist Craig Brigham.
Asked if there was a consensus on Jones’ medical evaluation, Oakland’s McKenzie said: “No, it’s a whole lot of questions. It’s all about wrapping their arms around and getting their hands on all the information and then kind of having every team doctor — in our case — our team doctor dissecting everything.
Jones met with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday and said he has meetings scheduled with Kansas City, Philadelphia and Detroit.
Ogletree, another first-round prospect, on Thursday ran a 4.63 40, improving on a 4.70 from the combine.
“I just wanted to improve one thing throughout the whole day, if anything,” Ogletree said. “That was pretty good.”
Ogletree, who led Georgia in tackles last season with 111 as a junior, “looked really athletic in the movement skill drills, but that’s what he is,” Mayock said. “I don’t think anything really changed for him. You’ve got to figure the kid out.”
Ogletree has off-field issues including a DUI arrest before the combine and a four-game suspension this season for reportedly failing his second drug test. He said he has “to make better decisions in my life.”
A decision on whether to go to New York for the draft if invited is easy.
“My mom wants to go,” he said. “I told her that if we get invited, I’ll go. … It’ll be a first time (in New York) for us.”
Cornerback Branden Smith won’t be going, but he may have opened some eyes when he ran a 4.38 40 that would have placed him third among defensive backs at the NFL combine. He also had the best broad jump of the day of 10-8.
Mayock said safety Bacarri Rambo, who ran a 4.59 40 and had a 34.5-inch vertical jump, had a good day in the measurables and in the position drills, and that nose guards John Jenkins (who checked in at 6-foot-4 and 343 pounds) and Kwame Geathers (6-6, 335) “both looked good. Their weight was down and they looked quick and active.”
NFL head coaches in attendance Thursday were Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, New York Jets’ Rex Ryan and Atlanta’s Mike Smith. Defensive coordinators Rob Ryan from New Orleans and Jack Del Rio from Denver were also on hand.
Georgia is likely to set a program record next month for most NFL draft picks, topping the eight taken in the 2002 draft.
“I’m hoping it gets at least into the double digits,” Georgia coach Mark Richt. “A day like today is so big for the players, but it was big for Georgia as well.”