FB : Rising stock: Jones heads into NFL scouting combine trying to boost draft position

first_imgCORRECTION: The names of two coaches from Athletes’ Performance were previously misstated. Their names are Anthony Hobgood and Scott Pucek. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Every morning for the past eight weeks, Chandler Jones woke up to his 6:45 a.m. alarm. The former Syracuse defensive end’s life as an on-campus celebrity was over. Two-a-day workouts, a strict diet and thorough recovery sessions at Athletes’ Performance in Gulf Breeze, Fla., replaced the daily grind of classwork and practice he became accustomed to in his four years at SU. All in preparation for the NFL scouting combine. When the combine begins Wednesday, the leaner, 247-pound Jones will finally get his chance to showcase his progress. ‘It’s kind of similar to the Eminem song ‘Lose Yourself,” Jones said.’ You get one opportunity to seize everything you want in that particular moment.’ AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJones’ moment comes in the form of the combine — his chance to convince teams to use their top selection on him in the NFL Draft on April 26. A strong performance at the invite-only event in Indianapolis, from Feb. 22-28, could be the difference between Jones being a late first-round pick and sliding to the late second or third round of the draft.Jones’ draft stock began to rise in his first game back from an injury this season. After missing five games with a torn ligament in his right knee, Jones broke out against then-No. 11 West Virginia on Oct. 21 with six tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup. He finished the season with 38 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. That production, coupled with a top-three round projection from the NFL Draft Advisory Board led Jones to forego his senior season at Syracuse and declare for the draft.‘I sat down and talked with my family.’ Jones said. ‘Both of my brothers and my mom and dad, they all left it in my hands. They’re the people that say, ‘Hey, it’s your decision, it’s your life, so we’re just going to guide you, and either way, you’re going to be good, and we’re going to support you.’ ‘And that grade came back, and that’s what capped it off.’ ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Jones has the talent to sneak into the first round. He sees Jones as a versatile prospect with excellent speed and pass-rushing instincts, frequently overlooked due to a limited 2011 campaign. His ability to play either standing up or with hand in the dirt makes him an intriguing option to teams who like to vary their defensive schemes.‘I was really impressed with him when I (first) watched tape, and the more games that I watched the more I fell in love with him as a football player,’ McShay said on an ESPN conference call Feb. 16. Though McShay said Jones needs to improve his hands and his play against the run, he slotted Jones No. 23 on his big board of draft candidates. In his most recent mock draft Feb. 2, McShay predicted the New England Patriots will draft him 27th overall.‘No matter where he gets drafted — probably going to be the second round — I think he has a chance to produce like a first-round draft pick,’ McShay said. ‘I think a few years from now we’ll be looking back and saying that he was a value pick in this draft.’McShay also emphasized that though Jones’ injury, which he suffered Sept. 1 against Wake Forest, kept him out five games, it was not recurring. A strong showing in Indianapolis this week could clear any remaining skepticism regarding his knee.Anthony Hobgood, a strength and power development coach at Athletes’ Performance, immediately dismissed the idea that Jones’ knee would hamper him moving forward. And Jones said he has not felt pain in the knee since the week after the Wake Forest game.‘I’m 100 percent confident in my knee’s health,’ Jones said. ‘My MRI came back negative, so we’ll see at the combine when they test it.’Working daily at Athletes’ Performance, Jones shed 18 pounds off his playing weight through his personalized training regimen.Jones started his days with hourlong sessions with Hobgood and speed and movement coach Scott Pucek. His lifts emphasized becoming more explosive, gaining muscular endurance or strength depending on the day. Jones was then stretched out, given a massage and placed in a cold tub. He grabbed a post-workout shake and lunch before returning at 1:30 p.m. for round two of workouts.He then went through the same recovery process and left at 4 p.m. Sometimes his days also included practice handling media and lessons with positional coaches.‘A lot of athletes don’t understand the concept of there’s a time to work and there’s a time to play, and Chandler really does understand that,’ Hobgood said. ‘When he comes in and it’s time for us to train and time for us to do the work, he puts his work boots on, he’s got his hard hat on, so to speak, and he’s ready to go.’Specifically, Jones improved tremendously in the 225-pound bench repetition test and the 40-yard dash, arguably the two most important events at the combine, Hobgood said.Though it is against Athletes’ Performance policy to release expected times and results, Hobgood said he expects Jones to double his bench repetitions from when he began training and place in the ‘upper tier’ of defensive ends in the dash.In the next week, all that training will be put to the test.‘There’s no, ‘Oh, let me do this again,” Jones said. ‘This is a one-time deal. You mess up a drill and you can’t say, ‘Hey, let me redo it.’ You get one shot, so it has to be perfect.’[email protected] Comments Published on February 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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