Weeks of questions following Jarvis Jones’ decision not to participate at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last month were put to rest when the All-American linebacker got on the field at the University of Georgia’s pro day on Thursday in Athens.
And while the former Carver High standout’s workout, which included a 4.92-second 40-yard dash, may not have done wonders for his draft stock, Jones said he’s confident he’s earned a high pick in the draft.
Maybe even the highest pick.
“I have a goal to be the No. 1 pick,” Jones said. “I’m going to continue to train as if I’m the best.”
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At one point, that’s exactly where a handful of scouts had him ranked. He sat atop Mel Kiper, Jr.’s rankings for much of the 2012 season. Jones said that he’s relying more on the abilities he has shown as a football player than the results of his workout on Thursday.
“I’m not saying those drills aren’t worth something, but you can get someone off the street and (they can) run a 4.3,” he said. “But they can’t play football.”
In addition to his 40 time, which was momentarily hindered by a tweaked muscle on his first attempt, Jones measured 30-5 on his vertical, 9-3 on his broad jump and performed 20 reps on bench. His workout, along with 17 other Bulldogs, was performed in front of representatives from all 32 teams, including a handful of head coaches such as the Jets’ Rex Ryan, the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin and the Falcons’ Mike Smith.
Jones said he didn’t know his final numbers from his workout and wanted to keep it that way.
“I don’t even know what I ran,” Jones said in regards to his 40 time. “I don’t want to know. It was my first 40. At the end of the day, everybody knows I’m a football player. I compete. Today, I left it all out there on the field.”
More important than Jones’ performance in his drills on Thursday was the clean bill of health he received from doctors following physicals to examine his neck, which had been a question following reports that spinal stenosis could affect his ability to play at the next level.
Jones spoke about that on Thursday, citing his health as a reason he did not participate in the combine in Indianapolis.
“The combine takes a lot out of you,” he said. “I was one of the first guys there to see the doctors, and I know I was the last guy to see the doctor. I wanted to maximize my ability, and that’s why I waited until I was here.”
Jones said he knew his medical history would be a question for NFL coaches and that he wanted to get in front of it to show he was ready to play.
He said he met with doctors for all 32 NFL teams and had not been flagged by any of them.
“From the time I made my decision to come to the NFL, I knew everyone would ask about my medical situation,” he said. “I wanted my agent to put me in front of the best spine specialist. Everything went great, but if it didn’t I was ready for it.”
Safety Bacarri Rambo, who worked out on Thursday and is a close friend of Jones, said Jones handled the questions about his health well.
“He learned how to take criticism and just go out there and prove everybody wrong,” Rambo said. “People question his neck and his back and this and that, but he’s been doing this for two years and hasn’t had a problem.”
Ultimately, Jones said his on-field production and intangibles speak for themselves, regardless of how his workouts went on Thursday.
“What I push is the type of player I am,” Jones said. “I’m a leader, have great character. I’m a playmaker. I make plays. I love this game. I’m passionate about it; I’m dedicated to it.”
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt spoke similarly of his former defensive star.
“He was one of the glue guys of this team,” Richt said of Jones. “On the field, he became much more of a vocal leader. He realized guys would respond to his leadership. I have nothing but great things to say about Jarvis.”
And for the NFL scouts, Jones wanted to send one message on Thursday.
“At the end of the day, I think I’m the No. 1 player,” he said. “That’s my opinion. That’s how I feel. At the end of the day, someone’s going to get a great player.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.