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Combine numbers pushing Auburn DB Jonathan Jones higher on NFL draft boards

Auburn defensive back Jonathan Jones runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.
Auburn defensive back Jonathan Jones runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. AP Photo

ESPN college football and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay evaluated prospects on a conference call Wednesday coming off last week’s combine.

McShay joined the chorus of experts jumping on former Auburn defensive back Jonathan Jones’ bandwagon.

The Georgia native measured as one of the smallest defensive backs at the combine coming in at 5-foot-9, 186-pounds, but generated buzz with his performance in individual workouts and drills.

“I was really impressed with Jones,” McShay said.

Jones led all defensive backs at the combine with a 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash. It was the third best overall time and the fastest time for an Auburn player at the event in more than 10 years.

The defensive back’s 36-inch vertical jump and 19 reps in the bench press were also attention-grabbing numbers for NFL scouts.

“If you look at the analytics over the years there’s a small correlation between success especially for smaller corners and the bench press,” McShay said. “It sounds stupid. I actually had to double-check everything I was looking at. If you sit back and think about it for a second it kind of makes sense. If your not going to be tall and long, you better have some upper body power to reroute receivers and to go and contest balls in the air.”

Jones size will still be an issue for some teams, but his combine numbers alone could push him into the middle rounds.

“You can’t get over the height, but as a nickel corner he’s got a chance to be a pretty good player,” McShay said. “He certainly helped himself. I wonder if maybe now we are looking at late day two or somewhere early day three, but you run that kind of time history tells you your probably not going to get out of the first four rounds in the draft.”

For Jones, jumping up even a couple rounds would mean a substantial increase in guaranteed money.

Over The Cap calculated the salaries for this year’s rookie pool and estimate the difference between a fourth and sixth round at more than $800,000. The money is split between the signing bonus and base portion of the salary. The signing bonus is the only portion of the contract that is guaranteed.

The four-year starter had his best season as a junior ranking ninth nationally with six interceptions and team-best 11 pass breakups.

As a senior, Jones had a career best 69 tackles, but only one interception. Former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp downplayed Jones lack of impact plays, describing Jones’ play as steady.

“He’s played well coming off the foot injury,” Muschamp said before the Iron Bowl. “We’ve had to hold him a little bit week-to-week with some pain tolerance issues, as far as the pain is concerned in his foot, but he is a guy that has had a very steady senior year.”

Auburn hosts its pro day on Monday, but it isn’t clear if Jones will participate in the morning full of workouts. The Tigers plan on releasing a list of participants at the end of the week.