The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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82 ■ THE WOLFPACKER ■ PACK PROS Josh Jones Is A Big Riser In The Pre-Draft Process BY RYAN TICE F ormer NC State safety Josh Jones turned heads at the NFL Combine with some outstanding results. His 40-yard dash of 4.41 seconds tied for the sixth fastest among all safeties at the event since 2006, while his standing broad jump of 11 feet tied for fifth at his position in the last 12 combines. Additionally, he ranked among the top three safeties this year in the four major tests — 40-yard dash (second among 2017 safeties), bench press (20 repetitions, tied for first), vertical jump (37.5 inches, third) and broad jump (second) — despite being the second-biggest one at the event. His numbers were so impressive that not only were the NFL Network analysts on the live broadcast singing his praises, but six-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson, a cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals, tweeted that Jones was a younger version of his former teammate Adrian Wilson, the former Pack great that checked in at 6-3, 226 pounds and was a five-time Pro Bowler in Arizona. Yet, Jones — who measured in at 6-1 7 ⁄8 and 220 pounds at the combine — was still not satisfied with his performance. "They were okay," he said of his combine results. "I wish I could've run a faster 40, 4.41 — I wanted to see 4.3. I weighed in pretty heavy at the combine … 220, that's pretty big. A few teams had me clocked in the 4.3s — I know the Cardinals had me clocked at 4.37, the Seattle Seahawks had me clocked at 4.38, so teams had a pretty fast time on me, but I wish that official time that came across the screen would've been in the 4.3s." In the combine aftermath, the praise of Jones has only increased. From all reports, he had an impressive pro day March 20 at NC State in front of a crowd that in- cluded representatives from 22 NFL clubs, including Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, Lions defensive backs coach Tony Oden and Bengals defensive backs coach Robert Livingston. "Wouldn't be surprised if NC State safety Josh Jones went in 1st round," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah tweeted March 22. "Tape is great, height/weight/ speed, tough & productive." Jones admitted that while he's heard the buzz as the NFL Draft, held April 27-29, approaches, he's trying to keep his head down and continue working like a "poten- tial undrafted free agent." "I looked at [Jeremiah's tweet] and didn't really think too much about it," he admitted. "I just said to myself, 'All of your hard work is paying off now.' … I've been on Twitter a little bit too much for my own liking. I'm not really a social media guy. Throughout the season, I deleted the whole Twitter app. I don't like to see anything that can corrupt my mind. "I feel like Twitter is the biggest thing that can get to your head, whether it's good or bad. I try to stay away from those things." The NFL Combine was far from easy — Jones remembered getting to sleep at 2 a.m. one night after meeting with what he esti- mated was 17 NFL clubs and then getting woken up the next day at 4 a.m. for a drug test — but it was a dream come true for the kid who always demanded that whatever cable package his mother had in his home state of Michigan included the NFL Net- work, so he could watch the combine. "To be able to compete in this past year's combine was a blessing to me," he said. "You look back on it, it was a fun experi- ence. You don't really get much sleep, but you're sitting in front of coaches you see on TV every Sunday. I sat in front of Coach [Pete] Carroll from the Seahawks; I saw Peyton Manning. I was star struck because I had never seen him in person, and he was my favorite player, which is kind of funny because I'm a defensive player." Jones has continued to meet with recog- nizable names from NFL teams. When he spoke with The Wolfpacker at the end of March, he estimated he had eight to nine vis- its to NFL teams set up, which is significant because each club is only allowed to bring in 30 prospects for pre-draft visits. Those trips have included the Dolphins, Steelers, Panthers, Jets and Redskins. Chad Reuter, whose five-round mock draft went up on NFL.com March 30, pre- dicts Jones to come off the board at No. 28 in the first round to the Dallas Cowboys, while ESPN expert Todd McShay projected Jones to be selected with the franchise's second-round pick, No. 60 overall, in his April 5 mock draft. Although he's not relaxing, all of the feedback Jones has received so far con- firmed that he made the right decision to turn pro with one year of eligibility left. "Obviously, before going into the draft people thought it was a gamble for me," he noted. "Leaving for the draft, I was pro- jected fourth round, but I'm a firm believer in Jesus Christ. My faith is huge, so I took that leap of faith and I felt like it was the right thing to do. … I'm built for this whole Jones is ranked as the No. 41 overall draft prospect by NFL.com expert Daniel Jeremiah, who noted: "Jones is a very gifted athlete with a high upside as a free safety." PHOTO BY LARRY BLANKENSHIP

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