FB : Jones continues to impress scouts at Syracuse pro day; Healthy Long aims to get shot in NFL
When Chandler Jones finished all of his workouts at Thursday’s pro day, the scout representing the New York Giants walked over and told him he could be a part of history. Two years ago, the Super Bowl champions drafted defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul out of South Florida.
After seeing Jones build on his impressive results at the NFL Combine, the scout presented the scenario of the Giants drafting another defensive end out of the Big East.
‘Their scout, he came up to me and he was like ‘you know, we made history. We got Jason Pierre-Paul, and you, you’re both from the Big East,” Jones said. ‘If I did have the opportunity to play with that history of defensive lineman, that would be great.’
With another strong performance, Jones is accruing a deep list of NFL teams interested in his services.
Jones was among a group of 14 former Orange football players who participated at Syracuse’s pro day inside Manley Field House Thursday afternoon. Three of the players who worked out in front of scouts graduated played their senior seasons in 2010, including Rob Long, Jose Cruz and Aaron Weaver. Will Hicks, SU’s assistant athletics director for athletic performance, said 31 of the 32 NFL teams sent representatives to Syracuse Thursday, and called it ‘one of the biggest days we’ve had in a long time.’ It’s all leading up to the NFL Draft, which will take place in New York City on April 28-30.
Jones and former SU safety Phillip Thomas are seeing attention from multiple teams. Jones said he’s couldn’t pinpoint an exact number of teams he’s heard from, but said the Giants seemed to have a bit more interest after his numbers at the combine and at pro day.
At the combine that took place late last month in Indianapolis, Jones finished in the top 15 of defensive lineman in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.87 seconds, and also had one of the best results in the vertical jump at 35 inches.
But he still managed to improve that at pro day.
‘Chandler re-jumped and had a higher vertical today,’ Hicks said. ‘And then Chandler did exceptional in the position work today, and he worked out by the linebackers’ coaches and defensive line coaches.’
During the positional workouts Thursday, Jones went through both defensive line drills and outside linebacker drills, as teams continue to assess what position they believe fits him best. Jones said he’s hoping he’s been sparking some interest from teams that run 3-4 defenses.
Jones is coming off a bout with a stomach flu, and lost 11 pounds, going from 266 pounds to 255, since the combine.
Thomas, who was suspended from the Orange in mid-November for an undisclosed violation, said the Redskins, Eagles, Buccaneers, Bengals, Lions and Ravens have all reached out to him.
While Jones excelled at the combine, Thomas struggled.
Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds, just 18th fastest of the safeties that participated at the combine, but said he improved at pro day.
‘It’s been a good experience, but it’s tiring,’ Thomas said. ‘It’s like a job interview, it’s like people asking you the same questions 32 times. It is all a slow process. At the combine, I took like seven different tests, with 235 questions each, asking the same thing.’
Former SU tailback Antwon Bailey also worked out at pro day in his first opportunity to impress NFL scouts, since Bailey didn’t attend the combine.
Bailey said he was satisfied with his results, and that he’s been talking with former Syracuse running backs Curtis Brinkley and Delone Carter for insight into what he should expect during this process.
‘I had a decent day,’ Bailey said. ‘I did pretty well. I was able to showcase what I could do within the range of the drills, and then everything that we had to do. … I definitely think I impressed them with everything that I was able to do.’
Bailey’s and Thomas’ futures in the NFL are still murky, but his former teammates Jones’ is close to guaranteed. After another day of impressive results in front of NFL scouts, it’s just a matter of where he ends up.
In a little over a month, he’ll know for sure.
‘They all said I did a good job and were impressed,’ Jones said. ‘So I’m excited to see what team I go to.’
Long looks to make camp
Completely free of the cancer that kept him off the sidelines for his senior season, Rob Long took part in his second pro day to hopefully pique some interest from NFL scouts. Long worked out at last season’s pro day, but had just gotten over the cancer and wasn’t completely healthy.
This year, he said he felt significantly better and his punts reflected that.
‘I punted really well,’ Long said. ‘I hit the ceiling every time, so I guess there’s something to be said for that. There’s some interest, I hopefully opened up a few eyes and trying to make my way into camp somewhere.’
Bailey said it was good to see his former teammate back out on the field working out for the scouts in attendance after all that Long has been through.
‘It felt good. It’s a wonderful story,’ Bailey said. ‘A great player, a great person, who’s overcome adversity like no other.’
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