Connecticut’s Byron Jones is a freakishly strong and fast — a 4.3 40! — cornerback.
By Michael McCarthy
It’s not unusual for Eagles Supreme Leader Chip Kelly to attend college pro days so they can personalize the experience for prospects in the April 30 NFL draft.
Cornerback Byron Jones.
They were glad to have made the trip.
Shortly after Jones crossed the finish line with a 4.36-second 40-yard dash before several scouts and coaches at the UConn Pro Day Tuesday morning, one NFL representative could be heard saying, “That’s … ridiculous.”
And soon this might be heard: Cha-Chiiiing!
A payday is coming for Jones, who continues to impress as the NFL draft gets closer. His 40 time didn’t hurt. Neither did his 18 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench, pretty good for a player who had shoulder surgery in October and whose personal record on the bench before Tuesday was 16.
And we already know about his world record-setting performance in the broad jump (12 feet, 3 inches) and 44.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February.
That’s … ridiculous.
“I did pretty good,” said Jones, among nine Huskies who tested, did drills and individual position work for 29 NFL teams.
“I wish I did a little better in position drills. We had a coach out there to teach me some new technique. I wish I was able to absorb that a little bit better, but overall it’s a good day.”
Wide receiver Geremy Davis, who was invited to the combine with Jones, ran a 4.47 in the 40, which was about the extent of his drill work since he performed well in most events at the combine. Davis might have elevated his position because he was outstanding in route-running and catching passes thrown by quarterback Chandler Whitmer.
“I [had to] prove my straight-line speed and show my route-running ability, and now it’s keep working hard and just wait until that day,” Davis said. “God willing, I hear my name called.”
The NFL draft is April 30-May 2. Those who do not get drafted are hoping for free agent tryouts.
Back to Jones. The coach helping him with individual drills was Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
“He was trying to change my back-pedal and be more relaxed in the upper body, instead of getting down too low, stay up a little more,” Jones said. “I’m a 6-foot-1 corner so use that to my advantage. It’s stuff I have to work on, and if I’m going to be on his team, then I have no problem working that technique.”
The Vikings pick No.11 overall. They aren’t expected to take a corner there, but Zimmer was in town specifically to work Jones through individual drills.
The Eagles, who have the No. 20 pick, talked to Jones quite a bit. They are believed to be interested in safety or corner — both of which Jones has played at UConn — and a receiver.
The Eagles spent time with 6-5, 304-pound lineman B.J. McBryde, who had 26 tackles last year but is quite athletic. The Eagles actually called the Beaver Falls native’s home, spoke with his father Saturday and told them they had interest.
With five Eagles scouts in the house, McBryde was not going to miss the opportunity to impress.
McBryde had 24 reps on the bench, leapt 31 ½ inches in the vertical jump and 10 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump, tying Foxx for the best effort on the day in the event.
“When you work so hard for something it’s unbelievable, and to come out here and do as well as I did, my friends, family, coaches kept telling me, ‘B.J. you’re going to do great,’ but there was always that teeny, tiny voice in your head, ‘But what if … What if this happens.’ I didn’t hear that voice today.”
Whitmer and defensive end/linebacker Frank had the best vertical jump at 33 ½ inches.
“I threw two incompletions all day,” Whitmer said. “My goal was to be perfect, but that was OK. I was able to throw at Georgia Tech’s Pro Day [March 13] as well, so that was good. I just wanted to come back to the home turf and get one more workout and see what happens.”
Frank, who also played fullback before moving to defense, was back to running routes and catching passes, too.
“I’m giving it my all, whatever they tell me to do,” Frank said. “It’s a one-shot thing when you get out here. It’s not like they’re going to say, ‘All right, Ruben, you did bad today. Can we see you do it again tomorrow?’ I don’t care the position.”