When ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay talks, people tend to stop what they’re doing to listen. Especially in the months leading up to draft day. This is the case even when McShay says something seemingly outlandish, as he did Wednesday.
When speaking about the tremendous combine performance from former Auburn cornerback Jonathan Jones, he threw out bizarre hypotheses.
“The other thing I loved, and it’s strange, when you look at the analytics over the years, there’s a small correlation between success, especially smaller corners, and the bench press,” McShay said on a conference call to discuss his most recent mock draft. “It sounds stupid. I actually double-checked everything I was looking at. Sit back and think about it for a second, it kind of makes sense. If you’re not going to be tall and long you had better have some upper-body power to reroute receivers to go and contest for balls in the air.”
Jones was tied with Temple’s Tavon Young and Minnesota’s Briean Boddy-Calhoun as the shortest defensive back at the combine at 5-foot-9. But Jones not only out-ran every defensive back in Indianapolis with a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, he also finished second in the bench press with 19 reps.
As McShay eluded to, Jones is a small, but very strong corner. Will he see success in the NFL like some of his counterparts McShay mentioned … without calling them out by name?
While Jones’ success at the next level remains to be seen, his 40 time, his strength, the good and tough tackling he put on film – and yes, possibly some of the tales McShay’s analytics foretell will all combine to work in Jones’ favor. Focusing on his combine efforts solely, Jones is a candidate to be a big draft-day riser.
“You can’t get over the height, but I do think as a nickel corner, he’s got a chance to be a pretty good player,” said McShay. “He certainly helped himself, but I’m wondering now if we’re looking at late Day 2 or early Day 3. If you run that kind of time, history kind of tells you you’re not going to get out of the first four rounds of the draft.”
A Day 2 draft slot would net a two-round improvement from where Jones was projected to go prior to the combine by NFLDraftScout.com. Even “early Day 3” would be a jump on an entire round (from the fifth round to the fourth).
Who would have thought – outside of McShay – the combination of small size and a lot of strength would work in a cornerback’s favor? It’s no secret McShay’s a believer.
“I was really impressed with Jones and what he did in terms of his workout,” said the ESPN analyst. “I know he’s only 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but he ran a 4.33 official and he had a 36-inch vertical.”