Now that he has finally conducted a pre-draft workout for NFL talent evaluators, Georgia pass rusher Jarvis Jones presents one of the more intriguing case studies when it comes to deciding how NFL teams evaluate players. It's particularly interesting when viewed through the lens of the Buffalo Bills, who could really use a dynamic edge rusher for Mike Pettine's hybrid defense.
We know two things about GM Buddy Nix and the front office he's assembled: they love experienced, productive players from power conferences, and they love guys that are athletic prototypes. Jones is decidedly the former, and clearly not the latter.
At his pro day, Jones ran an official 4.92-second 40-yard dash, then followed that up with a 9'3" broad jump, a 30.5-inch high jump and left some scouts using the word "terrible" to describe his workout. Even before his pro day flop, Jones was clearly not as explosive athletically as some of the other top pass rushers in this year's draft class, and his 6'2", 245-pound frame left him more schematically limited than some of the other guys, as well.
Then again, Jones was twice an All-American player in the SEC for good reason: he tore that conference apart in 2011 and 2012, accumulating 155 tackles, 44 tackles for loss, 28 sacks, nine forced fumbles and an interception in 26 games with the Bulldogs. That level of production is impossible to ignore and had him in the conversation to be a Top 5 pick - even while worries about spinal stenosis (which have really died down of late) hindered his draft stock early. Make no mistake about it: Jones was a stud in college, and a high-valued prospect when he entered the draft.
Reaction to Jones' pro day has been mixed. On NFL Network last night, Mike Mayock called the 40 time a "red flag" and wondered aloud if Jones would slip out of the Top 10. Charley Casserly noted that a slow 40 time isn't necessarily a bad thing, but that it might be for a player that's only 245 pounds. Former league scout Daniel Jeremiah maintained that Jones was still one of the ten best players in the draft class.
Jones is now an exercise in how off-season workouts are weighted against what the player has on tape. For the Bills, it's interesting because Nix has emphasized both of these things: good tape and production, and high-end athleticism.
Our discussion topic, then, is this: knowing what we know about the way the Bills evaluate players, do you think Jones' poor pro day workout hurt him at all in the eyes of Nix, and cause him to slide down the team's board? Which will Nix favor more: the difficult-to-ignore production in the SEC, or the size and athletic limitations on display at Jones' pro day?