If there was ever such a thing as a "winner" of the NFL Combine, it would be UConn's Byron Jones.
The senior captain from New Britain exploded onto the scene last Monday when he jumped a 12-3 broad jump, a world record, and a 44.5-inch vertical jump, which was half an inch short of the world record. If that isn't crazy enough, he did this all while coming off shoulder surgery that ended his season early, and prevented him from doing the bench press and 40-yard dash.
NESN Patriots beat writer Doug Kyed had high praise for his performance:
After out jumping everyone, Byron Jones ran 6.78 3-cone & 3.94 short shuttle. If he runs a 4.4, one of the best athletes in combine history.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) February 23, 2015
Many analysts across the board are raving not just about his athletic ability, but his play as well.
"You see a guy that can really, really run, he's physical, against Michigan...he has a high point interception, and you see him go up and get the football" said Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network.
Former coach Steve Mariucci said, "These are off the chart numbers, he's going to definitely be a special teams player, running, hitting...but then you plug him in as a backup corner right away...he's going to find a spot".
"I had a high grade on him before, that's why I still like him," said draft guru Mel Kiper Jr, according to Desmond Conner. "You can't like a guy after a workout if you didn't like him before. Fluid hips, real physical. He's a press corner...I think he's an early- to mid-second-round pick"
As a four-year starter at UConn, Jones played safety his first two seasons, before switching to cornerback for his junior and senior seasons. He finished his career with 222 total tackles and eight interceptions, including an incredible 70-yard pick-six with less than 10 seconds left in the first half against USF last season.
Thanks to his Combine performance, and his versatility, Jones has watched his stock skyrocket in the past week, being projected as high as No. 20 to Philadelphia on NFL.com. Although this may be a bit of a stretch, many mock drafts have him going in the second round.
In Todd McShay's latest mock for ESPN.com, Jones is not a first-round pick, but remains high on the draft expert's board entering the second round.
Here's where some other mock drafts have Jones going:
CBS Sports' Rob Rang: #32 to the New England Patriots.
SB Nation: #56 to the Pittsburg Steelers.
WalterFootball.com: #39 to the Chicago Bears.
It's called the silly season for a reason, and in the upcoming weeks, Jones can hopefully improve his draft stock, as he looks to be only the second first-round pick in UConn history.