Shepherd’s Jones participates in NFL Combine
Shepherd defensive end/rush linebacker Howard Jones, a four-year player with the Rams who has the school’s career record for sacks with 35, recently participated in the National Football League Combine in Indianapolis. Jones was one of only 14 players from the NCAA Division 2 ranks invited to the workout/tryout.
Jones became the first Shepherd player ever invitited to the NFL Combine.
Since 2008, only 37 Division 2 players have been selected in the NFL draft.
Measured at 6-foot-2 and weighed by the Combine’s organizers at 235 pounds, Jones had received an invitation to the pre-draft workouts after being visited on campus by NFL scouts last March and then playing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on January 17, 2014.
In the past few months, Jones has been training in Florida in preparation for the Combine.
At the Combine, Jones had a routine battery of measurements taken before being timed in the 40-yard dash and being given routine tests in the broad jump, vertical jump, three-cone drill and bench press repetitions.
Competing against other defensive linemen and linebackers, Jones was a “top performer” with his time of 4.6 in the 40-yard sprint. He received other “top performer” marks for his 40.5-inch vertical leap, 124-inch broad jump and 7.16-second time in the three-cone drill. Jones had 21 “reps” in the bench press part of the process.
On Feb. 21, Jones went through a medical pre-exam and was given an orientation by league representatives before going through a series of interviews with teams. The next day, he was measured, went through a medical exam and participated in media interviews.
On Feb. 23, the Woodbridge, Va. native was given a series of psychological tests, was subjected to more team interviews and did weight work with bench press repetitions.
Then on Monday of this week, he went through the series of on-field workouts where he was grouped with other defensive linemen/linebackers.
When the testing at the Combine was completed and scouting reports compiled by NFL personnel were evaluated, the league released a critique of Jones and his professional prospects. Under a general category called the “bottom line”, the league said of Jones: “Lean, explosive, highly athletic rush linebacker prospect who overwhelmed inferior tackles at Division 2 level and has clear developmental value and upgrade potential. Best deployed with pinned ears and see-ball, get-ball instructions.
“Jones is raw, but has enticing speed and crude pass-rush ability for a patient, positional coach to mold.”
In 2013, there were 335 players invited to the Combine and 224 of them were selected in the draft.
One NFL scouting report mentioned that Jones had been on special teams at times while at Shepherd. Another team mentioned that he might be projected as an outside linebacker.
Shepherd could hold another “pro day” on campus in March for more NFL scouts. Jones reportedly ran a hand-timed 4.38 sprint during the March 2013 workout for NFL scouts. He did it four different times, running in different directions so that the wind could be discounted as a factor for his fast times.
A website called “NFLDraft.com” projects Jones as a possible sixth round selection the May draft.
Shepherd had tight end Dominique Jones playing for Kansas City in the 2013 season, but he was an undrafted free agent when joining the league with the Indianapolis Colts.
Finding Division 2 players on NFL rosters is not a common thing, but Shepherd has seen running back Wayne Wilson and defensive back/returner James Rooths make contributions in the league.
Howard Jones opened enough eyes to receive one of the rare invitations granted to NCAA Division 2 players.
He could become another Shepherd player putting the Rams on the National Football League map.