UConn cornerback Byron Jones makes leap at NFL Combine
Byron Jones might have made one giant leap up the NFL draft boards Monday. Actually, make it two big leaps.
On the last day of workouts at the NFL’s annual Scouting Combine, the Connecticut cornerback soared 12 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump. That was 15 inches farther than the second-best defensive back and 8 inches longer than the best listed in the NFL Scouting Combine database.
Gil Brandt, a longtime Dallas Cowboys executive who still works with the combine, believes it a record. He couldn’t remember anyone topping 12 feet.
In addition, Jones’ distance was longer than the Olympic record of 11.38 feet, set by Ray Ewry in 1904. The event was discontinued in the Olympics after 1912 and the IAAF, track and field’s governing body, no longer sanctions or certifies broad jump records.
World-class athletes also don’t train for the broad jump. And if they did, the record would probably be much longer.
Nobody could stay with Jones in the vertical jump, either. He went 44.5 inches, going 3 inches higher than the next closest finisher.
Everyone seemed surprised, except Jones.
"My personal (broad jump) record was 11-7. That’s what I was doing at the training facility and I obviously broke that," he said by phone. "It feels good to put a PR (personal record) up."
How much could Jones’ performance help his stock? That will be determined leading to the draft, which begins April 30.
He started combine week barely cracking some of the top 10 lists at his position. But on the last of four workout days in Indianapolis, Jones made a splashy exit — and jump-started a national buzz on social media.
"I feel it may have boosted it up a little bit, but at the end of the day the film is what is most important," Jones said. "You’ve got to have good film, so I’m relying on that."
NFL decision-makers collect a wealth of information before making draft decisions, and on Monday there were still some numbers to fill in for Jones.
The NFL’s official tracker did not list Jones with a time in the 40-yard dash or the number of bench press reps he did at 225 pounds — two stats that usually have much more to do with draft stock than numbers in the vertical or broad jumps.
But, for one day, he was a bigger star than some of his better-known colleagues.
Michigan State’s Trae Waynes (4.31 seconds) and Darby (4.38) turned in the fastest 40 times among cornerbacks. Mississippi State’s Justin Cox was the fastest safety in the group at 4.36. Southern California cornerback Josh Shaw was one of four players clocked at 4.4, and cornerback Marcus Peters ran a 4.53.
Peters was booted off Washington’s roster in November.
Shaw led the whole group with 26 reps on the bench press. Waynes tied for seventh (19), Peters had 17, Cox finished with 15 and Darby came in at 12.
And during a week in which when Jameis Winston impressed in the throwing drills, Marcus Mariota ran a 4.52 in the 40 and Melvin Gordon matched Marshawn Lynch’s time in the 40, it may have been Jones who helped himself the most.
"I feel like I did well," he said. "Of course, I hit my marks in the vertical jump and the broad jump. I’ve got to run a fast 40 and continue to look smooth in the background."