40 time: 4.57
Draft board overall prospect rank: #39
Draft board overall safety rank: #4
Overall rating: 81*
3/2/10: A 4.57 isn’t bad at 221 pounds, but he measured in 10 pounds skinnier than expected and didn’t appear to be any faster. He also struggled somewhat in drills and only put up 9 reps on the bench press. He’s still an early 2nd rounder in my book, though, but barely.
1/23/10: The top strong safety in this draft class, he hits like a linebacker at 6-3 235, but also has experience starting at cornerback for a National Championship team as a freshman so you know his coverage skills are at least decent. He doesn’t have Taylor Mays’ measureables, particularly great timed speed, but he is a better strong safety prospect than Mays and should be drafted first, though I doubt he will be.
12/26/09: Taylor Mays gets all of the hype with the safety position because of his excellent triangle numbers, height, weight, 40 time, and his big flying hits and just the overall fact that he goes to USC. However, Chad Jones is the better safety prospect and after reviewing some more game footage, my next Big Board will reflect that. Jones is actually bigger than Mays, 6-3 232. He has linebacker size and freakish athleticism and hits like a ton of bricks, but he’s also more fundamentally sound than Mays. He actually wraps up his tackles and plays a ton more controlled. His route to the ball carrier is better than Mays’ but still needs some improvement but with his size and explosion, he really is another linebacker up there on run plays and would be an excellent fit for a 3-4 defense. He plays the pass better than Mays as well and actually has 14 starts at cornerback as a freshman on the LSU National Championship team before moving to free safety for the last two years. His ability to play cornerback, plus his skills as a baseball pitcher, show his freakish athleticism. He also played running back in High School. Athleticism runs in his blood as well. His cousin Rahim Alem also plays on the LSU football team and is considered a late round prospect as a defensive end or rush linebacker. He doesn’t have Mays’ timed speed or upside, but he moves well for his size with a projected low 4.5 40. He can do everything you’d expect out of a strong safety in the NFL. He can patrol a zone, he can make a play on the ball, muscle around a receiver, or man up a tight end, and he can also rush the passer on blitzes something I’ve seen him do very effectively. His hands need a bit of improvement, but that’s not extremely important for his position and he did improve his interception total to 3 this year and is showing off some of his running back skills with 23.7 yards per interception return. His backpedal is a bit sluggish, which is probably part of the reason he’s no longer a cornerback. He’s well coached as part of a strong conservative defense at LSU that has a history of making good NFL defenders, especially safeties. He has about 2 and a half years of starting experience, 1 and a half at safety, and a year at cornerback so the experience is there. The production over those years has been pretty good as well. I think because of his size he’s best suited to be a strong safety in the NFL, but he can also play some free safety with good success and that actually is his primary position in college. His stance on whether or not to declare for the 2010 draft at this point is unknown, but should he declare, once he performs at the combine and in individual workouts and his pro day, he should shoot up into the first round range where he belongs. He has Pro Bowl caliber upside at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Adrian Wilson