NFL DRAFT 2010: STRONG SAFETIES

Chad Jones, who won national championships in both football and baseball at Louisiana State, could be the first strong safety selected in the 2010 NFL Draft.

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Chad Jones of Louisiana State Could Be First Strong Safety Selected in 2010 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS – Chad Jones certainly had options.

And when it comes to versatility and success, it's safe to say the strong safety from Louisiana State University had those, too.

But Jones said the time for options and versatility is in the past.

Jones, who won national championships at LSU in both football and baseball, spent the last few seasons as one of the nation's top two-sathletes, but said recently his focus now is on one sport with one clear objective:

Making it in the NFL. And doing so however he can.

"Everybody's expectations are high when they first go into the NFL," Jones said during the NFL Scouting Combine, which was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis in late February.

"I plan to compete, just like everybody else competes, and hopefully find a job on the defense, and do some special teams. I feel pretty good (with) my special teams capabilities."

Jones, who pitched and played outfield for the Tigers, was selected in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Houston Astros after his senior season of high school. He not only found time to play two sports and win two national titles in college, he did so before foregoing his senior season of eligibility.

Entering the draft, he widely is considered the top strong safety available.

Jones, a two-year starter, is generally expected to be selected sometime in the second round of the April 22-24 2010 NFL Draft, but at a position that historically isn't a premium draft position there are those who project he could slip into the third round.

"My biggest adjustment to the NFL is every skill level – adjusting to the speed," he said. "It's the fastest of the fastest, the biggest of the biggest out there. You've just got to adjust your speed."

Jones (6-feet-2, 221), who developed into a starter as a sophomore, started 19 games in his final two seasons, registering 124 tackles and four interceptions. Three of the interceptions came this past season.

He also returned punts at times.

"I'm that guy that fires up the team, make the big plays, make the big turnovers," Jones said during the combine. "I'm that guy that's going to be in the middle of the field making the calls, making the checks and getting everybody lined up."

Jones, while projected as a strong safety, played mostly free safety in college, and while most college safeties are compared to players such as Bob Sanders of the Colts and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he said he doesn't make such comparisons.

"When it comes to me measuring myself against different players, I don't tend to do that," Jones said. "I believe I'm an elite player just as they are. I have my own personality. If I need to give an example, I'm a mixture of everything.

"I can cover the deep ball, come down and roll in the box, I can do the rover, I can come down and cover some. I think I'm the total package."

Jones, who played a key role as a relief pitcher during baseball seasons, said the experience playing that sport not only translated to football, it impressed NFL scouts.

"Some of the pressure situations I've been in I think I handled pretty good," Jones said. "Baseball is a different type of feeling than football. With baseball, everybody's eyes are on you. Me being a pitcher, every pitch counts. In football, everybody scrambles around with so many people on the field. They are two different types of pressure and I think I handled both of them pretty good.

"As of right now I believe I've wrapped my baseball career up. I've had a good run at LSU. I loved it. I wouldn't have done it any different. But it's now time for me to pursue my real love, which is football."

And while there were thoughts of professional baseball, Jones said he is certain of his football future.

"There are definitely times you wonder that, but I think I'm making the best decision," he said. "I talked to my parents and this is the way I feel, that I become a full football player."

NFL scouts "have definitely been impressed," he said. "They say I did a great job. It just shows you the type of athlete I am. I can do all type of things."

Jones' draft stock has been hurt somewhat in the eyes of some analysts during the pre-draft process. He bench-pressed 225 pounds nine times at the combine and 11 at the Pro Day, and while that is considered a low number by NFL standards, Jones after LSU's Pro Day told reporters he was confident about his status.

"The big question was how ready I am to play in the NFL with only one full year at safety," Jones told the LSU Reveille at his Pro Day. "I said I had experience playing in different positions. It shows me being committed ... to focus on football and reach my highest limit in football.

"I don't see myself as a third-round guy. I put on a good show for the scouts today. They told me I did better."

BREAKING DOWN THE 2010 NFL DRAFT'S TOP STRONG SAFETIES
While free safety has become a premium position in the NFL Draft in recent seasons, strong safety remains a spot at which early-round selections are rare according to many draft analysts. Chad Jones of Louisiana State is the top strong safety available according to many analysts, and he's projected to go sometime in the second round. Reshad Jones of Georgia is projected as a third-round selection, with about 10-to-15 players at the position generally projected to be selected some time in the seven rounds.

SAFETIES ON THE COLTS' ROSTER
Bob Sanders, seventh season, Iowa; Antoine Bethea, fifth season, Howard; Melvin Bullitt, fourth season, Texas A&M; Jamie Silva, third season, Boston College.

THE LAST FIVE
The last safeties drafted by the Colts . . .

2007: Brannon Condren, fourth round, Troy.

2006: Antoine Bethea, sixth round, Howard.

2005: Matt Giordano, fourth round, California.

2004: Bob Sanders, second round, Iowa.

2003: Cato June, sixth round, Michigan.

2003: Mike Doss, second round, Ohio State.

THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 10 strong safeties expected to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft . . .

Larry Asante, Nebraska, 6-0, 212

Barry Church, Toledo, 6-2, 222

Harry Coleman, LSU, 6-2, 211

Kurt Coleman, Ohio State, 5-10, 192

Chad Jones*, LSU, 6-2, 221

Reshad Jones*, Georgia, 6-1, 214

Myron Rolle, Florida State, 6-2, 215

Darian Stewart, South Carolina, 5-11, 213

Darrell Stuckey, Kansas, 6-0, 205

T.J. Ward, Oregon, 5-11, 211

Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.

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