Jones, an outside linebacker, is regarded as a probable first-round pick in the NFL draft. He ran the 40 in an unimpressive 4.92 seconds in less than ideal conditions. Temperatures were in the mid-30s when players were timed on Georgia’s artificial turf practice field.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree, another possible first-round pick, was clocked at 4.63 seconds.
Jones said he realized the pro day could play a big role in next month’s draft.
“This is one of the biggest interviews right now that I’m going to have in my life,” Jones said. “I believe all 32 teams are here. What is going to be better than that?”
The strong turnout from the NFL included head coaches Mike Smith of Atlanta, Rex Ryan of the Jets and Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh. Among the assistants attending were defensive coordinators Jack Del Rio of Denver and Rob Ryan of New Orleans and Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Jones said he didn’t even want to know his time in the 40. Each player had two attempts. On Jones’ first run, he appeared to pull up and grimace near the end, but he said he was not injured.
“I can’t even tell you what happened,” Jones said. “I think I missed a step. I don’t know if I overstepped or understepped, but it felt weird.”
Jones completed 20 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, only one below defensive tackle Kwame Geathers but three below the team-best totals of 23 by running back Richard Samuel and cornerback Sanders Commings. He had mid-level results of 30.5 inches in the vertical jump and 9 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump.
Jones was measured at 6-2 and 248 pounds.
He says he hopes to be judged in the draft by his record as one of the nation’s top pass-rushers. He had 28 sacks in two seasons at Georgia, including 14½ in 2012.
“I’m a football player,” Jones said. “It’s about football, right? I’m a football player. That’s what I do. At the end of the day, you get those drills — I’m not saying they ain’t worth nothing — but you get those drills, running the 40 and all that stuff. You could get someone off the street who can run a 4.3, but they can’t play football. That’s easy.”
Smith said the players’ 40-yard times in the NFL combine and the pro day are only one part of their evaluations by NFL teams.
“I think you’ve got to not just evaluate the sprints and stuff,” Smith said. “You want to watch their individual workouts that they do in terms of position skills. Those are the things that they run at the combine and you’ve got the measures on them. This was another opportunity to watch them doing some different drills that they didn’t do at the combine.”
Ogletree, suspended for the first four games last season, had a DUI arrest one week before last month’s NFL combine.
Asked what message he wants to give to the NFL, Ogletree said “That I’m a hard worker. I’m a good person. I made a mistake but I’m learning from it. I’m willing to work every day.”
Despite missing the four games, Ogletree led Georgia with 111 tackles.
Georgia expects to set a school record with at least nine players selected in next month’s NFL draft, and most are defensive players. There were 18 players, including 12 on defense, in Thursday’s drills.
Smith said Georgia, coming off a 12-2 season under coach Mark Richt, has an unusually deep pool of draft prospects. Smith said he’s not accustomed to seeing so many defensive prospects at any school.
“It’s not the norm, that’s for sure,” Smith said. “Coach Richt and his staff have done a great job putting together some really good players and this year is probably the best that I’ve seen in the five years that I’ve been coming over.”
Georgia had a school-record eight players drafted in 2002.
“I’m hoping it gets at least into the double digits,” Richt said of this year’s draft.
“You could tell there’s going to be a bunch of Bulldogs out of this class playing in the league, and we’re excited for them. ... A day like (Thursday) was so big for the players, but it was big for Georgia, also.”
Other defensive players who worked out for scouts were Commings, Geathers, safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams, cornerback Branden Smith, defensive linemen Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington, and linebackers Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard.
Wide receiver Tavarres King and Samuel were Georgia’s most prominent offensive players in the draft.
Richt’s son, quarterback Jon Richt, also participated in the testing. Jon Richt began his career at Clemson before transferring to Mars Hill College.
Mark Richt said his son participated because Georgia had no senior quarterback to throw passes to King and Samuel.
“It was nice for him to have an opportunity to throw,” Richt said.
Smith ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds, easily the best time of the day. His broad jump of 10-8 also was the day’s best.