LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Jarvis Jones threw a baseball Sunday without suffering any back or neck pain. That might not qualify as a complete physical, but given the relative hysteria following reports that the former Georgia linebacker was being red-lined by NFL teams before the draft, it was a comforting sight.
Jones also couldn’t be more emphatic than he was Sunday when he basically labeled rumors about his health as bunk.
“That ain’t true,” he said of the reports, before throwing out the first pitch of the Braves’ spring training game against Detroit at Disney. “People are still talking to me. Nobody has taken me off the board. The doctor said I was fine and cleared me and the [scouting] combine went fine for me. I was cleared medically. Teams know my situation. Everything went great. I did everything they asked me to do. I’ll have my pro day [at Georgia on March 21], and then I’m going to meet with a whole lot of teams.”
Some background: Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis following an injury when he played at USC in 2009. The school ultimately decided against letting the Columbus, Ga., native continue playing football, which prompted him to transfer to Georgia.
Jones never had an issue with his neck or spine at Georgia. But less than two weeks ago, ProFootballTalk.com reported that “Jones’ neck had prompted multiple teams to shy away from considering him, especially in round one,” attributing the information to an unnamed league source. Other media outlets followed with similar unattributed reports.
Trainer Tom Shaw, who is working with Jones before the draft, as well as former Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo and other prospects at Disney’s sports complex, said, “No one has taken him off the board. That’s just news reporters. Jarvis got real upset about it because he doesn’t even know why that was going on.”
Shaw said Jones has been examined by three specialists and all have cleared him. “They took three different MRIs since he’s been here and there’s no concern,” he said.
Jones’ theory on he rumors is that they’re part of a typical pre-draft disinformation campaign.
“People were telling me teams do that because they want me to drop to them because they don’t have high picks,” he said. “I can’t control none of that. I know what teams were telling and I know what doctors told me. So I just focus on what I can control, which is trying to be the best football player in America.”
Some, including ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, have labeled Jones as potentially the best player in the draft. But mock drafts are all over the board.
Jones said he spoke to “20 to 22” teams at the recent combine (the Falcons were not among them). The subject of his health often came up, but Jones said, “They all knew my situation. They just wanted me to explain to them what happened [at USC]. The doctors got all of my [test results]. I believe I’m fine. They said I was fine. So I trust them and I trust the doctors.”