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Poked, prodded, graded: Inside an NFL pro day

  • Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, right, avoids a tackle by Northern Colorado's Matt King during an NCAA college football game on Saturday Oct. 16, 2010, at Nottingham Field in Greeley, Colo. UNC fell to the Eagles 35-28. (AP Photo/The Daily Tribune, Eric Bellamy)

PITTSBURG — Taiwan Jones didn't wear a suit and tie to the most important job interview of his life Thursday morning.

In fact, for several moments, he was bare-chested.

It all began about 10 a.m. in a cramped exercise room at Los Medanos Junior College. NFL scouts and a few assistant coaches ringed the room and Jones, a speedy running back from Eastern Washington University, stood near the center. Beside Jones was Marv Sunderland, a gray-haired scout from the Tennessee Titans who held a tape measure.

As Sunderland called out numbers, the scouts scribbled, filling in the details of Jones' resume.

Jones offered his hand. "Eight-and-a-half hand," Sunderland announced. Scribble.

Jones splayed out his arms. "Twenty-nine and five-eighths on the right ... his elbow doesn't straighten all the way," Sunderland said. Scribble.

There was more. Jones' wingspan (71 1/8 inches). His height (6 feet, 7/8 inch).

And, finally, his weight. For this, Jones, prior to stepping on a scale, took off his shirt to reveal 196 pounds of washboard abs and barrel chest.

The evaluators stared, presumably approvingly, and then scribbled.

Welcome to an NFL pro day, which, in effect, provides job interviews for college prospects in the weeks leading up to the three-day NFL draft, which begins April 28. From Columbus to Corvallis, NFL evaluators flock to college towns to poke, prod and grade players they might consider employing in the not-too-distant future.

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