Former Bellevue High star Myles Jack says NFL teams will regret it if they don't draft him in April due to concerns about his knee.
INDIANAPOLIS — The risk, Myles Jack says, is there only for NFL teams that don’t draft him, not for the one that does.
“I would say that would be a mistake if they did that,’’ Jack said Friday when he met the media at the NFL combine. “ … It would be a big mistake it they did that and they slept on me.’’
A former Bellevue High star, Jack tore a meniscus in his right knee during a UCLA practice in October, then declared for the NFL draft. Some questioned the move because he had played in just three games in 2015.
But Jack said he thinks he took a big step in calming any possible fears about his knee during myriad tests Friday.
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Jack and the rest of the linebackers spent the morning going through physical exams, which Jack said lasted roughly seven hours for him.
“They were pulling and prodding and twisting,’’ Jack said, then added with a wry laugh, “They did their job today.
“ … My agent told me they were going to be really aggressive with it and just trying to kind of make it hurt to see if it was hurt. But it was fine.”
Jack, though, will limit in his participation at the combine. He is expected to do only interviews, medical testing and the bench press.
He plans to run the 40-yard dash and go through other drills at UCLA’s pro day.
“I plan on doing my pro day, so if they feel like there’s a red flag or anything, that’s my job to go out there and get rid of it,” he said.
Assuming all goes well at his pro day, Jack is expected to be a top-10 pick. One popular destination for Jack in mock drafts has been to the 49ers at No. 7 overall.
Once he has a team, the next questions will be about which position he plays. Listed as a linebacker at UCLA, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Jack lined up all over the field.
“Myles is a freak of an athlete,’’ defensive tackle and former UCLA teammate Kenny Clark said Friday. “He could shut down a whole side of the field. Whoever he’s lined up on, he’s as athletic as that guy.’’
Clark noted that Jack sometimes would be assigned to cover slot receivers and added that, “Quarterbacks didn’t want to attack him. He didn’t have many interceptions because they didn’t want to throw toward him.’’
Jack also played regularly at running back, pulling off the rare feat of being named both the Pac-12’s Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2013.
The days of being a two-way player, though, probably are done, he said.
But he is open to just about everything else.
“I see myself as a football player,’’ he said. “I want the teams to decide for themselves. I feel like I can play any position. Me personally, I like being off the ball as a Mike (middle linebacker), Will (weak-side linebacker), Sam (strong-side linebacker).’’
Then he mentioned another option that referenced his high-school roots.
“I think I could play strong safety as kind of a Kam Chancellor-type of role,’’ he said. “I feel like I could get the job done there.’’
The mention of Chancellor raised the question of whether the two have met.
“It’s funny,’’ Jack said. “He probably doesn’t remember, but I met him at a Jack in the Box (in Bellevue) like 10 o’clock on a Friday. Took a picture with him. But he probably doesn’t remember.”
Jack was impossible to overlook Friday, though. He did his interview on a podium overlooking a large gathering of reporters. He discussed his knee and his decision to withdraw from school with a year of eligibility remaining to turn pro. He spent the fall and winter preparing for the draft, a turn of events that drew some initial skepticism from coach Jim Mora, who called it “very risky.”
Jack, though, said Friday that he has no hard feelings toward Mora.
“When we had this discussion, it was kind of bad timing, because (UCLA) had just lost to Arizona State,’’ said Jack, who has been training in Phoenix. “We basically sat down and had a discussion face to face. What he said out loud was, he played both sides of the (issue). He told me the good and the bad. So what he said in the media, it wasn’t new to me.’’
And now, with the draft April 28-30, most agree with Jack that the biggest risk might be taken by teams that bypass him.
“The medical needs to check out,’’ NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said this week. “All those things need to check out prior to the end of April. But I think he’s going to be a guy that steps into the lineup Day 1 once medically clear, and I think he’s going to be a high-level player.
” … Even though his season was cut short by injury this year, the tape I watched, I saw a different guy this year than in past years, and by that I mean he was more physical, I think more confident in his physicality, able to come down and take on guards, tackles, fullbacks. So I saw a guy that was more of a finesse player early in his career turn into a true linebacker this year, and again, his season was cut short, but I don’t think he’s going to have much of a problem transitioning.He looks like a top-10 pick at this point.”
Combine at a glance
What happened: On-field workouts began with the offensive linemen, specialists and running backs, and defensive linemen and linebackers met the media.
The big story: On the field, it might have been the performances of Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama’s Derrick Henry, considered the top running backs. Elliott ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, fifth among all running backs, and the 6-3, 247-pound Henry had good performances in the jumping events, reconfirming the uniqueness of his blend of size and athleticism.
Off the field, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss) and Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky) held news conferences in which they said they had moved on from past misdeeds. Spence, who was booted from Ohio State for failed drug tests, said he no longer has substance-abuse issues. Nkemdiche fielded a flurry of questions about an incident in December when he fell 15 feet out of a hotel window and was arrested for possession of marijuana found in his room. Nkemdiche raised some eyebrows by saying teammate Laremy Tunsil, an offensive tackle and a possible top-three overall pick, was in the room with him. He also said he was drinking but did not smoke marijuana that night.
What’s next: On Saturday quarterbacks, led by California’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, will work out, and defensive backs will meet the media.