INDIANAPOLIS – Being in the last college football game of the season, Alabama has several players who appeared to be NFL-ready and draft-worthy, particularly on the offensive line.
While guard Chance Warmack garners a lot of attention, center Barrett Jones is also an intriguing player, despite a foot injury that has raised some questions about his draft stock.
Jones, who measured out at 6-6, 306, played both guard and tackle during his stellar career. He talked to reporters at the combine about his health, his timetable for return and playing for a national championship squad.
What it was like to end his career with two straight national champs:
"I've been very blessed to play on some awesome teams, had a really great career. Obviously, that means nothing here. I'm just trying to go to the next chapter."
So what is the latest on your foot injury?
"I'm still not back for a few months. I had a Lis Franc injury where I tore some ligaments in my foot."
Are you losing ground because of the injury?
"Obviously, that's the first thing that comes to your mind. You've got to realize you can't control that. I can't control that I was hurt. I just have to focus on the things I can control. That's interview well and doing all the little things right. I hope I have a lot of game film, maybe not at center, but at different positions. I feel like I'm intelligent. I know how to study the game well, make very few mental errors. That's what separates me apart."
What was the toughest position switch?
"They were all tough. But I'd say probably left tackle. That's just a tough position. I played that in 2011.
Especially in the SEC, you're going against elite pass-rushers. It's a tough position to pick up in a few months, but I did all right."
What is the value of playing multiple positions?
"When you play a lot of positions, it allows you to learn the offense from diff perspectives. You stop memorizing the offense and start understanding it. That's the biggest reason playing center mentally wasn't that big a challenge. I understood the offense and what we were trying to accomplish."
Where does you think the pros see you?
"I've heard different things. Most of them have probably been center. I'll play wherever."
Where do you feel the most comfortable?
"I felt most comfortable where I played least. If you asked me last year I would have been most comfortable at left tackle. Right now, I'm [embedded_ad] definitely most comfortable at center. I really like center because I enjoy the mental part of it. It's the most mentally challenging offensive line position. Just to be honest, I'm kind of a control freak. I like that aspect, to be in control. And kind of point out to other people their assignments."
Why are some of the Alabama players a little beat up, even now going into the Combine?
"People don't realize it's tougher for us to come here and compete in the combine. Because we play so late. We're still not maybe as healthy as everybody else. When you play in the SEC, you get beat up, especially when you have a lot of bowl practices and you're playing a game that's not till Jan. 7. It's tough to get back to full speed for this."
What was it like playing on a line with two first-round players?
"You're writing me off as a first-rounder? Thanks (laughing). It was fun this year. Obviously, playing beside Chance (Warmack), that's a huge advantage. He really made me look good. A lot of my highlight film, a lot of it has to be on combo blocks with Chance. That was fun playing with those guys. It's fun to be part of an elite unit, which I thought we were. I played on a lot of good offensive lines, but not any of them even close to as good as this past year."
What highlight or award meant the most?
"The thing I'm most proud of is being named team captain. No offense to you guys, the awards that come from your teammates, that means the most. That means they voted on it, you earned their respect. I'm not saying I'm not grateful for all the awards I received. I'm just saying it's special to get awards from your teammates."