April 15, 2000
By HAL BOCK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Running back Thomas Jones earned his psychology degree in three years at the University of Virginia and then stuck around to break school records for all-purpose yards (2,195), single-season rushing (1,908), and career rushing (4,108).
So while other top NFL prospects sipped soft drinks at a predraft luncheon, Jones displayed his priority, carrying a football under his arm, just in case some team was watching.
And if they had overlooked him - unlikely - Jones provided a scouting report on himself.
"Quick. Strong. Catches the ball well. Blocks well. Durable. Smart."
Then he paused. "That's what I'd say about myself," he said. "I watch films. I try to be perfect on every play."
The Arizona Cardinals watched too and made Jones the seventh pick of the first round.
Even though he seems a bit undersized at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, Jones was picked ahead of bigger guys like Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, who went to the New York Giants with the 11th pick.
"I feel I'm a good back," Jones said. "There are a lot of good backs in the draft. To be the first one taken wouldn't be a bad thing, either."
He was the second running back to go. The first player chosen was Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown, picked by the Cleveland Browns.
That left Brown's college teammate, linebacker LaVar Arrington and tackle Chris Samuels of Alabama for the Washington Redskins, who had the second and third picks.
Then Cincinnati picked wide receiver Peter Warrick of Florida State and Baltimore picked running back Jamal Lewis of Tennessee, surprising some people who thought Jones would be the first running back to go.
Philadelphia went for Florida State defensive tackle Corey Simon with the sixth pick before Arizona took Jones.
Before the draft, Arrington was asked how he thought the first round would evolve. The linebacker, who is described by some scouts as the next Lawrence Taylor, smiled.
"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "I might know, but I'm not telling."
Warrick, once considered a likely No. 1, slipped because of a scrape with the law in his last season at Florida State. He was arrested after paying $21.40 for $412.38 worth of clothing in a department store, was suspended for two games and placed on probation after a plea bargain.
There also were some lackluster times in the 40-yard dash.
"People are judging me by what I did," Warrick said. "It was something
that happened. What I did was wrong, but I'm a better person than that. Don't
judge me by what I did. I can't please everybody. I can't be what somebody else
wants. I can only be myself."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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