Will Cowboys Play It Safe?

Last week's release of free safety Ken Hamlin, coupled with the fact that Gerald Sensabaugh and/or Pat Watkins could leave via free agency, suddenly increases the urgency for the Dallas Cowboys to find at least one more safety.

One prospect whose stock is rising, and was invited to Valley Ranch for a pre-draft workout with the Cowboys, is LSU's Chad Jones.

Jones has the rare distinction of being able to show off a championship ring in two sports; LSU won it all in football in 2007, and two years later, he was a relief pitcher and outfielder for the College World Series champion Tigers.

Jones, who measured in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-2 and 221 pounds (about 11 pounds below his playing weight last season), said he no longer entertains the idea of playing baseball (he was drafted after his senior year of high school by the Houston Astros).

"As of right now I believe I've wrapped my baseball career up," he said. "I've had a good run at LSU. I loved it. I wouldn't have done it any different. But it's now time for me to pursue my real love, which is football.

"There are definitely times you wonder that (about pursuing a baseball career), but I think I'm making the best decision. I talked to my parents and this is the way I feel, that I become a full football player."

But he also said that his experience on the diamond has helped his growth as a football player, particularly as it pertains to his ability to handle pressure situations.

"I kind of use it translate into both," he said. "Some of the pressure situations I've been in I think I handled pretty good. Baseball is a different type of feeling than football. With baseball, everybody's eyes are on you. Me being a pitcher, every pitch counts. In football, everybody scrambles around with so many people on the field. They are two different types of pressure and I think I handled both of them pretty good."

In addition to being a dual-sport athlete at LSU, Jones said having his older brother, Rahim Alem, on the Tigers' football team was a benefit most players do not get to enjoy.

"He was (at the NFL Combine) a couple of days before me so I was definitely calling him, asking him all the tips, trying to find out what everybody was trying to ask," Jones said. "Him being around, I think it helped me tremendously. Just having an older brother to lead you in the right direction was great.

"We're real close. We're 22 months apart. We played on the same team ever since I can remember. We go out together. We do everything together. We hang out. We go out to eat."

With his combination of size, speed, overall athleticism and crushing hitting ability, Jones has been compared to a number of NFL safeties, including Brian Dawkins of the Denver Broncos, Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts. Jones eschews such comparisons, preferring instead to forge his own identity at the next level.

"When it comes to me measuring myself against different players, I don't tend to do that," he said. "I believe I'm an elite player, just as they are. I have my own personality. If I need to give an example, I'm a mixture of everything. I can cover the deep ball, come down and roll in the box, I can do the rover, I can come down and cover some.

"I think I'm the total package."

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