One of the underrated prospects at inside linebacker this year is Jamar Chaney of Mississippi State. Not only was Jamar the defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl, but he recorded the fastest time of all the linebackers at the Combine at 4.54, but even he thinks he can run in the 4.4s. Chaney’s athleticism flashes on film and any linebacker that can play at a high level in the SEC deserves recognition. I had the chance to talk with Jamar about where NFL teams see him fitting in at the next level and what it is that motivates him when he’s on the field. Be sure to follow Jamar on Twitter @Jamar22Chaney.
Spencer: I haven’t had a chance to talk to you since the middle of the Senior Bowl. How do you feel about your performance down in Mobile?
Chaney: Just to get to play with NFL coaches and some of the best players in the nation, it was a really good experience. I feel like I played well. I think I did everything the scouts and coaches were looking for.
Spencer: After the Senior Bowl, you had a short break and then had to head out to Indianapolis for the Combine. You performed pretty well in Indy, running a 4.54 40 and had 26 reps on the bench. Were you pleased with your performance there?
Chaney: I was pleased. One of my goals was to be the fastest linebacker there and I think I was the fastest linebacker there. (Jamar was the fastest of all the LBs at the Combine with Florida State’s Dekoda Watson coming closest at 4.56). I was still a little upset with my time. I’m usually somewhere in the high 4.4s where I’ve been training. But pretty much everything I did I was a top performer, so everything was good. To be a top performer there and be the defensive MVP at the Senior Bowl, I feel like it worked out for the best.
Spencer: Who are some of the teams you had a chance to do a formal interview with at the Combine?
Chaney: I pretty much interviewed with every team, or talked to every defensive coordinator or linebacker coach. But to name a few, there was the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Arizona, Dallas, Philly, just to name a few.
Spencer: You played both the Mike backer and Will backer spots and Mississippi State. Are teams looking at you more as a Mike or Will backer, or are 3-4 teams interested in you playing the inside there?
Chaney: Most of them have talked to me about playing either the Mike or the Will in a 4-3 defense. I feel confident in both of them, so it really doesn’t matter to me. But basically, most of the interviews, they just asked for personal information; where you grew up, where you’ve come from. Then they switch over to the football aspects. They ask about what defenses you played in in college and they want you to draw it up. They want you to draw formations and ask what your adjustments are and what are you gonna do with this and stuff like that. They just want to test your football knowledge, especially being a Will linebacker. They want to see your overall knowledge of the defenses you ran in college.
Spencer: Who were some of the 3-4 teams that talked to you?
Chaney: Dallas, Arizona, Miami, Patriots.
Spencer: Folks are always talking about the strange questions teams ask during the interview process. What was the oddest question you were asked in an interview?
Chaney: I was asked if I’ve ever cheated on my girlfriend.
Spencer: Is your girlfriend going with you to whatever city you move to after the draft?
Chaney: More than likely she’s coming with me.
Spencer: Talk about some of your experience on special teams and how that’ll be able to help you in the NFL.
Chaney: I played a lot of special teams at Miss. State. I pretty much played on kickoff and punt team every year. I pretty much played every position on kickoff and every position on punt team. And at the Senior Bowl, pretty much every special team I played on and I think I did a good job with it. The special teams coach from the Miami Dolphins told me I did a pretty good job. I’m very experienced on special teams and I’ll run down there on kickoffs or whatever teams want me to do.
Spencer: One of the things I’ve noticed this year are a lot of guys that are healthy, but turning down opportunities to compete at the Combine and other events. As someone who has competed at every opportunity, what are you thoughts on guys that chose not to compete?
Chaney: I think you should compete. It’s up to every individual, but I think you should compete. It’s something you’ve been doing all your life. You’ve been running and jumping and playing football your whole life. Like at the Senior Bowl, it’s just going out there and playing football. So why not go out there and do what you do. So this wasn’t new to me. I just wanted to get out there and showcase my talents.
Spencer: You’ve had some previous injuries to your leg, are there any lingering concerns?
Chaney: I had some issues with my ankle before but it’s no problem now. The doctors have all said I’m good and when they looked at it at the Combine, they didn’t ask for an MRI. So that means it was pretty good.
Spencer: I see you’re a fitness management major. How close to graduating are you or have you already graduated?
Chaney: Yeah, I graduated back in December. It feels good to have that out of the way so I can focus on football.
Spencer: I’ve read that you had scholarship offers to Georgia, Tennessee, NC State, Maryland, South Carolina, Iowa and WVU. What made you decide to go to Mississippi State.
Chaney: I was actually committed to Georgia, but something happened with my test scores. They were pretty much late. Real late. It was probably like March or April and I found out that I wasn’t going to be able to enroll in Georgia that year. I really wanted to play in the SEC so I came to Mississippi State.
Spencer: Did you have a favorite NFL team growing up or a player that you looked up to?
Chaney: My favorite team in the NFL growing up was probably Tampa Bay. Especially when they had Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch. I like the way they played defense. Right now, I’d have to say my favorite team would probably be the Baltimore Ravens. My favorite player growing up has always been Ray Lewis. I just like the way he gets out there and plays and is emotional. It shows because he plays at a high level and he’s up there in age. He’s a very special player.
Spencer: Have you had a chance to interview with the Ravens?
Chaney: I did at the Senior Bowl. I like the kind of defense they run. The way it looks on TV is the kind of defense that you’d love to run. Players are all over the place. You’ve got D tackles playing linebacker and linebackers playing defensive end.
Spencer: Who were your biggest supporters growing up?
Chaney: My biggest supporter was my mom. I was raised in a house with my mom and my three sisters. But my dad was a real important part of my life to. I don’t want to get it twisted like he wasn’t there. I was just raised by my mom. My inspiration definitely comes from my mom though. She worked hard and worked two or three jobs so we had everything we needed. She never gave up on us. That’s where I get my drive. Just thinking about what she did for us, I can go out there and play a game and not get tired. So whenever I do get tired, I just think about that.
Spencer: Did you play any other sports growing up?
Chaney: I played basketball. The first sport I played was actually baseball, and I was pretty good at it. I just liked football better. I ran a little track in high school. I played a lot of sports. Anything to keep me busy.
Spencer: Do you have any odd hobbies or hidden talents?
Chaney: I don’t think I have any hidden talents. I’m a member of Phi Beta Sigma, so we do a lot of dancing and step stuff.
Spencer: Do you have any particular goals for your pro day coming up on the 26th?
Chaney: Just showcasing that I can move. I did a good job of that at the Combine, but we didn’t do a lot of linebacker drills there. Just show them that I can move very fluid, I can flip my hips. I might just run the 40 again. I ran a good time at the Combine, but I think I can do better. More than anything, it’s just another opportunity to go out there and compete.
Spencer: Last question for you. If you’re a scout and you’re trying to convince your GM to draft Jamar Chaney, how do you convince them?
Chaney: I would just say he’s a leader on the field. He’s gonna do it right on the field but also off the field. He’s a great motivator. You can just ask the players that are around him. Ask the players at Mississippi State how much I impact them on and off the football field. He’s just a hard worker. I’ve had three strength coaches and they’d tell you the same. I’ve had three defensive coordinators and they’d tell you the same. I’ve had four linebacker coaches and they’d tell you the same. He’s gonna go out there and lay it on the line. Just watch my film. I’ve had to go against some great backs like Joseph Addai, the fullback for the Ravens, Le’Ron McClain. I played against him my freshman and sophomore years and beat him up in the holes.
Spencer: Thanks a lot for taking a few minutes to talk with me today. Best of luck to you at your Pro Day on the 26th and in the draft!
Chaney: Alright, I appreciate it!