Under the blistering Lewisville sun, Jamal Adams practiced flag football; he was age three and his competitors were five and up.
“I was chasing butterflies and running the wrong way when I got the ball,” Adams said, recalling his introduction to the game fondly.
His father George — a former Kentucky standout and NFL running back — headed the team, plugging Adams into the roster to play against older kids. The first time he grabbed the ball, he scrambled the wrong way, gradually making a u-turn after hearing the shouts of his family for his first touchdown in the sport.
“I always played up growing up,” Adams said. “That’s what my dad instilled in me, so I could grow into the football player I am today and dominate.”
Nearly 20 years later, Adams has evolved from a pee-wee standout to a potential Top-5 NFL Draft pick, collecting numerous accolades throughout his journey towards gridiron greatness. NFL.com Draft Profile called him a “natural born leader of men”; the Jordan brand signed him to a stable of 50+ athlete reps; pundits projected him as a high draft pick, despite the tendency of safeties to not go that high.
Because of the evolving landscape of an offense, the secondary position has become increasingly valuable to teams, combatting lobs to three wide receivers and a tight end in a pass-first league. Adams excels at strong safety in the box — a necessary position that most teams crave with average points allowed at an historic high.
“The game is starting to change as far as scheme wise,” Adams said. “We’re starting to have tight ends that can run now. 4-4-2 as you can see.”
“The game is changing. You need safeties in the back end that can cover, can make the calls, can tackle.”
With versatility at the position, Adams shined in his three years with LSU, totalling 209 tackles, 127 solo, 17.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and five interceptions, where he played everything in the backend. The success from the Tigers emanated from his time at Hebron, where he played varsity as a freshman and lead the team to a UIL State Finals appearance in his senior campaign.
“Shout out to Hebron high school matter of fact,” Adams proclaimed, reflecting on his alma mater. “It was a journey that took me a long way leading up to college. Coach Hurd… which is my coach throughout high school… it isn’t even about football. It’s about the fact that he pushed me to run track. I didn’t want to run track. His practices were hard. We had 10×400’s everyday. I hated it, but something about it made sense where it would help me in the long run and it did. Helping my speed, starting four years on the varsity team since high school helped as well, and just leading me to college starting as a true freshman.”
Adams hoped for a strong showing during his Combine workouts. He posted the following numbers:
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds
Broad jump: 10 feet, 0 inches
Vertical jump: 31.5 inches
3-cone drill: 6.96 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.13 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 11.92 seconds
The 40-yard dash ranked somewhere in the middle of the pack and his 60-yard was dreadful, but his 18 reps on the bench press was two off the top mark for his position and his 20-yard shuttle was the second-best amongst safeties. Despite a hot-and-cold showing, Adams is not deterred that he deserves the top honor come April.
“I feel like I’m the best guy in the draft. I definitely feel like i should be the number one pick.”
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