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February 29, 2012 @ 9:53 am
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NFL Combine Day 4 Impressions: Defensive Backs

Written by Eric
Dellaratta
Eric Dellaratta

Eric
Dellaratta

Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The last group of position players, the defensive backs, took to the field Tuesday for scouts and NFL personnel to evaluate. Beat writer Eric Dellaratta gives his impressions of the DBs who improved their stock for the upcoming NFL Draft in April.
The defensive backs were the last group to show their skills at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Tuesday. As there has been the previous three days, a few players turned some heads and raised some eyebrows.

Defensive Backs
Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson stole the show on Tuesday in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash, which was the best among the defensive backs. Robinson also recorded a broad jump measurement of 11’1, which tied Stephen Hill for the best broad jump at this year’s Combine. He even finished second among defensive backs in the vertical jump with a leap of 38.5. The UCF standout helped out his draft stock greatly and his Combine performance has put him in third round conversations.

LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne is the best defensive back in this year’s draft class; he could arguably be the best defensive player in the draft as well. The Buccaneers could select Claiborne with the fifth overall selection in April. Claiborne looked very fluid in all of the position drills and has fantastic ball skills. He displayed great footwork and fluid hips in addition to running a solid 40-yard dash time of 4.47. The LSU stud is the best technician of the cornerbacks in this draft class and he definitely warrants a high draft pick.

Some have questioned Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard’s straight-line speed. Dennard showed off his speed by running a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, which was faster than most were expecting him to run. The Cornhusker senior performs extremely well in press coverage and would fit very well with a team that focuses on press coverage schematically. Dennard didn’t have a great Senior Bowl week before he got injured during one of the practices, so his Combine performance definitely helped his stock.

Stephon Gilmore ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and looked very solid in all of the position drills. Gilmore (6-foot, 190 pounds) possesses ideal size and speed to be successful at the NFL level. On tape, Gilmore is a gambler that will need to work on his ball skills. He’s a raw prospect, but with the right coaching he could be a very good NFL cornerback. Gilmore is projected to be a high second-round pick, and he could be an option for the Buccaneers at the top of the second round.

Boise State safety George Iloka did not look great in the position drills on Tuesday. He wasn’t very agile and displayed tight hips when dropping into coverage. The Boise State Bronco ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times. Iloka is a big, physical run defender that tackles well, but he also performs well in pass coverage. His elite size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and arm length (34 ½) is something that intrigues a lot of people. He is very instinctive and can produce big plays for the defense. Iloka is not the most agile defensive back so he will need to play more as an in-the-box safety. He looks like he would fit best at the strong safety position where he could use his size to cover some of the more athletic tight ends in the game today. Iloka looks like a mid-round pick that could be a great special teams player and an eventual starter for an NFL defense.

Two defensive backs to keep eye on are Ron Brooks and Brandon Taylor from LSU. The Buccaneers hired former LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper earlier this month, so he will know more about the LSU defensive backs than anyone else.

Taylor was an underrated player in the star-studded LSU secondary. He plays both the run and the pass well and can deliver some big hits. He ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, but he is much faster on the football field. Brooks ran a time of 4.37 which was the fifth best time in the defensive backs group in the 40-yard dash. He also recorded a vertical jump of 38, which was the third best of the defensive backs. Brooks was stuck behind Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne for much of his career and saw most of his looks in the nickel slot position. He could be a late round target with some upside.

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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I know nobody is considering this but Smith, safety out of ND looks GREAT at the underwear olympics. When Mayock and Prime Time both give high praise to this guy, I got a good feeling about him. Take a shot in the 2nd on this guy!
  • avatar


    The bucs need to make a run at Mike Wallacen(Pitt) and Hicks( NO) in FA. I heard pitt wont franchise wallace and the saints wont have enough to keep Brees and Hicks. Draft CB claiborne1st, LB 2nd, and RB James in the 3rd.
  • avatar

    Dont know about you guys but I'm sick of seeing EVERY DAMN TEAM run on us. Draft a frickin LB 1st
  • avatar


    Trade down and take this LB, Kuechly. As many are saying we need MORE picks. I wish we had the situation the Lightning have with 2 1st rounders and 4 second rounders. In any case, we need more picks. Richie McKay was brilliant at stockpiling first round picks. Dominic has been brilliant with the late round picks. Wish we had both.
  • avatar

    Lets think we should move down in the draft. What we need that seems to be a lack of in free agency are 2 linebackers. Nobody seems to be looking for them early in the draft so we can move down and get the best one or second best in the first round. There are plenty of good DBs to get in later rd. WR we can get in FA. Drafting a good LB 1st, I think would be smart. What you guys think?
  • avatar


    scarface, trade down; then we can pick any position we care too. I just don't see a dynamic player at the 5 spot unless we dare to draft BAP.
  • avatar


    I agree with my buddy Horse. The best thing for Dominik to do is trade down. I'm not sure the player left for us at five is a top five player.
  • avatar


    I say that If Claiborne is gone at #5 Then I believe Tampa could go several ways one way I say Tampa gets both the no#17 and the #21. Then also swap positions with Cinn in #3 and pickup another pick in Rd-4. Then I say this Tampa would select CB Janoris Jenkins from N Bams at #17. Then at 21 OLB Nick Perry from USC. At the No#4 pick in the 2nd Rd I would get my choice on what RB is left.This Tampa would select the players they need and still could get more trades down the road. GO Bucs
  • avatar


    any possibility of doubling up? caliborne in the first and janoris jenkins in the second?
  • avatar

    I want coastal Carolina corner... I think his last name is Norman? He is going to be a steal in the 3rd or 4th round.
  • avatar

    All I can say is that MLB Vontaz Burfict is the meanist player in the draft and we all know that the combine is not a good measuring stick for talent. The Bucs need a Waren Sapp type "attitude" on the field because our front 7 are soft and with the way this kid is falling we should be able to get him in the 3rd or maybe even the fith pick. He is considered a top 10 talent but he has mental issues (They said the same stuff about Blount). If we draft this kid it will be an immediate upgrade and Fostor can slide over to will and Dakota Watson can take the strong side. 1st pick RB Trent Richardson, 2nd pick WR Stephen Hill, 3rd pick CB Brandon Boykin, 5th pick MLB Vontaze Burfict, 6th pick OLB Tank Carder, 7th pick QB Kellen Moore. We need a proven vetran CB in free agency which will be the only big name FA we sign.
  • avatar

    Burfict is a moron. No thanks. Also, did you happen to see Kellen Moore throw at the combine? Terrible. He can chuck the pill about 25 yards, max. Doesn't fit the mold of "taking shots downfield." IMO
  • avatar

    YEEESSSSS!!! Burfict please!!!!...Love your analysis Mlloye!!! But Burfict will not there 5th Round....no way...some team is gonna draft him in the 2nd round and get the steal of the draft!!!
  • avatar


    Horse, 5-7 spots is so very possible this year. Skins @ 6, Miami @ 8, Seattle @ 12, & Arizona @ 13. Who wants Ryan Tannehill more? On the flip side, Jorden Jefferson LSU QB reportedly had a very bad Combine. If he's still there at the bottom of the draft, at 6'4" and a rocket arm he could be a nice backup. Athleticism would be good in practice to simulate Newton, Arm could simulate Brees, and he hasn't won a playoff game--to simulate Ryan.
  • avatar


    @Horse--Certainly wouldn't be upset with Claiborne as the pick, but I'm talking late round DB's--depth & Special Teams.Check out the Giants roster, they really are giants. Coach Schiano says physically imposing. Hard to be physically imposing when you're giving up 4 inches and 30 pounds.
  • avatar


    mjmoody, I would love to trade down about 5-7 spots and take a LB which I believe is more important than the CB position. In the past we had always a dominating LB group which fed on each other for years. I have to admit though we haven't always been successful at picking LB's in the first round except for Brooks and Green.
  • avatar

    Dre Kirkpatrick, would be a great pick if they chose to trade down. At 6'2" ran the same time as Claiborne and looked good in drills at the combine.
  • avatar

    The Bucs might be in a position to draft the best player available and have the player fill a big need. Claiborne makes a lot of sense with the 5th pick. Of course, Claiborne could be gone before the Bucs pick, in which case there's a much tougher decision to make. I'm not completely sold on Blackmon or Richardson with the pick. If the Bucs can land someone like Vincent Jackson in free agency, drafting a WR becomes less important. Williams and Benn might end up being solid receivers with a change of culture.
  • avatar

    http://m.nfl.com/combine/blogs/2012/02/28/official-40yard-dash-results-defensive-backs/
  • avatar

    Not as fast as I thought:(
  • avatar

    ClaIborn is not 6" he is 5 11" and he ran an official time of 4.5
  • avatar


    jongruden if I'd read your post before I typed I would have agreed. Little disappointing he didn't run sub 4.4 but only a Little disappointing. The Bucs' have 2 years of top picks tied up in the D-line. The best way to help them is to improve the backside of the defense. (Assuming we are Building through the draft)
  • avatar


    There were plenty of 6' DB's with good hands and a reputation of hard tackles on display Tuesday. Maybe the Bucs' could find a couple guys with this skill set for depth and Special Teams. Please PR (the undisputed king of draft picks choke choke Larry English) no more 5'10" speedy CB's. This isn't your daddy's NFL. Big Bodied zone coverage wins Super Bowls. Everyone please join me in waving goodbye to Elbert Mack.
  • avatar


    mjmoody, I didn't realize all those CB's who won the Superbowl's these past several years were over 6'? I guess based on that we should draft Claiborne no matter what since he is 6'? All I am saying is that if there is a team who wants to trade up, I believe that this is a good year for us to do this since one impact player won't get us into the playoff in 2012; we need a lot more help than that.
  • avatar

    To be honest I will wait until free agency is over before I say anything about the 5th overall draft pick, because whatever we say doesn't really matter. We can rant about who they should pick, but if the Bucs fill the need of that position in free agency it will basically shorten the list of perspective draft picks and they might just go with the best available player in the draft or trade down.
  • avatar

    Horse, you take the top rated corner in the draft and thats what we need how would have AZ benefited last yr by not taking Patrick pederson and traded down to get lesser talent, nuff said
  • avatar


    jongruden, there is no question that Claiborne is good. I don't believe he is that good to take him if there is a higher rated player available at the No. 5 spot. I would definitely consider trading if there is a team who would like to trade up and take even Claiborne; I'm fine with it if we can get extra draft picks. After reading what Mark had to say after watching our present players on tape, it appears that we need quite a few new players.
  • avatar

    With the current lackluster talent on our roster at CB this pick is a no brainer Claiborne will be the pick and I don't care if kalil is theirl Claiborne is the pick you can turn the card in now.
  • avatar


    Thanks Eric for the info. I am still sticking to my mantra: BAP or trade down and get something for the No. 5 spot.
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