The defensive backs were on display Tuesday at the NFL
Combine in Indianapolis and several stood out, while a few didn't
perform as well as they would have liked. See who helped raise their
draft status with their efforts on Monday.
The defensive backs were the last group of NFL prospects who went through the annual pre-draft NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, hoping to improve their status for the NFL draft in May. Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, NFL coaches, scouts and pro player personnel had their eyes glued to the two units in hopes of solidifying their opinions of the prospects or maybe even finding a draft-day steal.Cornerbacks
Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert easily solidified himself as the top cornerback in the upcoming NFL Draft posting a lightning quick 4.37 (official) in 40-yard time, exceptionally fast for a cornerback who is 6-0 tall. Gilbert’s athleticism wowed scouts, general managers and the NFL commentators. Just as impressive as his speed in the 40-yard dash, was his on-field work. Gilbert moves exceptionally well for a player his size with very fluid movement, and great hip turn when breaking on the ball. Gilbert’s long arms are another asset that most likely will help his cause to see his name called first of all the defensive backs who will be drafted in May.
Keith McGill came into the Combine viewed most likely as a third-day selection in the upcoming NFL Draft but after Tuesday, he may very well see his name called early on the second day of the draft. Measuring in at 6-3, and posting a vertical jump of 39 inches, McGill has the size to match up with even the biggest wide receivers in the NFL. Then add in his 40 time, clocked at 4.51, and now NFL team will most likely be scrambling to move him up their draft boards.
Jason Verrett from TCU ran an official 40-time of 4.38 seconds and looked solid on the field during drills. The only thing holding him out of the Day 1 draft discussion is Verrett's 5-9 size. Even at that size, his athleticism will intrigue a number of teams and the NFL Network commentators projected him as a starting nickel back in the NFL.
A number of scouts wanted to see the official stopwatch time of Darqueze Dennard’s 40-time and the former Michigan State star didn’t disappoint, turning in a better than some expected 4.51. The knock on Dennard during the on-field performance was what the commentators described as stiffness. Dennard’s production in college was very good but will need to work on fine tuning some aspects of his game to be a top-notch corner in the NFL according to scouts and reports.Safeties
Who will be the first safety off the board in May? The question is still up for grabs as the two that are rated the highest by many mock drafts both performed equally well on Tuesday. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor ran a 4.58 in Indianapolis on Tuesday and was steady during the field drills. Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ran the same 4.58 but most feel he may have edged Pryor during the on the field portion of the drills. Pryor had a great career for Louisville, and probably is more physical, but Clinton-Dix most likely has the edge as far as range in coverage.
FSU’s Lemarcus Joyner and Terrance Brooks both did well on Tuesday but Brooks really stood out on the makeshift sprinter’s track at Lucas Oil Stadium running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. Some of the commentators said Joyner could end up being moved to safety, as he proved during his career in Tallahassee that he has a nose for the football and will come up and deliver a hit.
Overall this year’s crop of defensive backs are, like most of the positions in this years draft, – considerably deeper than one year ago. That helps, and hurts the Buccaneers, as they will most likely get better long-term production from their picks, but wish they had all seven with a draft class as full of talent as this years. The quality of the overall depth could prompt the Buccaneers to move down in order to recoup the two missing picks this year.
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