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Pewter Report offers up its analysis of the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine workouts of the cornerbacks and safeties on Tuesday. Who are some of the players that impressed? Find out by reading the analysis found below.
CORNERBACK COMBINE ANALYSIS by Scott Reynolds
Tyvon Branch, UConn – The 5-foot-11, 204-pound Branch turned in the fastest 40-yard dash time in Indy (4.31), which was impressive for a cornerback his size. But Branch does have smallish hands (8 3/8 inches) and a less than average wingspan (31 inches) for a taller cornerback. He also possesses kick return return ability and averaged 28.9 yards per attempt with two touchdowns in 2007. Branch, who is projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick, is a good tackling cornerback but lacks ball skills. As a senior, he broke up 10 passes but did not record an interception. He only had three picks at UConn.
Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech – The junior cornerback was considered among the top five players at his position coming into the Combine, but many scouts had wished he had stayed in school. Weighing in at 5-9 ¾, 189 pounds, Flowers ran a pedestrian 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, but did a respectable 18 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. The problem is that his physicality and toughness were not able to be demonstrated at the Combine. Flowers had a very average position average in Indy. Once thought to be a lock for the first round, Flowers could tumble into the second, or perhaps the third round.
Justin King, Penn State – King left the Nittany Lions after his junior season and ran one of the faster 40-yard dash times of 4.31 to go along with 14 reps on the bench press. However, NFL scouts wish he would have stayed for his senior season as he is still raw in some areas. Although King broke up 21 passes over the past two years, including 15 as a senior, he came away with only three interceptions at Penn State. King’s Combine workout likely didn’t hurt or help his stock too much and he is destined to be second- or third-round pick.
Patrick Lee, Auburn – Lee ran a solid 4.41 in the 40-yard dash and solidified his standing as a second-round cornerback. He posted a respectable 15 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press in Indy and did not hurt himself with his position drill workouts. The 6-foot, 200-pound Lee picked off a total of five passes at Auburn, including four as a senior. He is regarded as a bit of a late bloomer, whose better days at cornerback are likely ahead of him in the NFL with good coaching.
Leodis McKelvin, Troy – McKelvin, who is not just a good cornerback but also an accomplished punt returner (seven return TDs in his career, including three as a senior), may have solidified his spot as the top cornerback prospect in the 2008 NFL Draft. He weighed in at 5-foot-10 ¼ and weighed 190 pounds and blazed a great 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash. McKelvin did 17 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. McKelvin had a very good workout in Indy and showed the ability to flip his hips and turn and run in coverage. The Bucs were scouting him hard at the Senior Bowl.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State – Rodgers-Cromartie, the second cousin of San Diego’s Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie, weighed in at 6-foot-1 1/2, 184 pounds and was one of the tallest cornerbacks at Indianapolis. He had a great week at the Senior Bowl and blew up with an official 40-yard dash time of 4.33 and 17 reps of 225 pounds. Rodgers-Cromartie finished his senior season with 37 tackles, two INT returns for touchdowns, 13 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, four blocked kicks, and a kick return for a touchdown. “DRC” has solidified himself as at least a second-round cornerback and may have worked his way into the lower part of the first round in Indy. The Brandenton, Fla. prospect has more than picqued the Bucs’ interest with his playmaking ability, but there is a question as to how physical a player he is.
Aqib Talib, Kansas – The 6-foot ¾, 202 had a very good Combine and dazzled scouts with a 38-inch vertical jump, which is impressive for a bigger cornerback. But what scouts really wanted to see was his time in the 40-yard dash and Talib did not disappoint with a solid 4.48 time. Although he underwhelmed on the bench press with just 10 reps of 225 pounds, the gambling Talib did enough to solidify himself as one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the draft and will either be a late first round or high second round pick. He is on Tampa Bay’s radar screen, but not the first cornerback on their board.
Mike Jenkins, South Florida – Jenkins, who checked in at 5-foot-10 1/4, 197 pounds, had an exceptional on-field workout, according to NFL scouts and solidified his first-round status with a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash. He also showed good strength with 18 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Jenkins, who can also return kicks, is a pure cover corner and lacks ideal production. In four seasons at USF, Jenkins logged only 103 tackles, an average of 26 per year, and just six interceptions. However, Jenkins did break up 26 passes, including a career-high 11 as a senior. The hometown prospect is being targeted by Tampa Bay, who will consider using the 20th overall selection on him if he’s available.
Dwight Lowery, San Jose State – Lowery didn’t run a fast 40-yard dash at the Combine, clocking in the 4.56 range. That will likely solidify his status as a third- or fouth-round cornerback. Lowery, who posted 16 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press in Indy, recorded 13 picks over the last two years, including nine as a junior in 2006. He had a solid week at the East-West Shrine Game and collected another interception there. The Bucs like his playmaking ability and nose for the ball and he is one of the second tier of cornerbacks they are targeting.
Antoine Cason, Arizona – Cason helped himself at the Combine with a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash. Some scouts feared he would run in the high 4.5’s. He also impressed with 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. At 6-foot, 191 pounds with a nice blend of size, strength and production (15 career interceptions in college), Cason is a lock to go in the second round, although it would not be out of the question to see the right team spend a late first-round pick on him, either. Tampa Bay has been targeting Cason and he could wind up as a Buccaneer.
DeJuan Tribble, Boston College – The 5-foot-8 ¾, 189-pound Tribble had a disappointing 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash, although that was not unexpected from NFL scouts. Tribble has short arms (30 ¼ inches) and small hands (8 ¼ inches) and put up just 13 reps on the bench press. His workout was considered average and he will likely remain a second-day draft pick. Tribble isn’t off Tampa Bay’s wish list at cornerback, but he is not among the top 10, either.
Charles Godfrey, Iowa – Godfrey checked in with great size at the Combine, weighing 207 pounds and measuring 5-foot-11 ½. However, he benched only 14 reps of 225 pounds, which was a bit underwhelming for a bigger cornerback. He ran unofficial times of 4.41 and 4.47, which are good for a player of his size. Godfrey looks more like a safety than he does a cornerback and has great special teams ability. He is a bit of a late bloomer as he recorded five of his seven career interceptions as a senior. Godfrey is projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick.
Tracy Porter, Indiana – The 5-foot-10 ¾, 188-pound Porter was one of the fastest corners at the Combine, running a 4.37 and doing well in the skill position drills. Porter repped 225 pounds 18 times on the bench press and showed off his athleticism. He had 16 career picks at Indiana, including six as a senior, and was a playmaker for the Hoosiers. With the ability to return punts boosting his stock, Porter is an option for the Buccaneers in the second round.
Orlando Scandrick, Boise State – The 5-foot-10, 192-pound junior should have stayed in school for his senior season. Although he did not bench press in Indy, he turned in one of the fastest 40-times with a 4.32, which was the second-fastest official time. He only produced four interceptions in three years as a starter, but did defend 24 passes. In Indy, he showed that he can open his hips and that he was a fluid athlete. Scandrick can let his emotions get the best of him at times, but his speed and the fact that he can star on special teams – he had five blocked kicks in his career – will get him drafted in the fourth or fifth round.
Terrence Wheatley, Colorado – Wheatley helped himself at the Combine with a 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash. The 5-foot-9 1/2, 187-pound cornerback did 17 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and showed great quickness in position drills. Once thought of as a fourth-round cornerback, Wheatley may have moved up into the third round after his performance at Indy. He has 14 career interceptions, including five in each of the past two seasons. He missed the 2005 season after breaking his wrist, which is now permanently fused. Wheatley had a good Senior Bowl and is on Tampa Bay’s radar screen.
Trae Williams, South Florida – Williams didn’t help his stock much at the Combine by running a 4.53 40-yard dash, but that was not unexpected by scouts. He had a good showing at the East-West Shrine Game and finished his senior season with six interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns – this coming on the heels of recording seven interceptions in 2006 as a junior. Williams is projected as a third- or fourth-round prospect due to his lack of ideal foot speed, but the Bucs have been keeping close tabs on him.
SAFETIES COMBINE SCOOP by Jim Flynn
Miami free safety Kenny Phillips (6-2, 212) put his athletic ability on display at the NFL Combine. He showed good range and posted a 4.54 time in the 40-yard dash and had 19 reps of 225 pounds. Those numbers, along with Phillips' ballhawking skills (16 interceptions at Miami), likely solidifies his spot as the top safety taken in this year's draft. … Stanford free safety DaJuan Morgan (6-0, 205) also fared well on Tuesday. He had 21 reps of 225 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, which is a good time for a safety. Morgan, who has played all four defensive backs positions and is coming out as a junior, has good hips, but he tends to takes bad angles and gets beat deep too often. However, he's still one of the top safeties in this draft class. … Cal's Thomas DeCoud (6-1, 207) didn't participate in the 40-yard dash or some other drills, which could hurt his stock as he was only a one-year starter at Cal. DeCoud has nice range and registered 198 tackles. Although he intercepted just one pass, DeCoud used his long arms to block a whopping six kicks at Cal. He's a tackling machine, but not considered a ballhawk. DeCoud could be a risky pick on the first day. … One player that really helped himself on Tuesday was Arizona State S Josh Barrett. The 6-foot-1, 223-pound Barrett had a great showing at the NFL Combine, benching 225 pounds a total of 17 times and posting a 4.36 time in the 40-yard dash, which was indeed impressive. Barrett has good lateral movement and looks more like a linebacker than a safety, but he's aggressive in run support and has the speed to make plays in the passing game. If he can stay healthy, which is a big question given his track record for injuries in college, Barrett could be a good safety in the NFL, but probably not one the Bucs would look at since they seem to be set at the safety position with starters Tanard Jackson and Jermaine Phillips, and backups Will Allen and Sabby Piscitelli on their roster. … Arkansas State S Tyrell Johnson (5-11, 207) opened some eyes at the Combine today. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and showed great upper body strength by benching 225 pounds a total of 27 times. Johnson is aggressive against the run and is considered a good tackler. He lacks great size and will need to add some bulk at the next level. … Army S Caleb Campbell (6-2, 223) has good size and strength, evidenced by his ability to bench 225 pounds a total of 24 times. … On the other hand, Texas S Marcus Griffen (5-11, 198) didn't fare well in the 40-yard dash (4.71) or the bench press, where he benched 225 pounds a total of just 13 times. That could really hurt his stock. … While he might wind up being a better cornerback than a safety, Texas El-Paso's Quintin Demps (6-0, 203) ran an impressive 4.33 40-yard dash time on Tuesday. … One player that the Bucs could eye if he drops into the later rounds is Notre Dame S Tom Zbikowski. The 5-foot-11, 211-pound Zbikowski took too many bad angles at Notre Dame and played in a suspect secondary, but he scored seven career touchdowns as a defensive back and return specialist. He's also considered a good athlete due to the fact that he boxes. Zbikowski helped himself at the Combine by running the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and benching 225 pounds a total of 24 times. The Buccaneers might have to replace S Kalvin Pearson on special teams this year. He's scheduled to become a restricted free agent, but wants a long-term deal from the Bucs. Tampa Bay doesn't appear to be willing to give Pearson the contract he's looking for.
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