Monday at the NFL Combine made for another particularly exciting afternoon for Bucs fans, as it meant it was time for defensive backs to run the 40-yard dash and show their fluidity in position drills. The in-state prospects – Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III and FSU’s Jalen Ramsey – put on a show, while Ohio St. cornerback Eli Apple clocked in a 4.40 40-time and Southern Utah safety Miles Killebrew benched 22 reps.
Below are some notes from the defensive back performances on Monday. • Jalen Ramsey, seen by many as the draft’s top defensive back, posted an impressive 4.41 40-time and benched a respectable 14 reps. The former Seminole also had the highest vertical jump at 41.5, showing his elite athleticism. Ramsey, who can play both corner and safety, will almost certainly be taken in the top 5 this April, well out of the Bucs reach.
• One player who’s seen his name next to Tampa Bay in many mock drafts is Vernon Hargreaves III. At 5-foot-11, 192-pounds, his size could be an issue, though he certainly showed some strength by putting up 15 reps on the bench Monday. Hargreaves ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds, which was likely expected and had a great vertical jump of 39 inches. The question with Hargreaves is whether or not he can match up against taller wide receivers, something he did fairly well at throughout college.
• Mackensie Alexander didn’t participate in agility drills on Monday, as he continues to deal with a pulled hamstring. The Clemson prospect has claimed that he’s the draft’s best cornerback, and his tape could make a strong case. But the Combine likely won’t likely help his stock, at least from an ability standpoint. Alexander posted an underwhelming 11 reps on the bench.
• Ohio State’s Eli Apple, built similarly to Johnthan Banks at 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, blazed through the 40-yard dash with a 4.40 time. The long-armed corner benched 11 reps. Apple is known as an athletic corner with great technique in coverage (22 pass breakups in 2015), but a guy who lacks physicality for his size. He’ll likely be taken in the first-round.
• Alabama’s Cyrus Jones, who many wide receivers heaped praise on during their interviews at the Combine, didn’t blow anyone away during the workouts. He posted a decent 4.49 40, but benched just 10 reps and posted a 33 and 116 vertical and broad, respectively. That said, game tape against top competition should help Jones in the draft. The 5-foot-9 corner is still seen as a mid-round prospect who will ultimately play in the nickel spot.
• William Jackson of Houston, who was injured during the Senior Bowl, had an excellent day, turning in a 4.37 40 time and showed very good footwork and agility during the on the field portion of the Combine. Jackson, who was viewed as a second rounder coming into the workouts in Indianapolis, may have done enough over the weekend to see his name called in the latter half of the first round. • As for safeties, Southern Utah’s Miles Killebrew ran a somewhat disappointing 4.65 40-yard dash, leading Mike Mayock to believe that something was wrong with him. He did, however, do well on the bench, throwing up 22 reps. Killebrew made up for his 40-time a little bit with an impressive 38 inch vertical and 127 inch broad jump. Killebrew has been described as a great tackler but with average instincts in coverage.
• West Virginia’s Karl Joseph, Mike Mayock’s top ranked safety, didn’t participate at the Combine as he’s still recovering from an ACL injury suffered at the end of last season. Similarly, Vonn Bell out of Ohio State had limited participation at the Combine as he, too, is dealing with an injury.
• DeAndre Houston-Carson from William & Marry clocked in at 4.54 in the 40-yard dash. A former corner, Houston-Carson is more known for speed and coverage than he is for is ability to play in the box. At the Senior Bowl he listed run-stopping as an area he’s looking forward to improving.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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