The final group for testing, the drills these defensive backs run are a lot like the receivers do, and scouts can expect the same results.
Some corners have outstanding speed and quickness but need to show up in the coverage part of the day. Some need to show they have the speed to keep up with each and every receiver at the pro level.
And scouts should be in for a treat when the safeties begin to workout, as they’ll get to see some of the most intriguing set of safeties a draft class has ever seen, from a baseball pitcher to an athletic freak to a Rhodes Scholar.
Crezdon Butler, CB, Clemson
Projected from what I’ve scouted to be the fastest 40 time cornerback in this class, Butler will need it if he hopes to be a lock to get drafted.
Butler played very well at times this season, but doesn’t have the toughness to handle bigger receivers.
If he can run in the 4.35 area like I believe he’s capable of, he could emerge as a solid option in dime packages at the very least and could be a valuable asset in special teams, both as a return man and a gunner.
Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky
After being one of the top three returning seniors in this cornerback draft class come the beginning of the season, Lindley didn’t live up to his first round projection hype.
He was inconsistent and very beatable at times. Whether that was because of a lack of pass rush, a lack of safety help, or poor coaching, he unfortunately can’t rely on that to re-boost his draft stock.
Lindley needs to showcase his athleticism in both the turn and run drills as well as in the shuttles if he hopes to get back in the second round draft discussion.
Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
Also viewed as a first round lock coming into this season, Robinson more or less didn’t dominate rather than get beat.
He no question has the talents and at times last season, he seemed to be a shutdown cornerback in college against some solid pro-style offensive teams. Florida State is known for having some great coverage players in general, including the defensive back field.
If he can run in the low 4.4s and make some good breaks on the ball in the hip turn drill, he could put himself back in that first round discussion. As of now, he’s on the outside of the Top 40 in my books.
Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State
I am a huge fan of Perrish Cox, slotting him as the second best cornerback in this draft behind the more complete Joe Haden.
Cox shut down players like AJ Green in college, and his physical play and ball skills makes him a nightmare for inaccurate quarterbacks. With a good pass rush, Cox could be a 5+ interception a year kind of a guy.
His biggest concern as a prospect is his speed. Here’s his threshold:
If he runs higher than a 4.6, he’ll likely be viewed as a Cover 2 cornerback, which will limit which teams will look at him in round one. If he runs lower than a 4.5, he’ll have a shot to go as high as 13 to the 49ers and is very unlikely to drop out of the first round.
Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma
Somewhat of a frustrating declaree in my mind, I would have liked to see Franks stay in college and work on his technique as a cornerback before turning pro.
He’s now viewed as a little bit of a project of at cornerback but has the athletic ability to be a future starter in many schemes.
He needs to show good hip fluidity and speed if he hopes to try and land in the first round, but a poor showing in the shuttle or cone drill as well could push him out of the top three rounds of the draft.
Franks could rise like Aqib Talib did in 2008 or could fade to the mid to late rounds at this combine.
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
A great athlete at cornerback, he should be a first round pick no question. But, for some reason, scouts aren’t happy enough with his game film and need some combine numbers to solidify that status.
Wilson has been third on our board of cornerbacks (behind Haden and Cox) a majority of the year, and even for his size, he has knocked a side of the field off just by his coverages.
He offers value as a return man as well, so running in the low 4.4s could futher add to his versatility. I have no doubts that Wilson will show up in the hip fluidity drills and should leave the combine a Top 25 prospect on most boards.
Reshad Jones, S, Georgia
In the pre-season, myself and a host of other draft publications like Jones to be a fringe first round safety.
Jones, as a sophomore, flew all around the field, delivered punishing hits, and showed growth as a coverage safety. However, he didn’t seem to improve all that much in coverage as a junior and teams game-planned around his big hit ability.
He’ll need to show scouts he has the quickness, explosiveness, and coverage ability to be an every down safety. Otherwise, he could see himself as a third rounder at the very best and likely could be another junior declaree to fall in the draft.
Chad Jones, S, LSU
Obviously a great athlete, Jones was (now in the past tense) a top notch baseball prospect and had been drafted twice as a pitcher.
But, he decided to cut the diamond dream short and go to his first passion, the gridiron. With his 6’3" size and strength to deliver big hits, he fits the mold of a roaming safety who can move sideline to sideline.
He’ll need to show that smoothness as an athlete in space and will need to show good enough speed to play the deep half of the field.
Taylor Mays, S, USC
If you’re looking for a wow-athlete (maybe not a natural football player) at this combine, then you’ll be in awe of Taylor Mays.
At 6’3", 220, he could dominate in the shuttles and cone drill because of his natural bending and hip fluidity. Also, don’t be shocked if this linebacker sized run-stuffing safety runs a sub 4.4 40 time.
On film, he doesn’t look like he’s a lock to be a starter consistently at the next level and may just be the second coming of Roy Williams, former Pro Bowl-then-cut Dallas Cowboy.
Myron Rolle, S, Florida State
I’ve never heard of a prospect who took a year off of football for a good reason (Rolle went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar) and came back in shape as though he never left.
Rolle played outstanding for a prospect who took an entire year off to focus on his studies and played well in his first football game back since being a highly-touted prospect and productive safety at Florida State.
Now, Rolle will display his top notch athletic ability here at the Combine. If he can show he hasn’t lost his quickness or fluidity as an athlete, he could re-emerge as a solid second round pick.
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