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NFL Combine 2018 Results: Monday Highlights, Reaction and Recap

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2018

Florida State defensive back Derwin James runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The last day of workouts at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine was reserved for the defensive backs Monday and they did not disappoint. 

Some of the most athletic players in the class took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, showcasing pure speed and explosiveness in a variety of drills.

With potential top-10 picks like Derwin James, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward and more, there were plenty of big names to watch in this last day of action.

There was also a chance to see Rich Eisen complete his annual 40-yard dash.

Here is the latest from the actual top prospects and most notable events from Monday's action.

                

Cornerbacks

Athletes are getting better on the defensive side of the ball, something that Bucky Brooks of NFL.com is happy to see:

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

Different breed of athletes at DB. Hats off to the HS/CFB coaches who convinced these explosive athletes to play defense instead of "touching" the ball.. Size+Speed+AA+Ball Skills=💰 Any HS player measuring 5-10+ should start back pedaling today. There's a lot of $ to be made..

This was seen with the cornerbacks, who posted some blazing times in the 40-yard dash:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

SEVEN sub-4.40 second 40s! The official times for the 2018 #NFLCombine CBs ⤵️ 📺: #NFLCombine LIVE on NFL Network https://t.co/hcodlbr9rY

NFL Research @NFLResearch

In the last decade, 5 defensive backs have run the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds or faster at the Combine 3 of those times came today (all 4.32 exactly): Donte Jackson (@LSUfootball) Parry Nickerson (@GreenWaveFB) Denzel Ward (@OhioStateFB)

Perhaps the most notable member of this group was Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, who finished in 4.32 seconds despite a tweaked ankle that prevented him from participating in individual drills, per Kimberley Jones of NFL.com.

His time was faster than a couple of recent Buckeyes cornerbacks in Marshon Lattimore and Bradley Roby, both of whom have been impressive in the NFL so far:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

It’s an @OhioStateFB Simulcam and it’s @Flash_Ward12 with the edge over @shonrp2 and @BradRoby_1! 📺: #NFLCombine LIVE on NFL Network https://t.co/ujlDEz7MvB

Beyond that, Ward also had the best broad jump at the position at 11 feet, four inches, plus a 39-inch vertical jump. His athleticism only adds to what many have already seen from him on film as a potentially elite cornerback.

Several analysts are looking for him to be an early pick in the draft:

Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks

I ❤️ Denzel Ward. Here’s my comp: https://t.co/zwt5dnlRbo

Connor Rogers @ConnorJRogers

4.32u for Denzel Ward - great tape + incredible athlete, good arm length. I'd be surprised if he doesn't go top 12.

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Denzel Ward cements CB1 status. https://t.co/8M2SvP9DDK

Even those who didn't post blazing numbers impressed in other areas Monday.

Josh Jackson, who had an official 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds, looked good catching the ball:

NFL @NFL

Josh Jackson (@HawkeyeFootball) runs through the gauntlet! (@MikeMayock's #2 CB) #NFLCombine 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/ObfgEBLhbG

The Iowa product was a first-team All-American after leading the country with eight interceptions this year, so his ball skills shouldn't be a surprise. Although the 6'1" cornerback wasn't quite as fast or fluid as some of the other players at the position, he is still a top player in the class.

Charles Davis of Fox discussed some comparisons:

Charles Davis @CFD22

Like @MikeMayock comp of @TheIowaHawkeyes CB Josh Jackson Marcus Peters for instincts. Old school comp? Everson Walls @NFLDraft #NFLCombine

Meanwhile, the other drills shouldn't be overlooked especially at a position like cornerback that requires so much agility.

Louisville's Jaire Alexander, who ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, excelled in this area:

Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks

Just a workout but Jaire Alexander looks much better than Josh Jackson today.

Jonah Tuls @JonahTulsNFL

Just got done watching the cornerback drills. I think it was clear that Jaire Alexander was the best one out there. Not even close.

At 5'11", 192 pounds, Alexander has a chance to shoot up draft boards and find himself in the first round come April. 

           

Safeties

It doesn't appear to be the deepest class at safety, but two certainly stand above the rest.

Florida State's Derwin James was explosive throughout the day:

NFL @NFL

.@derwinjames6! The @FSUFootball star runs a 4.48u 40-yard dash! #NFLCombine 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/GjgSYgQhhL

NFL @NFL

👀 @derwinjames6 records a 40" vertical jump! 🆙 #NFLCombine @FSUFootball https://t.co/TU7hYhFgCM

NFL @NFL

OKAY, @derwinjames6! #NFLCombine @FSUFootball https://t.co/F1Cp6T8GCv

James had a broad jump of 11 feet while hitting 40 inches on the vertical. No matter where he was no the workout field, he was impressive.

Mike Mayock of NFL Network provided a notable comparison for the top prospect:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

.@MikeMayock's NFL comparison for @derwinjames6: @Stuntman1429 📺: #NFLCombine LIVE on NFL Network https://t.co/jI01jMTyjt

The player is known for his versatility, excelling against both the run and the pass while capable of lining up close to the line of scrimmage or deep in coverage. At 6'3", 215 pounds with this level of athleticism, the sky is the limit for James.

Meanwhile, Minkah Fitzpatrick also showed why so many are excited about his potential with a 4.47-second time:

Alabama Football @AlabamaFTBL

"Hey @minkfitz_21, take it to the crib man" - @DeionSanders Minkah Fitzpatrick runs a 4.47u 40-yard dash! #NFLCombine 📺 NFL Network #BamaCombine #DBU #BuiltByBama #RollTide https://t.co/wXYXs2mxc8

All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson was among those impressed by the Alabama star's effort during drills:

Patrick Peterson /P2 @P2

That man looks like he's been putting in work! 👀 https://t.co/FhlvJLqcjG

The Checkdown @thecheckdown

Minkah Fitzpatrick's (@minkfitz_21) technique is just pure art. https://t.co/0AyXWQJhs0

Fitzpatrick has the talent to play either safety or cornerback at the next level, a decision that might simply come down to need by whichever team drafts him.

Both James and Fitzpatrick are likely to come off the board early, so teams might have to move up to get one of these game-changing players.

Although Penn State's Troy Apke might not be as high on some scout lists, a 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds might cause them to recheck the tape:

He posted the fastest time of all safeties, continuing an impressive combine for Penn State players.

                          

Combine results courtesy of NFL.com.

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