Tuesday marked the final day for the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, and as always, the defensive backs were the final group to go.
Alabama CB Dee Milliner was the big winner of the day, by far. Although he dropped some balls during the defensive back pass catching drills, you can chalk that up to his torn labrum. Milliner had plenty of questions about his speed going into the Combine and he silenced all of the critics. Milliner posted a 4.37 40-yard-dash and then added a 36″ vertical leap. Add in the fact that he is 6′ 201 lbs, you can bank on him going in the Top 10, and probably the Top 5. It was a very good day for Milliner who was fluid in his drills and showed off his athleticism. The only thing he has left to do is have successful surgery on his labrum.
Former LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu also had a great day going through drills. Mathieu has always been known for being quicker rather than fast, but posted a respectable 4.5 40-yard-dash. Like Milliner, he was smooth in drills and definitely had the best ball skills of all the defensive backs there. The only issues for Mathieu are his size (5’9″ 186 lbs) and his strength. Mathieu put up a paltry four reps on the bench, which raises the questions as to what he was doing in the weight room for the past year. There will always be questions about his character and his ability to stay out of trouble, but based on the Combine, I think a team will take a flyer on him in the 4th round.
After his Junior year, NC State CB David Amerson was highly coveted and was thought to be the best corner coming into the 2013 draft, since he decided to stay in school. After a shaky Senior season, he had to prove himself at the Combine and he did exactly that. He weighed in at 6’1″ 205 lbs, ran a 4.44 40-yard-dash and posted a 35.5″ vertical with 15 reps in the bench. Very solid numbers for a bigger corner. During the on-field drills Amerson showed the ability that he did during his Junior year. He moved well on the field, did a good job catching the ball and was very quick. Amerson will be rising back up draft boards in no time.
The final cornerback that had a very good day was Washington’s Desmond Trufant. He absolutely blew coaches out of the water when he posted his 4.38 40-yard-dash, with 16 reps on the bench and a 37.5″ vertical at 6′ 190 lbs. He’s another smooth moving corner with rare quickness which showed during his 20-yard shuttle when he posted a 3.85 time. Trufant will need to work on his cover skills, but his athleticism will have him moving up teams draft boards.
One of the defensive backs that turned in a poor performance was Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks. His stock took a hit when he ran only a 4.61 forty and put up only 10 reps on the bench. He had trouble catching the ball during drills and had a lot of double catches, which coaches hate to see. Banks is 6’2″ 185 lbs, so he’s another big corner just like the Seattle Seahawks like. On film Banks has looked very good and he won the Jim Thorpe Award last year as the nation’s best defensive back. I’m not saying Banks will see a major drop and fall out of the first round. But it’s possible now, and Milliner has separated himself as the #1 corner. I’m sure there are plenty of teams that are happy that Banks had a bad day, so they can take a chance on him as he slides down the board. His Pro Day will be very important for him, because he needs to show that he is faster than 4.61 and that he isn’t merely a big corner that won’t translate to the NFL.
Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer who had a big Senior Bowl week lost the ground he gained when he went to the Combine. Poyer posted a 4.54 forty, which isn’t a huge deal, but his 8 reps on the bench and 30.5″ vertical bring about questions about his athleticism and certainly his strength. He wasn’t very quick during drills which showed during games, and seemed to have trouble getting off blocks and making tackles during the season. Unfortunately for him, teams will probably see the Senior Bowl as an anomaly, as Poyer showed he isn’t a quick twitch athlete and wasn’t fluid during the drills.
It’s always a shame when the Combine ends because it’s always one of the more interesting parts of the NFL Draft process, and easily one of my favorite weeks of the year. Teams will always put too much stock into the numbers they get from the Combine, and there will always be teams that don’t consider them enough. At the end of the day, it just something that gives you stuff to talk about prior to the NFL Draft.