The defensive backs always work out on the last day and the last day is always the shortest. By this time most of the people watching are burned out, but this group wasn’t a group to sleep on.
Deion Sanders made some good points early on about why young corners struggle in the league and quite frankly, I never thought about it this way before. It really makes you think twice about wanting a corner high in the draft, and it’s a good thing the Lions didn’t take Dee Milliner like I wanted them to last year.
Primetime is my favorite NFL Network Analyst, at least of the former players. Willie McGiniest is a close-second because both of them have a great knowledge of the game and do a very thorough job of analyzing players and actually know what they’re talking about. The only knock on Primtime is the dumbass Leon Sandcastle crap they keep pushing on NFL Network, but that’s not his fault.
The biggest winner of the day, in my mind, was Darqueze Dennard. He didn’t even do all of the measurable drills, but his 40 time was huge. His big knock was that he didn’t have the top-end speed, but something tells me that 4.51 is going to be good enough for a lot of teams. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to ask him to play off coverage and run with the receivers. He’s a press corner and he’s going to bump and be physical at the line. If you’re asking him to play off and run with the receivers not only is Dennard going to be in trouble, but you as a coach will be too. Dennard was solid in drills, but not great. He’s not an elite athlete, he’s just a great football player.
Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, better known as Ha Ha, had a great day and is the best free safety in the draft in my mind. He weighed in at 6’1″ 208 lbs and ran a 4.58 40 and posted a 33″ vertical and added 11 reps on the bench. He definitely needs to get stronger to play free safety in the NFL, but he’s athletic and fluid in coverage. On top of that, Ha Ha is willing to come down in space and support the run. Clinton-Dix looked comfortable moving in space and catching the ball, save for one pass, during the drills at the Combine.
Here’s what Ha Ha and Dennard had to say about their day:
Another big winner and the best corner in the draft was Justin Gilbert. Weighing in at 6′ 202 lbs and running a 4.37 40 is no joke. Especially when you add in 20 reps on the bench, a 35.5″ vertical and a 10’6″ broad jump. Gilbert is very explosive as an athlete and is great in coverage. He’s a playmaker who needs the ball in his hands and like Ha Ha, looked very smooth dropping back into coverage and changing directions. I would like Gilbert on the Lions, but Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix fill more pressing needs.
Calvin Pryor is a name to watch over the next two months and he will certainly be a first round pick. He weighed in at 5’11” 207 lbs and ran a 4.58 40 and added 18 reps on the bench and a 34.5″ vertical. He was a bit stiffer dropping into coverage during drills than Ha Ha, but he has very good ball skills and is a thumper.
Jason Verrett was one of the players I was most impressed with, especially considering he didn’t do the bench press because of a torn labrum. He did the bench at his Pro Day a few days later and put up 19 reps on the bench. There were guys at the Combine who couldn’t do that at 100%. Verrett may only be 5’9″ 189 lbs, but he put up a 4.38 40, a 39″ vertical and a 10’8″ broad jump, all of which are insane numbers. He is a phenomenal athlete and looked great going through all of the drills. He has an explosive first step and can change direction at the drop of a hat, which isn’t surprising given his numbers.
Keith McGill is someone I hadn’t heard of until the Combine, but someone who is 6’3″ 211 lbs and runs a 4.51 40 will catch your eye. Not to mention the fact that McGill added a 39″ vertical and a 10’9″ broad jump, meaning he can cover a massive amount of space. He didn’t bench press but I don’t really care what that is. A guy who is 6’3″ with 33 1/4″ arms and a 39″ vertical can put a blanket around almost any receiver in the league. He wasn’t great going through drills and will need some work trying to be smoother coming in and out of his breaks, but he’s a guy worth taking a shot on.
Brock Vereen is the final player I’ll mention who had a good day, and at 5’11” 199 lbs, a 4.47 40 yard dash is solid. Add in the fact that he had 25 reps on the bench and a 34″ vertical and you have a rock solid safety. Vereen played both cornerback and safety in college but I don’t think he’s smooth enough to be a cornerback. That being said, having experience at both is a major plus. He had decent ball skills, but was a bit stiff in his movements back peddling and putting his foot in the ground. Either way, he turned some heads.
There wasn’t anyone that I thought had an inherently bad day at the Combine, but I was surprised/disappointed that Jimmie Ward didn’t participate. You have a guy like Jason Verrett who has a torn labrum and is doing every drill he can but you don’t feel like participating? I think it’s a shame when a guy takes another player’s spot and all he plans on doing is interviews and weighing in. Apparently at his Pro Day Ward posted a 38″ vertical, a 10’6″ broad jump and a 4.45 40, so why not work out at the Combine? I don’t get it.
Honorable Mention: Kendall Fuller, Bradley Roby, Jabari Price, Jaylen Watkins
Here’s an amusing video for those that made it this far:
DB 40 yard Simulcam with Clowney, because Clowney.
Defensive Back Measurables:
The Giants Defensive Backs Coach Peter Giunta gives this speech every year and it’s one of my favorite parts of the Combine.
And finally, the Rich Eisen 40-yard dash Simulcam. Hysterical.
Related: 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Recap Day 3: Defensive Line and Linebackers
Related: 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Recap Day 2: Quarterbacks, Runningbacks and Wide Receivers
Related: 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Recap Day 1: Offensive Linemen, Tight Ends, Special Teamers
[Photo via: Bleacher Report]