The safety and cornerback positions performed at the combine Tuesday, and it featured a deep class flashing their talent. While a lot of prospects fell flat and were unimpressive, this years draft class provides a lot of potential and impressive players at corner and safety.
The forty times are telling at these positions. Speed kills in the defensive back field when you have skill to go along with it. The drills provide teams a good look at what skills these players have, and the tape is telling. Many players hurt their stock and were exposed by bad footwork, lack of acceleration, and bad angles. The bad made the good prospects shine a little more.
Here are some players who had a positive day:
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert impressed in all areas. He had the fastest forty for a defensive back at 4.37 and also put up the second most bench reps, cranking out 22 reps. In drills, Gilbert was impressive, flashing good footwork and speed. He is a corner that can press and return kicks. I expect him to come off the board before Darqueze Dennard, as Gilbert does more things well.
Phillip Gaines, Rice: The biggest riser on draft boards very well could have been Gaines, who had a very good day. After posting a 4.38 forty, Gaines was as good as about anyone in the drill portion. He has easy speed with quick acceleration, I liked what I saw. His game tape leaves some to be desired, as he gets lost in coverage at times, but a team will take a chance on him for being speedy and 6'0". You can't coach good height and speed, and I think he can be coached up.
Jason Verrett, TCU: Coming into the combine I liked Verrett's film. He may be an option for the 49ers, so I was hoping he'd put up a good forty time. He did, with a 4.38. Although the TCU product is a bit undersized at 5'8, he put up a 39" vertical, which was one of the best that day. Verrett is an option at the end of round one.
Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: Fuller put up a forty time that will keep his stock going steady at 4.49, and excelled in field drills. Fuller showed good hips and was very fluid. Fuller put together the third best broad jump at 10'8".
Keith McGill, Utah: The 6'3" corner put up an impressive 4.51 forty and 39 inch vertical jump. McGill was a little stiff at times in drills and flat footed, but did show flashes of good play as well. He could become a legitimate press-corner threat if he's coached up right. As it stands now, McGill is still raw and has many things to work on, in coverage and tackling fundamentals.
Pierre Desir, Lindenwood: Desir did enough to keep the eyes of scouts on him going into his pro day and individual workouts. Desir put together the best broad jump, 11'1. The 6'1 corner has came on the scene strong since last months East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. Desir could be drafted in round three or the end of round one.
Bradley Roby, Ohio State: Roby is one of the better slot corner options available in this draft. A defender with an excellent knack at breaking up passes, Roby ran a 4.39 forty. He's a physical player with his 5'11" 194 lb frame, but will need to work on his awareness and tackling in space.
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State: Joyner is another slot corner option, who also could see time at safety in the NFL. His forty time of 4.56 is nothing special for a 5'8 prospect, but made up with his so-so time by turning heads in the drill portion. He plays bigger than his size may indicate, but I'm worried about his durability in the NFL. Although Joyner is a hard hitter with good run stopping ability, with his kind of frame I could see injuries becoming a common occurrence. I like him more as a safety prospect than a corner. He lacks ideal speed to cover the top slot receivers.
Deone Bucannon, Washington State: Bucannon put together a nice forty for a 6'1" 211 lbs for a safety, at 4.49. He faired well in the drills for a safety, as most don't perform nearly as well as corners in these combine drills. Needs to work on his footwork when back-pedaling but I like his ball skills. He needs some seasoning, but he has potential and has attributes to become a quality safety in the NFL.
Terrence Brooks, Florida State: Bucannon wasn't the only safety who flashed his wheels Brooks put up the fastest forty for a safety, running a 4.42. Brooks doesn't appear to be a starter day one, but at the very least would be a solid special teams contributor.
Who do you think performed well?