The likelihood that the San Francisco 49ers draft a defensive back in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft is likely. The cornerback position could stand to add some competition, and the position has question marks after the 2020 season. At safety, Jimmie Ward is an unrestricted free agent. If Ward walks in free agency, that creates another hole on the roster. Sunday was the final day of the NFL Scouting Combine, where the defensive backs worked out. Let’s talk about some players who helped and hurt themselves on Sunday. For this group, there is more at stake than any other position when it comes to athletic testing.
C.J. Henderson, Florida
Henderson likely cemented himself as the second cornerback coming off the board come draft time. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and was the smoothest cornerback during the on-field drills. The 49ers will likely be out of play for Henderson, who Daniel Jeremiah said is going top-15 during the broadcast. Henderson’s biggest downfall is his tackling, as you’ll see a lot of that mentioned when reading scouting reports on him. As far as a football player, he’s good in coverage, but I don’t think he plays like a first-rounder. Honestly, I’m not too upset if the 49ers “miss out” on Henderson.
Small school safeties
Kyle Dugger/Jeremy Chinn
Unless you are a draft junkie, you’re not watching Southern Illinois or Lenoir Rhyne. Dugger, from Lenoir-Rhyne, came in at 217 pounds and jumped 42” in the vertical, 11’2” in the broad jump, and ran a 4.50 40-time. Dugger has been building a case for himself since the Senior Bowl. At the combine, Kimberly Jones said during the broadcast that Dugger was even more impressive during the interview portions.
The Saluki’s safety, Chinn, was equally as big and fast in Indy. He came in at 219 pounds, jumped 11’6” in the broad jump, and 41” in the vertical while running 4.46 40-yard dash. Chinn is another player that rose from the Senior Bowl and cemented himself as a Day 2 player Sunday. My takeaway from watching Sunday was that the Niners should trade back and stockpile picks during the second day of the draft because that’s where the bulk of the talent is.
CB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
I thought Dantzler was the second-best cornerback in the draft coming into Sunday. Historically, the cutoff for a solid to decent cornerback’s 40 time is 4.64, which is the time Dantzler ran. He better clean that up at his pro day, or Dantzler can say goodbye to being drafted before the fourth round. Dantzler didn’t participate in any of the shuttle drills, and his vertical of 34.5 was below average as well. There wasn’t any extra gear during the workouts, and that was concerning. Dantzler is 6”2’, but even his wingspan arm length was short for his height. He looked good in drills, but at 188 pounds, 4.64 is going to be the number that sticks in the decision makers’ memory.
CB Damon Arnette
Arnette had an uphill climb coming into the combine with “character concerns,” reportedly:
“Arnette made the wise decision to return for his senior season, playing like a player worthy of first-round consideration. While he has shown growth both on and off the field, NFL teams still have “major” questions about his emotional maturity and off-field decision-making that he must address during interviews.” - Dane Brugler, The Athletic
Arnette measured at 5’11, 195 pounds, but he, too, had shorter arms than you’d like for a cornerback (30”), and many believed the Ohio State cornerback would run fast, but Arnette clocked at a 4.54 40-yard dash. When you come into the draft with character, size, and long speed concerns, you have to change that. Arnette didn’t do himself any favors.
Geno Stone, Iowa
Stone came in with some love from the draft community as an under the radar talent. After his combine, Stone will remain under the radar. I keep bringing up arm length and wingspan because length is what the NFL likes on defense. Players that can make plays on the ball and get into throwing lanes to disrupt passes. Stone came in at 5”10’, with 29 1/4 arms. Stone benched 225 pounds 12 times, ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, and had a 33.5 inch vertical and a 9”8’ broad jump.
Stone didn’t participate in either of the shuttle drills, but his transition issues in drills exposed Stone’s lack of fluidity. He’ll be available on Day 3. If anyone stood out to you that you think San Francisco should be interested in, let us know in the comments.
Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
Antoine Winfield Jr. Winfield Jr. was arguably the biggest winner of the day. It’s no surprise he has great instincts and was great in interviews considering his name and who his dad was, but Winfield performed about as well as anyone at the combine on Sunday. The 5’9”, 203-pound safety/nickel cornerback ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and jumped 36” with a 10’3” broad jump. During the drills, Winfield Jr. made it look easy and effortless. Winfield proved he’s worthy of a top-50 pick Sunday.