The final day of the 2018 NFL Combine is finally upon us seeing the defensive backs take the field for on field testing and position drills. With a talented and deep cornerback class the Combine could be a place for these prospects to separate themselves from each other. The Day 6 NFL Combine News and Notes takes a look at who stood out.
Day 6 NFL Combine News and Notes
Defensive Back Speed
Before Monday there had been only four prospects that ran a 40 yard dash in the 4.3’s but on Monday we saw a total of eight defensive backs run sub 4.40 times showcasing the speed at the position. While for most positions the 40 yard dash doesn’t mean a whole lot, at cornerback you want your corners to be as fast at the receivers so they don’t get burned. Guys like Denzel Ward, Donte Jackson and Tony Brown were expected to be fast but this is helpful for a guy like Perry Nickerson who has been getting some buzz while Penn State’s Apke and Pittsburgh’s Avonte Maddox times will force evaluators to go back to the tape.
Year in and year out players use the Combine to set themselves apart from the competition. Alexander had a bit of a down year but ran an impressive 4.38 40 yard dash showing that he has the speed to run with receivers deep while also showing that he can play off or zone coverage from his game tape. At 5’11 192lbs Alexander isn’t the biggest of cornerbacks, so having this speed along with his psychical nature likely solidifies his standing in the first round.
Going in the Combine James was one of the prospects that was picked to blow up in the testing and that is exactly what he did running a 4.47 40 yard dash and jumping 40″ in the vertical leap. At 6’3 215lbs James continues to check the boxes with his athleticism. James wasn’t done in just the timed measurements as he looked fluid and explosive on the field. As long as teams feel comfortable that he’s recovered from a knee injury two years ago then it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him rise back into the top 10 discussion.
One player that I was really keep an eye on with his 40 yard dash time was Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver who stood out on film with fluid hips and good ball skills. Oliver measured in at 6’2 and had an impressive 80 5/8″ wingspan and if he ran an impressive 40 time I could see him shooting up to the draft boards into possibly the top 10. Instead Oliver ran a 4.50 which isn’t bad, but not ideal.. Luckily Oliver’s length can make up for not having a blistering time he showed on the field drills that he is a fluid mover and plays faster than he runs the 40.
My top ranked true cornerback heading into the Combine is Ward who was fluid and quick cornerback on tape and at the Combine continued his assent. A 4.32 40 yard dash showing off his speed while his 39″ vertical leap and 11’4″ broad jump showcased his explosiveness that we saw on tape. Sure he is only 5’10 but he had a 74 3/4″ wingspan and that vertical leap which can make up for some of his height issues and we saw that on tape with his ability to get his hands in there. He came in as my number one cornerback and that doesn’t change after this weekend.
One player that is firmly in the first round and getting some attention as one of the best cornerbacks is and he struggled in the position drills. Jackson is a one year starter a ball hawk but after his performance there are some concerns if he may have to move to safety. In the drills Jackson played too high, struggled transitioning from backpedal to running and was even told to stop a couple of times during drills to redo them. The best thing that Jackson did was when the ball was in the air to go up and get it. With a 4.56 he could he be best served as a free safety sitting back and reacting to the ball in the air?