NFL Combine Day 4 Notes: CB’s and Safeties
The top corner entering the draft Trae Waynes from Michigan State had a good day to solidify his spot in the top 20 picks in the draft. Waynes came in at 6’0″ and ran a sub 4.4 forty time. He was quick in his 10 yard split and he jumped pretty well also. In the drills he looked good and he definitely helped himself with his combine performance. Also helping Waynes was the fact that none of his closest competition “blew up the Combine”. P.J. Williams, Marcus Peters and Jalen Collins all had good days, and I wouldn’t say any of them “hurt themselves”. As for where they may fall a lot will be determined by team need and their preference in corners, but I think all three reasonably should be 1st round picks.
While overall it is considered a strong cornerback draft, most of that talent is in 3rd-4th round level of talent. Some may get pushed higher due to potential or team need, but there are some question marks in this class. Quinten Rollins is considered one of the next group of corners and likely a top 50 pick, but he’s a raw talent and his athleticism did leave something to be desired in the drills. There is still upside but this combine probably pushed him down further than most given that he’s so raw to begin with. Others who were hurt by the Combine were Kevin White (the CB version), Jacoby Glenn and Ladarius Gunter. All of them struggled more than expected and may be pushed down slightly on some boards.
Two guys who are really intriguing that were listed with the corners were Josh Shaw and Eric Rowe. Both are bigger more physical corners who are also considered possible safety conversions. Given the weak group of safeties it isn’t shocking that there is a push to move some bigger corners to safety. With the drill work both Shaw and Rowe showed that they can stay at corner, but don’t be surprised if one or both end up as a safety. Overall I still would keep Shaw at corner but probably move Rowe to safety as I think that is the better position for both players.
While there were a couple of mid-to-late round corners who helped themselves like Ronald Darby, Justin Coleman, Craig Mager, and Kevin Johnson; none helped themselves as much as UConn’s Byron Jones. Jones is a raw kid, who dealt with injuries and didn’t have the greatest resume coming in, but he left opening quite a few eyes. Jones didn’t even run his 40, but even without that he had to wow scouts with this athleticism/size combo. Jones measured in at 6’1″ 199, which is a great size for a corner. His arm length and hand size were both very good as well. His 20 yard and 60 yard shuttle were great (particularly for his size) and his 3 cone drill was really good for his size. What set him apart though was his vertical and broad jump. His vertical jump was 44.5″, which is just behind the Combine record of 45″, while his Broad jump was a ridiculous 12’3″, which not only beat the previous Combine record of 11’7″ by a wide margin, but beat the World record of 12’1″. That is insane explosion and unless he runs in the 4.7’s defensive coordinators and defensive back coaches are going to want to get him on their roster. His athleticism doesn’t guarantee that he will be successful, but it gives him some considerable upside if he can get coached up.
The safety class was definitely not going to be strong coming in and that was proved pretty quickly in both the athletic and on the field drills. Outside of Landon Collins who had himself a nice day, few safeties really showed well at the Combine. That points to what has been expected for quite some time that there are some pretty low ceilings in this group. Collins is a first round talent, but barring a CB conversion guy, there might not be another safety worth taking in the top 2 rounds. After that it doesn’t get much better as there might be 1 or 2 worth of 3rd round selections.
What you are drafting from this safety group looks more like back-up or spot starting talent. A few will probably end up as good or at least solid starters, but for the most part this group is underwhelming. After Collins the next best safety looks to be Cody Prewitt, who did have a good day and is the one guy who should definitely go in the third round and due to need could crack the 2nd round. After that there are some solid guys with some upside like Jaquiski Tartt, Kurtis Drummond, Chris Hackett, and Gerod Holliman, but all of those players have some questions.