The fourth and final day is probably the most exciting to watch on television.  Maybe not exciting, but it is where the best athletes are and the fastest 40 times usually happen. The defensive backs can really help or hurt their draft stock because it gives a chance for scouts to see them one on one. Many a defensive back has flashed elite speed and athleticism at the Combine and helped raise their stock. This year is no different. The 2013 class is loaded with talent and besides the defensive line group may be the most talented top to bottom in the whole draft.

Below are some notes and thoughts on some of the performances on Day 4 of the Combine:

Defensive Backs

– There is plenty to talk about in this group so I will do a winners and losers column for the defensive backs.

Winners

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU– The 5’9 186 pound ball hawk needed to come out and show that he has kept himself in shape after being out of football for an entire season. While Mathieu didn’t blow anyone away in the weight room, he did run a 4.5 40 yard dash and was excellent in his field drills. His character issues are many, as he has multiple incidents with marijuana and was kicked off the team at LSU last year. But there is no denying his talent and he will aren’t a later round pick by some team willing to overlook his transgressions.

David Amerson, NC State– Amerson is coming off a year where his stats and production were down and he needed a solid Combine in order to get back the momentum of his stellar junior year. He stands 6’2 and weighs 205 pounds. Amerson has unbelievable physical tools and showed that with a 4.44 40 yard dash and 15 reps on the bench. He isn’t the most explosive athlete, but fits into a cover 2 scheme well with his size and quickness.

Dee Milliner, Alabama- All Milliner did was come out and run one of the fastest 40 times of any DB at 4.37 seconds and firmly secure himself as the top defensive back in the draft. Milliner possesses good size at 6′ 200 pounds and has good coverage skills and long speed. Milliner will be a top 6 pick in the draft.

Washington's Desmond Trufant

Washington’s Desmond Trufant

Desmond Trufant, Washington- The definition of SWAG, Trufant plays with emotion that is unmatched by any player. He had a great Senior Bowl week and capitalized at the Combine. He ran a 4.38 40 yard dash an showed great foot work in his on field drills. Trufant has the lineage as two of his brothers’ play in the league as well. He has great size at 6′ 190 pounds and plays really aggressive. I think with some other players that fell out of favor with scouts during the day, Trufant moved himself up and is currently the number two corner on my board.

Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse- More than likely the best example of speed and strength at the Combine this year, Thomas is a physical specimen. He only stands 5’9 but he weighs 215 pounds and runs a 4.42 40. Ad 28 reps on the bend and exceptional vertical and broad jump numbers and you have one of the best safety prospects to come out of the Combine. The knock on him is his height and lateral quickness and he needs to show in his pro day that he can do well in field drills. Look for him to move up draft boards.

Darius Slay, Mississippi State– When you run the fastest 40 time at 4.36 seconds you are going to turn some heads. Now scouts and GMs will have to go back to his film and see if Slay can translate that speed to the field. Slay has good size at 6’1 190 pounds, but he is a little on the skinny side. The fast times are everything but Slay proved his point. That makes him a winner. His film shows an aggressive player that doesn’t have the best foot quickness.

Robert Alford, SE Louisiana- Small school guys really showed out at the Combine, but Alford might have capitalized the most. He ran a 4.39 40 yard dash and had more reps at the bench, 17, than I would have thought. He is not the biggest corner in the draft at 5’10 188 pounds, but he plays with good aggression and has good punch when jamming at the line. Alford has great return skills and played great at the Senior Bowl. With this effort and his film and all star games, I have Alford firmly graded in the second round.

Losers

Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State- No player hurt his stock more than Banks in my opinion. It is harsh but true. So many corner prospects ran in the 4.4 range in the 40 yard dash. But Banks ran a 4.61 and looked very non explosive in his jumps and field drills. It may not crush his draft stock, but he took a hit.  Scouts will now go back to the film and see how many times his speed factored in to getting beat. The good thing Banks has going for him is that he is 6’2 and 185 pounds and could move to safety. He also has a Pro Day left to make this situation better. He once was the second corner in a lot of minds, but he is sliding out of some peoples top five now.

Zeke Motta, Notre Dame

Zeke Motta, Notre Dame

Zeke Motta, Notre Dame- I knew Motta wasn’t going to be fast because watching him on film he is not asked to do much man coverage. But I did not expect to see a 4.83 out of him in the 40 and I definitely expected more than 11 reps on the bench press. Motta has limited athletic ability but is a grinder on the field. He has good quickness but he hurt himself with this Combine performance. Needs a better Pro Day or he could fall out of the middle rounds into 7th round, free agent territory.

Marc Anthony, California- One of the best corners at the Senior Bowl, Anthony did not capitalize on this Combine performance. He turned in a 4.63 second 40 yard dash and showed very average vertical and broad jump numbers. Anthony has a chance to be a good player, but his long speed is now in question. While Anthony ran a slow time, he does show very good man to man foot skills in coverage.

Aaron Hester, UCLA- Combine results: 4.62 40 yard dash, 29 inch vertical, 9’3 inch broad jump, 7.26 cone drills. These are numbers that would be average for a tight end, not what is needed at corner back. It is one thing to lack long speed like what is timed in the 40 yard dash. It is another problem to have a lack of athletic burst and explosion in all the other drills. Hester will struggle with his lack of physical skills in the NFL. Has a long road ahead to make it.

Superlatives

Fastest 40- Darius Slay, Mississippi State- 4.36 seconds

Slowest 40- Zeke Motta, Notre Dame- 4.83 seconds

Most Bench Reps- Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse- 28 reps

Least Bench Reps- 2 tied at 4 reps

Highest Vert- 5 tied at 40.5 inches

Lowest Vert- Aaron Hester, UCLA-29.0 inches

Funniest moment of the Combine you ask… that was undoubtedly Shamarko Thomas face planting at the end of his 40… here is a picture of it…

thomasfall

 

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