2014 NFL Scouting Combine – Tuesday Notes On Cornerbacks, Safeties

By Alex Kozora

Notes from the final day of workouts at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis as the cornerbacks and safeties closed things out. Nothing too in-depth. Just some musings. Bear in mind that tape, the interview process, and medicals, are all far more important than the events themselves. Maintaining perspective when watching the combine is critical.

Final Day of the Combine Notes. Hopefully, a wrap up of Winners/Losers will come in the next few days.

Defensive Backs

The Weigh In

– Despite being 6’0, Duke corner Ross Cockrell doesn’t have much length (29 7/8 arms) or big hands (9 inches).

HaHa Clinton-Dix with the length I expected to see from him. 32 3/8 arms.

– Best part of Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon’s trip to Indy was the weigh in. 6’0 212 with 32 1/4 arms and 9 7/8 hands. The drills weren’t as kind to him.

– Lindenwood Pierre Desir with a Cortez Allen-esque build. Even bigger, actually. Extremely long, lean look. 6’1 198 with 33 inch arms. Allen weighed in at 6’1 197 and 32 1/4 arms. Small schools for each. Lots of parallels.

– Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard is billed as a press corner. Just wish he had longer arms. Stumps at 30 1/4 inches.

Stanley Jean-Baptise will endlessly receive Richard Sherman comparisons from now until draft day. Both with elite size, Jean-Baptise at 6’2 1/2 218. Like Sherman, Baptise began his Nebraska career at wide receiver.

Lamarcus Joyner a tiny thing at 5’8 184.

– Utah’s Keith McGill an even bigger prospect than Jean-Baptise. 6’3 211 and possessing 33 inch arms and 10 1/4 hands.

Kendall James out of Maine ran a fast 40 but he profiles as a nickel back. Uber-tiny at 5’10 1/2 180 with 29 1/2 arms and 8 inch hands.

– As I predicted in my scouting report of his, Calvin Pryor came in shorter than listed, but I didn’t expect him to be three inches shorter. Listed at 6’2, measured in at 5’11. That’s Stephen Burton territory.

The Events

– Based on the pure numbers alone, San Jose State’s Bene’ Benwikere profiles as more of a zone corner. Pedestrian 40 times running a 4.63 but a 40.5 vert and 10’2” in the broad. Also posted a 6.94 in the three cone. Shows lower body strength that will be important when closing in zone coverage when he clicks and closes.

– For being 6’1, Washington safety Deone Bucannon had a heck of a day. 4.49 in the 40 with a 36.5 inch vertical and 10’5” leap in the broad jump.

– Baylor’s Dixon had a poor showing. Even for a safety, a 4.64 is just average. Low numbers in the other events, too. 32 inch vert was tied for the lowest and his 9’2” in the broad was the worst number by the defensive backs. By comparison, four offensive lineman eclipsed that mark.

– Love Justin Gilbert’s build. Over 33 inch arms on a 202 pound frame. Turned in a 4.38 40.

– South Carolina’s Victor Hampton has very quick feet but didn’t show long speed in his 40. Timed at 4.69. Did better in the drills.

–  Jean-Baptise clearly has the size and showed his athleticism, too. 41.5 inch vertical led the group.

– McGill with solid triangle numbers. In addition to his 6’3 frame, turned in a more than respectable 4.51 40 and impressive 39 inch vertical.

– BYU safety Daniel Sorenson didn’t impress in the traditional events (4.67 40, 32 vert) but was the only defensive back to run a sub-4 in the 20 yard shuttle. 3.95.

– Georgia Southern corner Lavelle Westbrooks actually had a better official time than his unofficals but still not good enough. 4.63 for the 184 pound cornerback.

The Drills

– As I’ve been alluding too, rough day for Ahmad Dixon. Looked stiff and slow out of his turns. Had to repeat the weave drill three times after failing to listen to instruction. Slow in his backpedal. Heavy feet. Definitely a safety.

– As the 40 times indicate, Rice’s Phillip Gaines is very explosive. Low in his stance, too.

Marqueston Huff looked like a safety. Wasted motion when asked to open his hips, plant, and explode. Also too tall.

– Notre Dame’s Bennett Jackson was slow when asked to click and close. Stiff hips. Likely will have to convert from corner to safety.

– As pointed out by the broadcast, Kyle Fuller is tall in his backpedal. But fluid with good feet. So not a major issue.

– Hampton is tiny in statue but some of the quickest feet and turn of the group.

Senior in college, blogging from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks for the observations and comments, Alex. While I didn’t get to watch too much of the combine, I think it is safe to say that there are a lot of possibilities here for the Steelers for both CB and S. I was just wondering if any of these guys also are kick or punt returners, as well. That would certainly be a bonus. I know Justin Gilbert does, but with how well he did at the combine, I’m not sure he’s even going to be available at 15 in the first round for the Steelers.

  • steeltown

    Gilbert, Bucannon, Pryor, Clinton Dix, Brooks, Fuller, Jean-Baptise, Desir…. I’d take any of these guys

  • Brendon Glad

    Philip Gaines was extremely impressive in all tests and field drills looked very fluid. With production (5 ints). I’d love him later. Cockrell showed some things. Of the more touted guys, Gilbert looked very good. Those are 3 names that kept catching my eye. But Gaines is the big one on my wish list because it appears he can be had decently late.

  • James Kling

    I still want to comb through the combine tape but I’m disappointed with Dennard. Mostly liking the guys Steeltown has listed, but I don’t see a ton of separation between the guys in the convo at 1.15 and the guys at R2. E.g., is Gilbert at 15 that much better a value than, say, Desir in R2 (doubt he makes it to our R3 comp)? Or SJB in R2/3?

    Compare to the top OTs (Robinson, Matthews, Lewan, and even Zach Martin): after these guys the talent clearly separates. You can still find guys who can play, but the differential is more marked.
    I’ll say the same thing about the S class: better value in R2-4 than R1.
    That leads me to either an offensive playmaker (WR/TE) or one of the top OTs if they’re on the board.

  • pat

    I really believe we have no choice but to trade back in the draft being how 2nd and 3rd round heavy the draft is and not having a 3rd. Not sure how teams trade picks but if we can trade down and get an extra 2nd and a 3rd im happy cant wait to see more mock drafts

  • srdan

    I don’t see OT being a first round option. I think Muchak was brought in to fix the high picks. Tomlin wasn’t happy with their progression, and saw an opportunity to bring in a proven teacher. This makes me believe that htey see the talent and believe tha the rest can be taught

    Keep in mind that Adams has not had an off season of training since he joined the Steelers.

  • pat

    I agree with you and honestly I dont see us drafting any oline in this draft we got great depth this yr Velasco Wallace Adams

  • James Kling

    I see your point, but the talent among the top 3 OT is far better than anything we have. If you can upgrade that much, it’s better than hoping you can coach up lesser talent. I’m not throwing away Adams or Gilbert yet, I’m just looking at positional value and ROI at each round.

  • srdan

    And I think the steelers would usually agree iwth you because what you are suggesting is taking the best player available in its purest form.

  • steeltown

    True.. Gaines is a nice late Rd prospect, he is said to lack sound tackling and is not good against the run, but that’s why he is a late Rd guy IMO has some upside

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. best player available in Rd1 whoever falls.. with an eye toward a DB in Rd2 is the likely course of action

  • dgh57

    If you add Keith McGill name to that list then I would take any combination of any 2 of those names!

  • Brendon Glad

    Yeah, it was cool that he was right in pair with Gilbert back-to-back. Since I don’t watch NCAAF much at all, but do watch NFL football a ton, often it makes me handicapped…but on the flip-side it adds a purity of mind. As in, if my sound was off and the captions weren’t up, I would have guessed that Gaines was higher on the board than the kid from msu who won the Thorpe award. Time will tell which is the case for me regarding Gaines. I’d take him sooner rather than later. I’d treat him exactly like when we disappointed the scouting world with Ike Taylor 4th round. “worst draft pick ever” (was said in one notable draft review of Steelers picks that year). 4th round Gaines would make me very happy. I loved Gilbert too, but my gut says he’s gone b4 the Steelers make a pick.

  • steeltown

    Yea.. 4.37 40time.. Gilbert is gone

  • Brendon Glad

    Any thoughts on the draft for Safeties (Steeler-wise)? I didn’t see enough of Shamarko to garner an opinion on my preferred spot for him. Safety confuses me in the NFL. One would think that the FS is the ball-hawk with great range and the SS is the run stuffer and TE cover guy. But Pitt won 2 SB’s with it flipped, and at times Ed Reed was listed at SS as well. (at least when Will Demps was there because it shocked me when I saw him listed as a SS). So I am pretty weak trying to figure out what I want at Safety unless it’s obvious. But if there’s a young version of Ed Reed or a current version of Earl Thomas, I know I’d like that.

  • Brendon Glad

    “somewhat” flipped. my bad. Flipped on the ballhawk part was more what I meant.

  • Brendon Glad

    The difference between the quality of Colbert’s first round picks versus the quality of his 2nd and 3rd round picks has to be near the largest difference of any Gm in the league. He nails first rounders almost without fail. And he completely flops on 2nd and 3rd rounders quite a bit And we should get a 3rd for Wallace anyway. So I respectfully disagree. Stick with the sweet-spot.

  • steeltown

    Calvin Pryor reminds me of Earl Thomas

  • Brendon Glad

    To elaborate, since 2005 mcFadden, Essex, Anthony Smith, W. Reid, Woodley, Spaeth, Sweed, Bruce Davis, Urbik, Wallace, Lewis, Worilds, Sanders, Gilbert, Brown, Adams, Spence, Bell, and Wheaton have been his 2nd and 3rd round selections. 2 Pro-bowls combined. Woodley 1, Wallace 1. most never even cracked the starting lineup and stuck. It’s quite odd, actually. Because it seems like I’m dissing Colbert. Nope. Because if you skip the 2nd-3rd rounds and include undrafted FA’s…then it gets great again. And his first rounders are well documented. Just weird. And the reason why Colbert should never trade out of the first round. He probably should always package his 2nd and 3rd rounders to try to get INTO the late first round…or get extra 5th-7th rounders….very odd…but 14 years qualifies as a good sample size.

  • GoSteelerz

    Brock Vereen from Minnesota had good combine numbers for a safety, though I’ve had trouble finding much film of him… He may end up being a later round steal for someone… Hopefully us!

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I like Dion Bailey from USC. He didn’t have a great 40 yesterday, so he might fall to round 3. Deone Buchanon from Washington State had a great combine. He’s a nice big hitter. I don’t really want another small safety to go with Shamarko. Terrance Brooks from Florida State was mentioned earlier in another article. Also, Ed Reynolds from Stanford could go in the 3rd round. They do have choices. These guys will have this year to be backups and can learn so they’ll be ready for next year.

  • WIINGY

    top three will be gone at 15. If lewan somehow falls to us we could rob Miami blind.

  • WIINGY

    he reminds me of Troy a lot but is a harder hitter. Pryor’s height, weight and 40 are very similar to Ed Reed.

  • WIINGY

    FS play more deep and SS more in the box. Unless you play cover 2, then they are both deep. Shamarko can play both positions from what I hear.

  • shawn

    Did you watch McGill ?? They really did a disservice to this guy … he belongs nowhere near a CB position … horrendous