Lack Of Size, Speed Doesn’t Matter When It Comes To Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard


When the defensive backs worked out Tuesday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, it was predictable that the size and long-speed of Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard would be discussed. Dennard measured in at just under 5’11″ and according to NFL.com, he had an official 40-yard dash time of 4.51 seconds. So should these numbers be of concern?

As a means of comparison, I pulled all of the combine heights and 40 times of all the cornerbacks that were drafted in the first round dating back to 2004. In order to keep the data source consistent, I pulled these numbers from nfldraftscout.com. For the cornerbacks that did not run at the combine, I used their posted pro day time and this is denoted with an asterisk next to their name.

As you can see in the sortable table below, Dennard’s 4.51 40 time is just .01 away from tying him for the slowest in this group of players. His height also puts him near the top of the bottom third from tallest to shortest. However, Dennard has some good company in this group of players as Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden is not only a hair shorter than he is, he also was a tick slower in the 40. Haden, as you know, was drafted seventh overall by the Browns in 2010 and is currently regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the league.

These measurables are just for comparison and in no way should they be used to predict success or failure. Instead, if you like numbers that perhaps hold more weight, I suggest you read the breakdown of the top cornerbacks in the 2014 draft class done by Greg Peshek.

If long speed were a problem for Dennard, it probable would have shown when he was targeted 20 or more yards down the field and especially since he lined up an astounding 26.92% of the time in press coverage. Dennard, as you can see in Peshek’s research, only allowed 8.33% of the passes thrown 20 yards or more down to be completed. In fact, 47.06% of the throws that went Dennard’s way were deep balls.

When all else fails, just turn on Dennard’s tape, because that’s what really matters the most. When you do, you will really see just how impressive and physical he his, and why the Pittsburgh Steelers have no shot at drafting him unless they trade up.

In the case of Dennard, his lack of size and speed doesn’t matter one bit and he should be a good one.

YEAR PICK # PLAYER COLLEGE NFL HGT WGT 40 TIME
2014 * Darqueze Dennard
Michigan State TBD 5107 199 4.51
2014 * Justin Gilbert Oklahoma State TBD 6001 202 4.37
2013 9 Dee Milliner Alabama NYJ 5117 201 4.35
2013 12 D.J. Hayden* Houston OAK 5111 191 4.40
2013 22 Desmond Trufant Washington ATL 5115 190 4.38
2013 25 Xavier Rhodes Florida State MIN 6014 210 4.39
2012 6 Morris Claiborne LSU DAL 5111 188 4.50
2012 10 Stephon Gilmore South Carolina BUF 6004 190 4.38
2012 17 Dre Kirkpatrick Alabama CIN 6015 186 4.50
2011 5 Patrick Peterson LSU ARI 6002 219 4.31
2011 19 Prince Amukamara Nebraska NYG 6000 206 4.38
2011 27 Jimmy Smith Colorado BAL 6022 211 4.42
2010 7 Joe Haden Florida CLE 5106 193 4.52
2010 20 Kareem Jackson Alabama HOU 5104 196 4.40
2010 27 Devin McCourty Rutgers NE 5106 193 4.38
2010 29 Kyle Wilson* Boise State NYJ 5100 194 4.43
2010 32 Patrick Robinson Florida State NO 5112 190 4.46
2009 14 Malcolm Jenkins Ohio State NO 6001 204 4.51
2009 25 Vontae Davis Illinois MIA 5111 203 4.40
2008 11 Leodis McKelvin Troy BUF 5102 190 4.38
2008 16 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Tennessee State ARI 6014 184 4.29
2008 20 Aqib Talib Kansas TB 6006 202 4.44
2008 25 Mike Jenkins South Florida DAL 5102 197 4.38
2008 27 Antoine Cason Arizona SD 6002 191 4.45
2007 14 Darrelle Revis* Pittsburgh NYJ 5114 204 4.38
2007 18 Leon Hall Michigan CIN 5112 193 4.39
2007 20 Aaron Ross Texas NYG 6004 193 4.44
2006 15 Tye Hill Clemson STL 5095 185 4.34
2006 16 Jason Allen Tennessee MIA 6007 209 4.39
2006 19 Antonio Cromartie Florida State SD 6021 208 4.47
2006 24 Johnathan Joseph South Carolina CIN 5110 193 4.31
2006 31 Kelly Jennings Miami (Fla.) SEA 5107 178 4.39
2005 6 Pacman Jones* West Virginia TEN 5094 187 4.38
2005 8 Antrel Rolle* Miami (Fla.) ARI 6001 198 4.48
2005 9 Carlos Rogers Auburn WAS 6003 196 4.44
2005 23 Fabian Washington Nebraska OAK 5104 188 4.29
2005 29 Marlin Jackson Michigan IND 6005 198 4.52
2004 8 DeAngelo Hall Virginia Tech ATL 5100 202 4.34
2004 10 Dunta Robinson South Carolina HOU 5105 186 4.34
2004 25 Ahmad Carroll Arkansas GB 5095 195 4.34
2004 28 Chris Gamble * Ohio State CAR 6012 198 4.52

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • RW

    Yet another reason why I love the combine. Guys who are studs on tape consistently fall if they’re not running well without pads. Only benefits teams like the Steelers, who (tend to) find gems at the back end of drafts.

  • j m

    Add Dennard to the list of players “experts” tell us Steelers have no chance at. That list now exceeds 18 players, I believe.

  • Richie

    I think they pass on him overrated

  • j m

    Gilbert made Dennard look slow and stiff. Agree.

  • Iron Cadet

    Who is saying that? I think most mock drafts have dennard falling past 15

  • j m

    The author of the column about 12 inches above the comment you just wrote.

  • dkoy85

    So who do you like?

  • Steelers12328882

    lol did you even read the article?

  • Richie

    Hageman or Benjamin

  • j m

    Here is what confuses me: last year, we would have been delighted if a top OT fell to us at 15. This year, it’s like “no way do we waste a #15 pick on O-line.”
    What happened over the last year to make us think our O-line now is so dominant that it couldn’t benefit from a stud OT?

  • Steelers12328882

    Wow! Strong prediction saying we have no shot at him where we sit. I would think it’s 50/50 right now that either Gilbert or Dennard falls to 15. Personally, I like Gilbert, so I hope you’re right. Dennard seemed too stiff in the hips at the combine. Gilbert would be a nice option as a KR too.

  • Richie

    They might think they have a couple, but I have doubts too

  • Steelers12328882

    I completely understand that. If the O-line falls apart just like it did last year, and we pass on one of these OT’s in the first round, we’ll certainly look stupid.

  • j m

    I agree. People are now saying neither Mike Evans nor Gilbert will be available at 15. I think there is a decent chance one of them will be there.

  • Richie

    Ravens will jump on either one or Ebron if available

  • steelster

    the steelers draft strategy will all depend on what they do with worilds, taylor and Woodley. If worilds isn’t resigned and Woodley is released which looks like might happen then you can forget about a wr with the 1st 2 picks.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    If he is there for us i’d love for us to take him, i know he didn’t play zone much, but how well was he when he did play zone?

  • steelster

    they could benefit from a stud o lineman, but our defense sucks and has a lot of needs.

  • RyanW

    Because Beachum filled in really well at LT and it’s only fair to give him the starting iob for at least one more season plus who knows what Munchak can do with Gilbert and Adams as well.

  • RyanW

    Ill be more than happy if we get either Gilbert or Dennard. Cant complain about either one.

  • j m

    You’re more optimistic about Beachum, Adams and Gilbert than I.
    I still think that if one of the top three OTs falls, and Evans, Mosley, and Gilbert are gone — then grab the OT.

  • Jason White

    There really is no way to know who is gonna be available at 15. You can’t predict trades and until we see what goes on with resigning our own players as well as any possible free agent signings they make. You can guarantee one thing, someone will fall to the Steelers. Drafting at 15 you are gonna certainly find someone good. Teams love to reach for quarterbacks and offensive tackles are a hot commodity.

  • Iron Cadet

    i meant what “experts”. you said to add him to the list of players that experts tell us that the steelers have no shot at. and i think almost every “expert” has said the opposite of that.

  • Iron Cadet

    seriously? why on earth?

  • steelster

    exactly, no thanks on Hageman or Benjamin.

  • RyanW

    Id prefer defense or WR with first pick only OT worth taking in round 1 will be gone before us easily. We have bigger needs on defense than the oline by a mile right now.

  • Rob

    I was just thinking that myself. During the combine, I swear mayock said “he is a guaranteed top 10 pick” 25 different times

  • shawn

    I have to agree … i think he will most likely be there !

  • shawn

    agreeeeed

  • shawn

    very stiff … haden by comparison is a much better athlete and has nowhere near that stiffness

  • shawn

    you have a point …. i totally wanted an OT before .. but i guess thats what happens when u whiff a couple times … it leaves a bad taste in your mouth lol

  • shawn

    yes i think thats exactly what they are thinking and i do think its reasonable … but if our OL sucks again … watch out … I’m hoping those last several games were not just a fluke !

  • shawn

    somebody good will obviously fall … I’m in the camp that gilbert will prob not be there, but most likely Dennard will !

  • joed32

    Now there’s a guy who won’t be there at 15.

  • dkoy85

    It’s more I think we’re giving Munchak a chance to come in and try and prove our early o-line picks weren’t wasted. If they don’t show big improvement then it is the lack of player talent not the lack of coaching. They have to start adding play makers on D or O after the past drafts of adding offensive lineman. It’s not the lack of offense it’s the lack of play makers!

  • dkoy85

    Good players to trade back for, no value at our 15th pick. Dennard will be a borderline steal at #15. I’d rather them trade back and pick up Fuller but would be happy if they picked up Dennard. Don’t judge him by his combine numbers- watch the tape.

  • j m

    You’re probably right, but I hope he or Evans is there at 15. I think Nix would be okay, but it would seem like a bit of a letdown.

  • joed32

    You never know, we can hope.

  • http://batman-news.com Gizzy

    Gilbert, Dennard or the alabama safety… in that order

  • Milliken Steeler

    If there at three QB’s at least chosen in the top 15 and I think there will be as some idiot will choose Manziel as a top tier QB, then I think we have a shot at a nice CB,S or even an OLB or ILB here.

    There are so many good WR’s available I wouldnt grab one at 15 as Watkins will be gone by then.

    Guys like 6’3″ 220lb Jeff Janis will probably be available as late as the fourth round and this kid has over 3000 yards receiving, over 30 td’s and 200 catches his junior and senior seasons. He ran a 4.4 40. The kid can play and we need defense badly especially at CB,S and OLB,ILB.

  • harding36

    I’m not sold on Dennard at 15. I’m worried about whether he can he play in the zone schemes we run. Lebeau and Tomlin aren’t going to let him play press man as much as he did at MSU. If he’s strictly a bump and run corner, that doesn’t fit what we do.

    I’d take both Clinton-Dix and Pryor before Dennard. In my opinion, it’s really not that close. I think Gilbert would be a perfect fit too. I’d rank those guys: (1) Gilbert, (2) Dix, (3) Pryor, (4) Dennard. Just my opinion.

  • j m

    What’s the take on ‘Bama ILB CJ Mosely? A few weeks ago, there seemed to be much enthusiasm for him, but that seems to have died down a bit.
    I prefer Gilbert, then Mike Evans, then Mosely, then Nix. (Asssuming Sammy Wtakins is long gone, of course.)

  • Iron Cadet

    Agreed. And prime and mayock both said that whoever drafts him is going to have him play basically only man to man. Because he is too stiff in the hips. We run so much off man coverage that I don’t think he would fit

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