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.

YEARPICK #PLAYERCOLLEGENFLHGTWGT40 TIME
2014*Darqueze Dennard
Michigan StateTBD51071994.51
2014*Justin Gilbert Oklahoma StateTBD60012024.37
20139Dee MillinerAlabamaNYJ51172014.35
201312D.J. Hayden*HoustonOAK51111914.40
201322Desmond TrufantWashingtonATL51151904.38
201325Xavier RhodesFlorida StateMIN60142104.39
20126Morris ClaiborneLSUDAL51111884.50
201210Stephon GilmoreSouth CarolinaBUF60041904.38
201217Dre KirkpatrickAlabamaCIN60151864.50
20115Patrick PetersonLSUARI60022194.31
201119Prince AmukamaraNebraskaNYG60002064.38
201127Jimmy SmithColoradoBAL60222114.42
20107Joe HadenFloridaCLE51061934.52
201020Kareem JacksonAlabamaHOU51041964.40
201027Devin McCourtyRutgersNE51061934.38
201029Kyle Wilson*Boise StateNYJ51001944.43
201032Patrick RobinsonFlorida StateNO51121904.46
200914Malcolm JenkinsOhio StateNO60012044.51
200925Vontae DavisIllinoisMIA51112034.40
200811Leodis McKelvinTroyBUF51021904.38
200816Dominique Rodgers-CromartieTennessee StateARI60141844.29
200820Aqib TalibKansasTB60062024.44
200825Mike JenkinsSouth FloridaDAL51021974.38
200827Antoine CasonArizonaSD60021914.45
200714Darrelle Revis*PittsburghNYJ51142044.38
200718Leon HallMichiganCIN51121934.39
200720Aaron RossTexasNYG60041934.44
200615Tye HillClemsonSTL50951854.34
200616Jason AllenTennesseeMIA60072094.39
200619Antonio CromartieFlorida StateSD60212084.47
200624Johnathan JosephSouth CarolinaCIN51101934.31
200631Kelly JenningsMiami (Fla.)SEA51071784.39
20056Pacman Jones*West VirginiaTEN50941874.38
20058Antrel Rolle*Miami (Fla.)ARI60011984.48
20059Carlos RogersAuburnWAS60031964.44
200523Fabian WashingtonNebraskaOAK51041884.29
200529Marlin JacksonMichiganIND60051984.52
20048DeAngelo HallVirginia TechATL51002024.34
200410Dunta RobinsonSouth CarolinaHOU51051864.34
200425Ahmad CarrollArkansasGB50951954.34
200428Chris Gamble *Ohio StateCAR60121984.52

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