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||*||Justin Gilbert||Oklahoma State||TBD||6001||202||4.37|
|2013||25||Xavier Rhodes||Florida State||MIN||6014||210||4.39|
|2012||10||Stephon Gilmore||South Carolina||BUF||6004||190||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|
|2008||16||Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||Tennessee State||ARI||6014||184||4.29|
|2008||25||Mike Jenkins||South Florida||DAL||5102||197||4.38|
|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|
|2004||8||DeAngelo Hall||Virginia Tech||ATL||5100||202||4.34|
|2004||10||Dunta Robinson||South Carolina||HOU||5105||186||4.34|
|2004||28||Chris Gamble *||Ohio State||CAR||6012||198||4.52|