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Draft Risers And Sliders: CB And S

Posted Feb 25, 2014

The final day of the 2014 NFL Combine got underway Tuesday morning and the workouts will generate plenty of movement on draft boards. The top spot at the cornerback position was at stake and the safety position had to be sorted. Here are the risers and sliders from the secondary as the Combine closes out ...

STOCK ARROW POINTING UP

1. CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State:  When the morning started Gilbert was battling Darqueze Dennard for the top spot at the cornerback position. At the conclusion of the day Gilbert, holds a firm grasp of the top spot. In a nutshell, his workout was awesome from start to finish. Gilbert was the fastest defensive back of the day, timing below 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was exceptional in position drills displaying a quick backpedal, the ability to flip his hips then easily transition to every angle of the field. Gilbert practiced with speed, balance and showed great athleticism. He could move into the draft’s initial 12 selections.

2. CB Phillip Gaines, Rice: Expectation is a word that’s been mentioned often in analyzing performances at the Combine and Gaines exceeded them Tuesday. Stamped as a slow bump-and-run cover corner, he blazed to a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash then displayed terrific skill in position drills. Gaines was smooth transitioning from his backpedal and showed an explosive burst moving in every direction. At the end of the day, Gaines improved his draft stock and made a lot of money for himself.

3. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: Fuller’s name is rarely mentioned in the conversation for the top cornerbacks available in the draft, yet all he does is impress scouts. He continued that trend Tuesday with a terrific athletic performance (4.43 in the 40-yard dash, 38.5-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-8 broad jump) then a great position workout. Fuller looked so natural and smooth on the field it almost seemed effortless. His ball skills, athleticism and eye for the ball make him a potential No. 1 cornerback at the next level.

4. CB Jason Verrett, TCU: In the game of inches Verrett, comes up a bit short (slightly under 5-foot-9) but offers big league skill. The argument could be made Verrett was the most complete defensive back on the field Tuesday. His testing numbers were terrific (4.39 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical jump) as were his position drills.  Verrett was quick and smooth moving in every direction, both forwards as well as backwards. He has first-round skill but a third-round frame. 

5. CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State: The junior cornerback entered the draft despite a terrible 2013 campaign and had a lot of ground to make up. To his credit, Roby righted the ship. He clocked under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash then played to that speed throughout position drills. Roby was fast in a straight line as well as laterally and displayed quick feet and smooth hip rotation. It’s a step in the right direction for Roby.

6. CB/S Brock Vereen, Minnesota: Vereen, who lined up at cornerback and safety in college, quietly had one of the better workouts Tuesday. His testing numbers, which were better than expected, included 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 25 reps on the bench. Vereen may not have been as quick or explosive as the headliners, but he looked smooth in every drill and was constantly applauded by coaches. 

7. CB/S Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State: Johnson is another versatile defender who can line up at several positions in the secondary. He also leaves the Combine after having improved his draft stock. His 40-yard dash time in the mid 4.4 second range, vertical jump of 38.5 inches and broad jump which measured 10-foot-4 were all solid marks. Johnson was solid in position drills as he displayed quick footwork in reverse as well as the ability to explode to the action straight ahead and laterally.

8. CB/S Jaylen Watkins, Florida: Still another defensive back who can line up at safety and cornerback, Watkins surprised scouts with his testing numbers. His 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds was a full tenth of a second faster than scouts believed possible. Proving he’s not just a fleet-footed athlete, Watkins' 22 reps on the bench marked the top number of the day.

DRAFT STOCK SLIDING

1. CB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida: Perhaps no defensive back saw his draft stock drop more than Purifoy. Weighing 190 pounds, he was unable to run fast than 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash while his vertical jump of 35.5 inches and broad mark of 10-feet were nothing special. The 40-yard dash time is unacceptable for a player expected to excel as a return specialist at the next level. During position drills, Purifoy looked slow and his ball skills graded average at best.

2. S Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt: Ladler did a solid job in position drills and many of his testing marks were top-shelf, but a 40-yard dash time which did not break 4.7 seconds sticks out like a sore thumb.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED

1. The testing marks for Keith McGill of Utah were impressive: under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 39 inches in the vertical jump as well as a broad jump of 10-foot-9. All this at 211 pounds. However, McGill looked stiff and showed marginal quickness during position drills  Expect a number of teams to move McGill from their cornerback board to the safety position.

2. Virginia Tech's Antone Exum, graded as a potential first-round pick entering the season, looked a fraction of his former self Tuesday. Exum has struggled returning from the knee surgery he underwent in February 2013 as his game looks a step slower. Don’t be surprised if he’s still available when the final day of the draft begins May 10.

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