We're taking you through each day of the NFL Combine to showcase some of the standout performances. Take a look at some of the players you should keep an eye on...
The book is closed on the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, as the defensive backs took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday and performed brilliantly as a group. We saw fast times, quick shuttles, and a lot of next-level starters on the final day. Here are nine players from the defensive back workout who improved their draft stock.
CB Shaquill Griffin: Despite being a productive starting college corner for three seasons, scouts around the league graded Griffin as a marginal free agent entering the season due to concerns about his speed. The senior quelled those concerns, timing just under 4.4 seconds in the 40 and turning in a tremendous practice session. Griffin looked as good as any cornerback during ball drills, displaying a quick backpedal, smooth hip turn, and the ability to explode to the ball out of his plant. Sized well at just about 6-0, 194 pounds, Griffin now enters the conversation as a potential middle-round choice.
CB Kevin King: King was another prospect who came to the Combine with questions about his ability to run. The tall corner possesses excellent size and next-level ball skills, but struggled in deep coverage last year. Like Griffin, King ran much faster than expected by timing 4.43 seconds in the 40. He may have run himself into the late part of the first round.
CB Adoree' Jackson: Jackson was fast (4.41 seconds in the 40), smooth, and very quick. Considering he suffered a serious ankle injury during the Rose Bowl on January 2, he ran well and I would expect faster times during the Trojans' Pro Day. Jackson looked terrific in drills, easily flipping his hips, displaying speed moving in every direction, and snatching the ball from the air in the deep field. He secured himself as a first-round pick.
CB Chidobe Awuzie: Awuzie's workout was long anticipated by scouts after a toe injury kept him out of the Senior Bowl. He responded with a knockout performance. He posted a solid 40 time in the low-4.4s, touched 11 feet in the broad jump, and ran the short shuttle in a solid 4.14 seconds. Awuzie was then very effective in position drills and will receive consideration late in the first round.
S Budda Baker: Baker is another Washington defensive back who impressed during the Combine. He timed 4.45 seconds in the 40 as one of the fastest safeties of the day, posted a short shuttle of 4.08 seconds, and then clocked 6.76 seconds in the 3-cone. Baker looked solid in position drills and solidified himself as a late first-round selection.
S Marcus Williams: Williams' times in the 40, 3-cone, and shuttle were solid, but he really stood out in position work. He looked like a cornerback during drills, displaying a quick backpedal, the ability to flip his hips, and top-notch ball skills. The lack of great speed may limit the number of schemes Williams can play in, but there's no doubting his next-level potential.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: Witherspoon takes a back seat to teammate Chidobe Awuzie, but he was another Colorado defensive back who leaves the Combine a winner. Witherspoon's numbers were similar to his teammate's, as he timed mid-to-low-4.4s in the 40 and 4.13 seconds in the short shuttle. He looked technically sound during position drills and set himself up as a solid second-day choice.
CB Gareon Conley: Conley is the forgotten man in the Ohio State secondary, but don't ignore his ability. He ran well in the 40 (4.45 seconds), looked terrific in position drills, and has scouts believing he's a next-level starter, which is a justifiable opinion.
S Josh Jones: Jones proved on Monday why he's the most underrated safety in the draft. He timed 4.41 seconds in the 40 at 220 pounds, touched 37.5 inches in the vertical jump, and reached 11 feet in the broad jump. Jones looked equally as athletic during position drills, and cemented himself as a second-day choice.
Honorable Mention: I could have legitimately added another half-dozen players to this list, as each defensive back performed better than the next one. Tre'Davious White, Fabian Moreau, Obi Melifonwu, Montae Nicholson, Delano Hill, and Brendan Langley are six more players who improved their draft stock with outstanding performances in Indianapolis.
- Tony Pauline
Inside The Numbers: Cornerback
1. A lot of corners had outstanding performances on Monday, as Tony noted above, but another name that needs to be mentioned in this group is Cordrea Tankersley. After sitting out the Senior Bowl, Tankersley measured in at least the 80th percentile among all corners drafted since 2012 in height (6-1 1/4), length (32 1/4" arms), and top-end speed (4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash). Long corners with ball skills who can run typically don't fall too far on draft day.
2. Tankersley belongs in the first-round discussion, but these two corners are already there. Both Marlon Humphrey as well as Marshon Lattimore impressed with their workouts to close out the Combine. Lattimore came in at above-average height (6-0), but his 40 time (4.36 seconds) and broad jump (11') are both in the 90th percentile since 2012. Humphrey came in at above-average height as well at 6-0 1/4, but was good across the board in the 80th percentile with a 4.41 40-yard time and a 6.75 3-cone time.
3. Fabian Moreau was one of the big stars of the day. At 6-0 1/2, 204 pounds, he broke 4.4 speed with a 4.35 unofficial 40-yard dash. Why is that most notable? Well, if you use Football Outsiders' "Speed Score" formula, which takes a prospect's weight into account, he'd come out with a Speed Score of 115.1, which would rank as the highest of any cornerback drafted since at least 2012. It should also be noted that Jalen Myrick bested that mark with a Speed Score of 118.1, running a 4.29-second 40 at 200 pounds.
4. Tony mentioned Gareon Conley above, and he tested well across the board, but it was his 6.68-second 3-cone drill that really stood out to me because it ranked in the 90th percentile of all corners taken in the last five years. Twelve corners out of 146 possible draftees ran a better 6.68 during their pre-draft process, but only one of them weighed in heavier than Conley's 195-pound frame.
- Fran Duffy
Inside The Numbers: Safety
1. Almost all of the big-name rookie defensive backs took the field on Monday, and I say almost because some obviously missed the workout due to injury, while one other actually worked out on Sunday. Jabrill Peppers was adamant over the weekend that he plans to line up at safety at the next level, despite the fact that he was forced to work out with the linebacker group in Indianapolis. Sure, his numbers looked outstanding next to bigger and slower linebackers, but how about when they were matched up against safeties? Well, the athleticism held up. Peppers' official 40-time of 4.46 seconds and his broad jump of 10'8" both rank in the 90th percentile of safeties drafted in the last five years. And he did it at an above-average weight of 213 pounds.
2. No safety put on a better show on Monday than UConn's Obi Melfonwu, who set the standard for safeties in the broad jump with an 11'9" attempt on top of a 44-inch vertical leap. Both are the highest numbers of any safety drafted in the last five years, though it should be noted that the Cowboys' Byron Jones was listed as a cornerback coming out of school. Using the same Speed Score metric, Melifonwu posted a 119.5, which is also the highest of any safety during that same span, running a 4.40-second 40 at 224 pounds (a weight which also ranks above the 90th percentile). The big man put on a remarkable performance on Monday afternoon.
3. One last fun fact - Malik Hooker has bigger hands (10 3/4") than any safety drafted since at least 2012.
- Fran Duffy