The whirlwind of the NFL Scouting Combine is almost completed, with one final day of workouts still in store before teams and players go their separate ways in preparation for individual pro days and ultimately the NFL Draft, which is exactly two months away to the day. Today the true speedsters of the combine hit the turf to show off their skills to the NFL brass, hoping to display speed, quickness, and a strong vertical leap. The cornerbacks and safeties will be put to the test today, and I am previewing top players and sleeper candidates to look out for today, as well as in the draft. Starting with the corners:
Dee Milliner, CB Alabama
How strange to see another member of the National Champion Crimson Tide at the combine, with 10 members of Nick Saban’s squad demonstrating their skills. In my opinion, Dee Milliner is the best of the bunch and still managed to blend in with the wide array of talent around him and is truly a number 1 corner at the next level. Measuring in at 6’0″ 201 lbs. I believe that Milliner has the size and speed to be an impact corner at the next level and his 40 time could catapult him solidly into the top 10 in the draft. Most people believe him to run in the 4.46-4.5 range, but I would not be surprised to see him run in the 4.36-4.40 and should he do this, he should expect to see a rise in his stock. His best trait on the field is his toughness, able to wrap up on tackles and does not shy away from contact. Teams will be aware, though, that he is participating in the combine injured with a torn labrum and will have surgery to rectify it in March. I still believe that he will have a good showing in Indy and solidify his place at the top of the cornerback chart.
Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State
Rhodes had a strong season at Florida State this season, but has still seen a drop in his stock from last season, and he now sits as a fringe first round player/second rounder. He is a big physical corner measuring in at 6’1″ 210 lbs., a bit down from his playing weight during the season. This hopefully should translate to added speed which could only help him as I don’t believe that he will run well at the combine, running in the 4.5-4.6 range. If he can run in the 4.4 range, he will strongly be in first round consideration, as he is very strong in press coverage and is physical enough to force wide receivers to the outside. It will be interesting to see how he runs, as his time will be a direct reflection on his draft selection. Still, regardless of the 4.4-4.5 time, he is an intriguing prospect and should he drop, a team will get a good bargain on him.
Other Top Names:
- Jonathan Banks, CB Mississippi State
- Desmond Trufant, CB Washington
Under the Radar:
- Robert Alford, CB Southeastern Louisiana
- Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Connecticut
- Tyrann Mathieu, CB Louisiana State
This years safety class looks to be strong up top with good depth and I think that a lot of unknown talent will step up and make themselves known after today. There is currently one player who looks like a solid first round pick up to this point, but I believe we could see 2 more after today that warrant themselves with a first round selection, regardless of whether they get picked there, I think that there is good talent at the top of the safety class. Starting off:
Kenny Vaccaro, SS Texas
Vaccaro is this years top safety who as of now could see a top-10 selection, but more than likely top-15, but I believe his workouts will translate well and he will demonstrate the necessary skill et to be a successful safety at the next level. He measured in well at 6’0″ 214 lbs. and has long arms, so his 15 reps on the bench will not be a knock against him. He had a strong final season at Texas racking up 92 tackles and shows that he is unafraid of contact. He looks to be athletic, so we should expect a good vertical leap and a good broad jump, and if he can run in the 4.5-4.6 range it should demonstrate that he can be a great centerfielder at the next level. Look for Vaccaro to work out very well.
Eric Reid, FS Louisiana State
A tackling machine who looks like a tremendous NFL-ready safety, Reid looks to show his talents to the NFL brass, and I believe he will impress in Indy, running and working out well enough to possibly slide into the first round. Reid measured in at 6’1″ 213 lbs. and racked up 91 tackles. He is comfortable playing the run and the pass, dropping back or playing up in the box and rushing the quarterback. He needs to run in the 4.4-4.5 range to solidify a first round grade, which I believe he will do. Look out for Reid and Vaccaro to be a toss up come draft time, with Reid possibly jumping ahead as the top safety.
Other Top Names:
- John Cyprien, FS Florida International
- Matt Elam, FS Florida
Under the Radar:
- T.J. McDonald, FS USC
- Phillip Thomas, SS Fresno St.
Check back in the next day or two for a follow-up of how the combine fared for many of these players, such as who helped their stock and who dropped. Send us a tweet @theorangewedge to give your thoughts!