This is the 2016 NFL Combine Field Drills Recap for the defensive backs. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
2016 NFL Combine: Field Drills Recap - Defensive Backs By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
For a point of comparison, in 2015 and 2014 the average 40 time for a defensive back was 4.54 seconds. The fastest year average was 4.49 in 2008. Here are some times of other recent defensive back prospects:
Justin Gilbert: 4.37
Jason Verrett: 4.38
Xavier Rhodes: 4.43
Kyle Fuller: 4.49
Darqueze Dennard: 4.51
Calvin Pryor: 4.58
Kenny Vaccaro: 4.63
Houston's William Jackson was the star of the defensive backs on Monday. He was the fastest corner or safety with a sparking 40-yard dash time of 4.37 seconds, officially. In the field drills, Jackson turned really well and showed excellent ball skills with the ability to make hands catches. He was good in the gauntlet and was smooth in his back pedal while turning fluidly. Jackson showed loose hips and the ability to open up. The 6-foot, 189-pounder has length with a strong season of senior year tape. After missing the Senior Bowl with an injury, Jackson made the most of the Combine to push himself into round-one consideration.
Florida State's Jalen Ramsey is the favorite to be the first defensive back drafted. Some teams view him as a free safety, while others think he's a press-man corner. At the Combine, Ramsey was expected to be a standout and he lived up to the expectations. The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder had an official time of 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Ramsey had two excellent jumps with 41.5 inches vertically and 11-3 in the broad. He was tied for the best vertical and led all of the defensive backs in the broad jump. In the field drills, he turned pretty well and was good at breaking on the ball. He was a little wide with his body at times, but overall, Ramsey was impressive. The Combine should only serve to confirm his status as a high first-rounder.
Florida's Vernon Hargreaves is the top pure cornerback in the draft, and he had a solid workout. Hargreaves' official 40-yard dash time was 4.50, but the unofficial hand times had him in the 4.4s. The 5-foot-10, 204-pounder looked a little tight opening his hips in the field drills, but he has tremendous feet. Those feet allowed him to have ideal transitions from backpedaling and cutting. He didn't have wasted steps while also showing excellent ball skills. Hargreaves high points the ball with soft hands. On the vertical jump (39) and broad jump (10-10), Hargreaves recorded better than average totals. Overall, this workout should help Hargreaves to be a top-10 pick.
Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple is on the bubble of the first and second round so he needed a strong Combine performance. Apple delivered, as he ran faster than expected with an official 40 time of 4.40. The 6-foot, 199-pounder was decent in the field drills. He has a nice skill set, but could use work on technique. A big point of emphasis will be not grabbing receivers, as that was a problem for him last year. Still, Apple proved that he has special athleticism to develop for the NFL.
A cornerback who really helped himself at the Combine was Miami's Arti Burns. The 5-foot-11, 193-pounder had a good 40 time at 4.46 seconds. He was even better in the field drills, as he showed loose hips with the ability to break on the ball. He was fluid and athletic. Burns also has drawn positive reviews off the field. Sources have said they've graded Burns on the second day of the draft, and the Combine should solidify his spot as a second- or third-rounder.
Another corner who was better than expected was Auburn's Jonathan Jones. He had the fastest official 40 time of 4.33 seconds and leapt well in the broad jump to give further evidence of his explosiveness. Jones turned well in the field drills, too. Jones (5-9, 186) is short on size, but he used the Combine to show he doesn't lack for speed.
Florida safety Keanu Neal could get consideration late in the first round, but shouldn't last long if he falls to the second day. Neal had a slower than expected 40 time of 4.62 seconds. However, he showed some explosiveness with an excellent broad jump of 11-0. Neal also performed well in the field drills. He was a fluid athlete and tracked the ball well. Neal (6-0, 211) has versatile size and speed to be a strong or free safety in the NFL. Overall, his Combine was good with the exception of the 40 time that he probably will improve on at the Gators' pro day.
Some in the media have been pumping up Southeastern Louisiana cornerback Harlan Miller. In speaking with team sources, they feel that the media has overhyped Miller. At the Combine, that was given more credence, as Miller had an extremely slow 40 time for a cornerback at 4.65 seconds. His 10-yard split of 1.63 was also poor. Miller's broad and vertical jumps were on the low end as well. Miller needs to improve on his numbers at his pro day.
LSU cornerback Rashard Robinson has teams that are targeting him on day three of the draft, as they feel he has an early-round skill set. However, the off-the-field issues are pushing Robinson down. He put his impressive skill set on display at the Combine, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds. Robinson (6-1, 171) looked excellent in the field drills. He was fast and fluid. With his height, length, and athleticism, Robinson could go in the early rounds on day three of the draft.
Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez didn't run the 40, but he looked good in the field drills. Sanchez (5-10, 185) is an undersized nickel with good ball skills.
Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander didn't run or partake in the field drills because of a hamstring injury. Ohio State safety Vonn Bell also declined to workout. Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller and West Virginia safety Karl Joseph both had season-ending injuries last year. Neither worked out at the Combine.