Coming in to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, this was the position group that I was most looking forward to seeing. I think that of all the position groups the Bears’ are sure to address this offseason the defensive backfield will go through the largest overhaul. There was plenty of talent on display this morning and, like most of the positions in this year’s draft, I was really impressed by the overall depth of the group. There were remarkably few disappointing times and nearly all of the prospects had bright spots in the drills. I’ll be using official 40 times again today, so let’s get down to business:
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: Some analysts have him as their top rated corner in this class, but I was a little disappointed with Dennard’s performance today. Not that he stood out as a poor performer, but he didn’t distance himself from the competition as much as I expected. He ran a solid 4.51 in the 40 yard dash and looked a little tight in the drills. He looks like a scheme-specific sort of player to me and needs to play for a team that uses a lot of press coverage. The main problem I see there is that he’s a little short (5′ 11″, 30 inch arms) for that type of scheme.
Brandon Dixon, Northwest Missouri State: A small school prospect that showed me something today. He’s well-built and moved very well. Dixon turned in a very good 40 time of 4.41 and really stood out to me in all the drills. Coming from such a low-level of competition he’s likely to be a bit of a project, but I think he’s a player the Bears should seriously consider drafting come the third day of the draft.
Antone Exum, Virginia Tech: Big and really well put together, Exum had a nice showing today. He posted a 4.59 in the 40, which is actually pretty impressive for a guy of his size (6′ 0″, 213 lbs.), and had a decent showing in the field drills. Feels like a safety to me.
Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: One of the most impressive specimens of the day. He had a time of 4.49 in the 40 and was one of the day’s best performers in the field drills. His 38.5 inch vertical jump was impressive as well. Unfortunately for the Bears, corners with his combination of length (6′ 0″, 33 inch arms) and athleticism are the “in thing” right now in the NFL so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him sneak into the bottom of the first round. If he does make it to the Bears’ second round pick, I think they should sprint to the podium.
Phillip Gaines, Rice: Gaines had the second fastest 40 time of any DB at the combine with a blistering 4.38. He also ran smoothly in the drills, but his ball skills leave something to be desired.
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert distanced himself from the competition today. He has the length (6′ 0″, 33 inch arms), athleticism (4.37 in the 40), and ball skills NFL teams covet. He was also phenomenal in the drills. At this point, I would be absolutely shocked if he fell out of the top 10 (I’m looking at you, Lions).
Keith McGill, Utah: Another lesser known prospect that I came away impressed with. McGill has exceptional length (6′ 3″, 33 inch arms), respectable athleticism (4.51 in the 40, 39 inch vertical), and looked extremely fluid in the field drills. He’s bound to rise up draft boards very soon.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida: One of the more disappointing performances of the day. I had heard so much about his athleticism, that his 4.61 in the 40 really surprised me. He also had some concentration lapses in the drills that required him to catch the football.
Marcus Roberson, Florida: Another disappointment from a former Gator. He could only muster a 4.61 in the 40 and ran far too upright in the drills. There had been some talk of Roberson sneaking into the first round, but I expect that chatter to die down now. If he falls too far, however, he could wind up being a steal for somebody because he’s still a very good football player.
Bradley Roby, Ohio State: After a lackluster final season of college ball, today’s eye-popping performance was exactly what Roby’s draft stock needed. He blazed a 4.39 in the 40 and might have had the best performance in the field drills of any player out there today. He reminded people why he was projected to go in the top 20 in last year’s draft.
Jason Verrett, TCU: Another stand-out of the day. He’s small (5′ 9″, 189 lbs.), but what Verrett lack in size he makes up with his special movement skills. He jumped 39 inches in the vertical, posted a 4.38 in the 40 and looked good in all the field drills.
Other Notes- Aaron Colvin did not participate today.
Hit the page jump for the safeties…