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2020 NFL Combine Preview: Day 4 (DB)

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Here it is. The 2020 NFL Combine. Indianapolis. The capital of Hype Country. And the first group of prospects are a couple of hours away from hitting the field!

Disclaimer number one: Teams value combine medicals and interviews over the workout. Athleticism can be evaluated on tape, perhaps even more accurately as they’re playing the game. What they’re thinking during a specific play, however, is much harder to get a grasp on.

Disclaimer number two: for a majority of these prospects, this is simply a box to tick and nothing more should be made of it. Isaiah Simmons is an outstanding athlete. We don’t need his future freakish combine numbers to tell us that. It’s a big reason why we’re seeing top-end prospects hold-out from the on-field workouts, understandably so.

Disclaimer number three: a 4.5s 40-yard dash is fast, even 4.6 for certain players. Plenty fast enough. Anything lower than that is bonus speed. Great bonus speed, but bonus speed nonetheless.

This article has two goals: pointing out where your eyes should be as we go through the combine evaluation process, as well as where they shouldn’t be. Not every workout at the combine means the same for every position, and not every measurement should be interpreted similarly. Data collected at the combine doesn’t mean much when isolated from the tape. A 280lb edge rusher shouldn’t be evaluated to the same standards as a 240lb edge rusher. Their game isn’t the same and they win in different manners.

Use the tape to point you to what you should pay attention to during the combine. And vice-versa if you find anomalies during the combine. Some players show traits that don’t pop up on tape. If people watched D.K. Metcalf‘s games at Ole Miss, they wouldn’t have expected a fast 3-Cone and thus wouldn’t have made as much of a deal out of it. It’s not a part of his game, and it hasn’t been in his rookie season.

I’ll break down every position group, which workouts matter and which don’t, as well as what I hope to see from certain prospects. You’ll also find my “best performance” predictions for certain measurables per position.

You can refer to this piece as a guide throughout the week as positional groups take turns hitting the field, at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Click here to read my 2020 NFL Combine Day 2 Preview (RB/OL).

2020 NFL Combine Preview: Day 4 (DB)

Click here to view my Top-100 2020 NFL Draft Big Board



Cornerbacks

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CBFavoriteDark HorseHonorable Mentions
40 Yard DashJavelin GuidryJavaris DavisTroy Pride Jr.

It has been a fast combine throughout all the position groups. Offensive and defensive linemen showed out, the receivers and linebackers were as fast as expected, and it’s not about to stop when the cornerbacks step onto the field. We have a blazing fast and athletic group of corners on our hands, headlined by blue-chip prospect Jeffrey Okudah.

There are a ton of corners that could run sub-4.5 or even hit 4.3s tonight, but none more exciting than Javelin Guidry. He’s bound to have a role as a special teamer at the next level and it’ll be tough to earn playing time as anything more due to his size, but he’s a heck of an athlete. Guidry is a former high school track star, winning state titles in Texas and California. He’s a true candidate to beat Henry Ruggs III‘s 4.27, and even challenge John Ross‘ record. Here’s a video of him running a 100m sprint back in high school (lane 7):

We also have a good number of big and long corners performing today. Jaylon Johnson, Trevon Diggs, Cam Dantzler… Sizeable corners usually get drafted pretty high in the draft, but don’t always fit the bill as the most athletically impressive corners. The combine should provide some valuable numbers for their scouting reports and may help break up some of the clusters they find themselves in.

Player previews

  • Jeff Okudah’s elite footwork and athleticism should be on display all day long. I expect he’ll jump out of the gym on his vert, showcase his recovery and closing speed on the 40, and tear up the agility and positional workouts. There’s not much for him to prove, but I expect he’ll stand out from the rest of the class.
  • Below Okudah on my big board, is a cluster of four corners I still struggle ranking in my mind. They all have elite traits and are very good at how they win, but they all win differently… Jeff Gladney, C.J. Henderson, Trevon Diggs and Kristian Fulton. Fulton is an excellent press-man corner with great patience, footwork and technique, but I question his long speed and recovery. The 40 will be a valuable number to add to his profile. I’ll be happy if he hits 4.5s.
  • C.J. Henderson and Jeff Gladney are outstanding athletes. Henderson is super fluid, with good recovery speed and should be in his element in Indy. He should look tremendous and set a standard on the positional drills, with the smoothness of his backpedal and fluidity in his hips. Can’t wait to see his on-field workout. Gladney has track star speed. He could run in the 4.3s and be among the top in the class. He’s a twitchy corner with good technique in off-coverage. He’s a bit undersized, but his gritty play style helps against more physical wideouts. He should look good and his explosiveness should be on display when he jumps.
  • Diggs is a bit more of an unknown when it comes to his athletic testing. He plays with great instincts, which may make up for some speed concerns (although I don’t think he’s necessarily slow). His ball skills and acumen recognizing route concepts are outstanding. It’ll be interesting to see how he compares to the rest of the class athletically.
  • The Auburn corners: Noah Igbinoghene and Javaris Davis look especially fast on tape. Igbinoghene has the recovery speed and click & close ability you like in a corner, but his ball skills and ability to time his plays on the ball remain a major concern. Javaris Davis is a track star so he should be a top performer on the 40. He’s a small corner who’s next level projection lies at nickel, or as a special teamer.
  • Long physical corners like Jaylon Johnson and Cam Dantzler have shown a lot of quality traits on tape. Dantzler is great in press-coverage constantly switching up his technique and approach. He looks fast as well. I’m interested in seeing his positional workout, get a comparative view on his fluidity as an athlete.
  • This year will be the first time I introduce a new position to my defensive rankings: nickel. I always fall for the smaller, gritty and physical corners every draft year but have the toughest time ranking them among the other cornerbacks. Darnay Holmes, CB out of UCLA, will fall pretty high in those rankings. He’s gritty, competitive, physical, twitchy and athletic. There’s a ton to like and it could show on his combine numbers, particularly in agility testing. I’m curious to see him among the rest of the group. Another nickel I really like is Amik Robertson, out of LA Tech. He shows great instincts in coverage and physicality.

Safety

Embed from Getty Images

SFavoriteDark HorseHonorable Mentions
40 Yard DashKyle DuggerAlohi GilmanAshtyn Davis

The corners will run fast and so should the safety class. There is no safety in this group more exciting than Kyle Dugger. Dugger was a Senior Bowl standout back in January, out of DII program Lenoir-Rhyne. If you hadn’t heard of him before the combine, you definitely will now. He’s a freakish height/weight/speed athlete. Some teams will view him as a strong safety (the role he played in the LR Bears‘ defense), some will want him at Sam. One thing’s for sure, he’ll start generating some first-round buzz once the public gets his combine numbers.


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Dugger may not win the 40-yard dash for the position, but he should be a top performer and is definitely going to generate some buzz.

Player previews

  • At the top of my safety board is Grant Delpit. A fluid free safety whose athleticism should standout during drills. He’s a pretty fast safety, I think he can run in the low 4.5s, maybe high 4.4s, but what makes his range so great are his instincts and recognition time. He has some impressive leap ability as well.
  • McKinney is a quick, versatile safety who fits multiple roles in the Alabama defense. He looks like a pretty nimble athlete which should be fun to evaluate during on-field drills.
  • Unfortunately, Ashtyn Davis will not run at the combine. He would have put on a show, as a former track star for Cal.
  • Winfield has quite a bit riding on the combine. I believe he is athletic but I question his ability to impact the game as a single-high safety. Mainly because of speed concerns. A nice 40 could help reassure me with my ranking as Safety-3.
  • Alohi Gilman is another versatile safety, out of Notre Dame. Some believe he’s a zone-corner or nickel at the next level, due to his outstanding instincts in the short to intermediate game. He’s extremely quick and fast to close on the underneath game. His speed could show today.
  • Jeremy Chinn is a very athletic strong safety, but he played a significant amount of snaps in deep coverage. He’s quick to diagnose plays and fast to close. He should be fun to keep an eye on as well.
  • If you watched the college football playoffs, you may be familiar with K’Von Wallace. He’s a versatile defender on he back-end who made plays all over the field. He has outstanding eyes and movement to be at the right place, at the right time. He’s small, so his upside at the next level is very limited but he could be a great special teamer. His athleticism should stand out and some special teams coach somewhere will love what they see.

Click here to read my two-round 2020 NFL Mock Draft

About Selyan Lonqueux

Junior NFL Draft analyst, and aspiring football coach. Active Wide Receiver across the pond, in Europe. The truth lies in the tape, the whole tape and nothing but the tape.

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