Combine Review – Defensive Backs

George Iloka, FS Boise State – Measured in at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Mayock mentioned that some teams are quietly looking at him as a weak side linebacker. Iloka ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash which isn’t a bad time given his size. He showed very good hands in drills, catching the ball away from his body. George has got some extremely long arms on him. Very stiff when transitioning from his backpedal to turn and cover. Very stiff. Again, when asked to drop back and move his hips he looked stiff down the hash. I personally don’t see a guy that could cover consistently as a safety.

Leonard Johnson, CB Iowa State – Physical corner for the Cyclones who there was a buzz about coming into the Combine as a possible Top 40 pick. I think that went away today as he ran a disappointing 4.71 40-yard dash. Always thought he was meant to play in a strict Cover 2 and now he’ll be available where most of those teams pick – the mid rounds. Looked alright in his backpedal and turn, but had a bit of a pop coming out of it. Just needs to work on staying low in a natural setting. His hips actually did not look too tight on the hash. Frankly, speed looks to be the knock here and for some teams that is fine.

Robert Blanton, DB Notre Dame – I’ve talked about Blanton on the site before. He played corner for the Irish, but I figured he was being looked at to play safety in the league. Came out and ran a 4.7 on Tuesday which is fine as he is being looked at to play safety, just like former Notre Dame corner Mike Richardson who the Patriots drafted. Drew compliments from everyone there for how he carried himself. Showed good hands in drills. You can see that he’s limited in the hips, but was always a very physical tackler in South Bend. I think he’d make a good late round prospect at free safety. I was surprised he only did 12 reps of 225. Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo is supposed to be one of the best in the business.

Omar Bolden, CB Arizona State – Bolden missed this past season with a torn ACL, but as Mike Mayock said, he was thought to be a Top 100 prospect prior to his injury. One thing that I was extremely impressed with was that he put up 225 pounds 24 times on the bench. Simply put, he didn’t sit on his butt while he was injured and did nearly double the average of what other corners do at the Combine. Hopefully he can get healthy and continue his career.

Antonio Allen, S South Carolina – Looked a bit stiff when turning his hips in transition. Wasn’t fluid in the open field either. His times back it up as well in terms of the three-cone and the short shuttle. Played a ROVER spot for the Gamecocks, so it’s either SS or bust for him.

Dwight Bentley, CB Louisiana-Lafayette – Smooth backpedal and hips looked good in transition to running in drills. Good ball skills. Ran really well with a 4.43 which will help his stock. Kid has tiny hands though at only 8 inches. Also didn’t do particularly well in other drills like the short shuttle (4.5) or vertical (31.5).

Justin Bethel, CB Presbyterian – Smooth in backpedal and transition. Definitely showed off his athleticism and hands in drills. He looked “springy” out there. If you check out tests that show out lower body explosion, that translated into numbers. He had a 39.5-inch vert and a 10’11” broad jump.

Ron Brooks, CB LSU – Brooks was solid in his backpedal, but when it came to his transitions there were some issues. He was taking an extra step and popped up a bit, getting high. In the open field I saw good hips and ball skills. 4.37 40-yard dash and a 38-inch vertical leap. Started in the slot at LSU.    

Charles Brown, CB North Carolina – High in backpedal, jumps through his transition. Has a few extra steps when changing directions and looks like he might be a straight Cover 2 guy. The issue with that is that he’s always been a man corner that’s been good in press. Of course, he also was measured with the arms of a hobbit at the Combine.

Sean Cattouse, S Cal – High in backpedal and stiff in transition, but that was to be expected. Was pleasantly surprised with his hips in coverage; however he’s still going to be best in the box. Needs to catch the ball better as he had a few drops.

Morris Claiborne, CB LSU – A big high in his backpedal, but flips his hips so quickly in transition and is seamless. Plays high at all times and is going to need to change that in the NFL – I don’t care how good he is. Elite ball skills. Looks effortless catching the ball. Claiborne is elite.

Alfonso Dennard, CB Nebraska – Flat-footed in backpedal and pops in transition. Hips don’t open well. Just lacks elite athleticism. He had a very good vertical leap on Tuesday, but I came away unimpressed with him in drills.

Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina – High in backpedal, but nice transition. Opening hips well. Quick feet in and out of breaks. As mentioned, he plays high like Claiborne does. Has to get lower. Also ran a blazing time of 4.4 in the 40 and just did well in the Underwear Olympics.

Winston Guy, S Kentucky – All over the place in backpedal. Not following directions well. Doesn’t open hips and just lacks athleticism. Box safety at best athletically. Wish I had something better to say about him.

Cliff Harris, CB Oregon – Too high and stumbling. Terrible hips and change of direction. Really did nothing to impress. Had some issues at Oregon that got him kicked off the team by Chip Kelly.

Mike Harris, CB Florida State – Went through the drill too fast and didn’t look comfortable. Solid hips, but not special. Looked like he was struggling a little bit to locate the ball at times.

Casey Hayward, CB Vanderbilt – Drifting at times in backpedal, but nothing serious. Good hips, looked smooth and found the ball in location drills. Showed good hands and concentration. Ran well. Looked quicker than fast.

Delano Howell, S Stanford – Good backpedal, but stiff turning on a consistent basis. Anyone who has watched Howell, including scouts, knew that was the case though; so it comes as no surprise. He hustled his butt off all day. Loved the work ethic.

Duke Ihenacho, S San Jose State – Looks really stiff at times in transition. Hips look a bit stiff when changing direction dropping back on the hash as well. Extra steps in and out of breaks. Looks limited athletically and a lot of it is because his technique just looks terrible. Good ball skills though. Could be a matter of coaching. Admittedly, I did not see him in action in the regular season.

Asa Jackson, CB Cal Poly – Nice hips and location of ball. Pretty good in and out of breaks. Thought he looked like a very solid overall athlete. Decent ball skills. Thought that he played fast through drills without trying to force things, which simply tells me it’s his natural pace.

Janzen Jackson, S McNeese State – Very quick feet and nice hips. Athletic kid, but gets out of control. Runs drills like he just did a line off his finger. Has more corner athleticism than safety. Very impressive at times. A very intriguing player to watch. I was shocked that he only ran a 4.64 as he just looks so much faster on the field.

Janoris Jenkins, CB North Alabama – Very smooth backpedal and transition. Really good hips and ball skills. Looks very comfortable changing direction and is on his toes at all times. Ran an outstanding 4.46 in the 40-yard dash.

Trumaine Johnson, CB Montana – High backpedal and stiff and high transition. Looks like a safety when moving. Nice job of ball location dropping back, but he was all over the hash. Athleticism is there, but definitely not a cornerback in my opinion.

De’Andre Presley, CB Appalachian State – Only played one season at cornerback, so he’s a work in progress. A bit high in pedal and then rough out of transition, but you could see natural athleticism, especially when he got into the open field in other drills. Ball skills were definitely his forte.

Antwuan Reed, CB Pittsburgh – Good, low backpedal in drill followed by a bit of a slow transition. Liked the technique though. Hips looked pretty good. I’ve watched enough of Reed to know he was a very solid college CB that lacks speed (4.64), but is a really hard worker. I’m not sure how to value him.

Sean Richardson, S Vanderbilt
– Huge, barrel-chested kid who was high in backpedal, but looked surprisingly good turning his hips. Looked a bit stiffer in the hips in open field. Had excellent numbers – 4.52, 22 reps, 38.5-inch, 10’8”

Josh Robinson, CB UCF – Phenomenal workout. Posted a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash time and then followed up with 11’1” in the broad jump, a 38.5-inch vertical, a 6.55 three-cone and a 3.97 short shuttle. Apparently Robinson was a bit motivated after being told by the Advisory Board he wouldn’t be a Top 100 pick. Stumbled through his transition on his first run showing off backpedal. Dropping back on the hash he looked a bit methodical and stiff in the lower body; not fluid.

Coty Sensabaugh, CB Clemson – On his heels too much in backpedal and had to take an extra step in transition because of it. Opened his hips well. Long athlete who shows really good speed. Smoked the 40-yard dash with a 4.42.

Harrison Smith, S Notre Dame – Backpedal looked fine, but jumping through turn and isn’t natural. Needs to work on planting foot and transitioning versus what he’s doing now. Very smooth opening his hips dropping back. Looked really light on his feet. Looks outstanding in drills. Hayseed really posted some outstanding numbers as well and this will boost his stock in a big way. I’ve gone on record that I don’t see him as a 1st or 2nd Round pick, but it looks like it’s going to happen.

Ryan Steed, CB Furman – Built really well. Looks extremely slow running in the open field. Looked stiff overall. Not a good day.

Johnny Thomas, S Oklahoma State – Very well built. Good job getting knees up high dropping back, but tight. Did not look bad at all in man drill when opening up. Intriguing given his build. Sat out the entire year for disciplinary reasons.

Phillip Thomas, S Syracuse – Low backpedal, very smooth in it. Bad transition. All over the place dropping back. Much better in man drill. Ran a horrible 4.74 in the 40. Was kicked off the team at Syracuse by Doug Marrone for repeated drug use.

Christian Thompson, S South Carolina State
– Three attempts to get drop back drill right and still didn’t get it right, so can’t comment on how he did on initial drills. Apparently seeing 20 kids do it first and get extra instruction wasn’t enough. Was surprised that he’s only just over 6-foot as he looks very tall. Long torso. Had a few drops. Was hoping to see him blow it up as he has a great rep as a bit of a ball hawk.

Trevin Wade, CB Arizona – Few wasted steps dropping back, but opened hips naturally. On his heels a lot, but you can see the athleticism. Just needs coaching.

Corey White, S Samford – Low in his pedal, but doesn’t bring his body with his hips through turn. Opens hips well and high-points the ball.

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6 Responses to Combine Review – Defensive Backs

  1. Gavin says:

    Will never understand why the combine carries the weight that it does. Certainly, it can serve as an eye opener for kids coming from small schools that are not features on TV each week, but like you, I cannot understand how a kid like Harrison Smith can shoot up draft boards based on drills he has been preparing for for months. He is made for the combine — just a great athlete who can do a lot. That said, not sure how you can ignore four inconsistent years (I know, I know, coaching/position changes).

    He deserves to be drafted and has earned his way into the NFL, but the first or second round is a reach at best.

  2. Gavin says:

    Also, cannot possibly wait for Janoris Jenkins’ career to kick off. Safe bet he led the defensive backs at the combine in illegitimate children. Next stop, Cromartie territory.

  3. Matt Alkire says:

    Gav,

    On the surface, I agree with you.

    What I’m going to do is go back and watch a few games of Hayseed though and I will tell you why. Mike Mayock saw the same film as I did and was impressed and he’s one of the very few experts I respect to the point where I will take the time to double-check myself.

    – What if I prejudged Harrison too much because he was originally a LB?
    – Did I take into account how horrible the corner play was?
    – Did I take into account how bad the pass rush was?

    I need to go back and watch him again. It’s not because of his NUMBERS, I knew he’d put them up — it’s because of how excellent he looked in drills. He was very athletic.

    Now, if I go back and he still looks like a 4th/5th rounder to me, then that’s my grade.

  4. Yesares says:

    What about Jamell Fleming?
    His numbers in 40 dash, bench, broad jump, 3 cone and SS has been very good. I can`t see their drills.

    Was good in backpedaling and fluid in hips, breaks in/outs?

    I think his main weakness is tackling, not a very sound tackler IMO, but this is something coachable.

  5. Bob says:

    Great write up, thanks again.

    In your opinion, who of the DBs are worthy of 1st and 2nd round picks? It doesn’t seem like there are a lot this year.

  6. TN says:

    funny that you mention that janzen might have “just done a line off his finger” because he may actually have.

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