The final day of the Combine is in the books and the high numbers were out in bunches yet again. Half of the 40 yard dashes had already been completed as the NFL Network’s coverage began. Though a majority of the coverage did not focus on the glamour event, the 40, much of day showed the positional scouting drills making for an exciting day to scout the players. Let’s dive right into it.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continued a spectacular offseason. He’s from no name Tennessee State, but has the publicity as Antonio Cromartie’s cousin. His skill set actually mirrors that of his older cousin. Both are tall and athletic with long arms and terrific ball skills. Dominique came out and posted one of the fastest times of the day, an official 4.33. At 6’2, he also posted the highest vertical leap (38.5 inches) and tied for the top number in the broad jump (10 feet, 11 inches). In the drills, many of the corners looked a little rough and choppy in the hip turns, but he looked fairly good for the most part and caught the ball at its peak.
The hottest non-Cromartie name would probably belong to that of Leodis McKelvin, widely considered to be the top corner in the upcoming draft. At 5’11, 190, McKelvin ran a blazing 4.38 40. He looked good in the rest of the drills and impressed all four of the men on set at the NFL Network, including former All-Pro and future Hall of Famer cornerback, Deion Sanders. He’s impressed everyone with his ability to get in and out of breaks quickly and fluently, which will make him one of the first corners taken in the first round. Perhaps just as important, rumor has it that he’s been acing interviews with superior football knowledge and great charisma.
South Florida’s Mike Jenkins has also been impressive in the workouts. It was supposed to be teammate Trae Williams who would steal the show in Indy, but it was actually Jenkins. Though he measured nearly two inches shorter than expected he also ran a 4.38, a few hundredths off of the top time. Jenkins is a very physical man-to-man corner who has the tools and mind required to play at the next level. It should be interesting to see where he fits in with the other guys in the class. If I had to venture a guess at this time, I’d say he’d be the second corner off the board behind McKelvin.
Antoine Cason was one of the bigger question marks coming into the Combine. There were differing opinions on how fast he’d time. Many thought he was a 4.4 guy while some thought he’d come in with a 4.5 or 4.6 time. Cason is a bigger corner who excels in zone coverage, but also has the versatility to play man. Cason came out with 20 strength reps and an unofficial 4.49 40 yard dash. While those may not appear as incredible numbers, couple it with great size and a great performance in the positional skill drills, his overall day Combine was quite impressive.
Aqib Talib, the corner out of Kansas, had a day that mirrored his season. It was very up and down. At 6’1, 202, Talib showed his athleticism with a sub-4.5 40 yard dash, a 38 inch vertical, and tied Rodgers-Cromartie for the best broad jump. On the flipside, he struggled a little in the drills not looking fluid at times. He didn’t match others with his ability to flip the hips. The bottom line is that he has unique ability, but will need some work around the edges to become a consistent, solid cornerback in the league.
Every day, it’s looking as if Kenny Phillips may need that same kind of polish. He looked very stiff in the hips and didn’t amaze scouts and fans with an incredible workout. Touted as the second coming of Ed Reed and Sean Taylor, Phillips hasn’t lived up to the billing on the field and now in the workouts. Once hailed as a top ten pick, he could now see himself slip into the second round, though a team like Green Bay would more than likely snatch him up if he was sitting at number 30.
Then there were two slower safeties that didn’t light up the Combine, but looked good just about everywhere else. First is Boston College’s Jamie Silva who I believe ran in the 4.8’s. His speed is not a great indicator of his range. He’s very intelligent and diagnoses plays quickly. He’s strong against the run and looks like a playmaker in the secondary. Silva even looked good in the hips today, where many guys struggled. If only he ran in the 4.5 range, he would more than likely be a second round selection. At this speed, he’ll probably be a day two guy. Then there was Alabama cornerback Simeon Castille who ran an unofficial 4.72 40 yard dash. At that speed he has no future at cornerback, but teams will follow the recent trend and move him to free safety. In the drills, Castille looked among the smoothest coming in and out of breaks. His hips, probably the biggest thing on the day, also looked very fluent. He could be someone in the mold of a Tanard Jackson, though scouts will have to watch more tape to see how well the kid can hit.