The cornerback workouts were disappointing, but the safeties made up for it
The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books.
After an incredible day of workouts on Sunday, hopes were high for the defensive backs on Monday. Unfortunately, several of the top prospects failed to live up to the hype on the field. But as always happens, there were also several under-the-radar prospects who gave scouts a reason to go back to their film.
That the top prospects disappointed is bad news for a New York Giants team which could be in desperate need of help in their secondary. However, they might have also been put on the trail of some potential value picks. So, which defensive backs helped themselves, and who might have given scouts pause?
Jamel Dean (Auburn) – Dean has medical red flags for knee injuries dating back from high school through 2016. He was originally recruited by Ohio State but was ruled medically ineligible. Dean eventually enrolled in Auburn and helped himself Monday by running a 4.31 second 40-yard dash and showing very well in the field drills. His medical check-up was the most important part of his week in Indy, but his workout likely made teams feel better about potentially taking a risk on him.
Jordan Brown (South Dakota State) – A player nobody was talking about at the national level prior to the Combine, but a workout that included a 4.51 second 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical, and 10-foot 8 inch broad jump will send scouts looking for his tape. He isn’t the longest corner, but also showed some promising fluidity and ball skills in the field drills.
Sean Bunting (Central Michigan) – Every day of the Combine a small-school prospect has stepped up and made his presence known. One of those players from Monday’s workouts was Sean Bunting of Central Michigan. Teams in search of big, long press-man cornerbacks will take an interest in Bunting. He wasn’t the smoothest corner, but his size and ball skills will get teams interested.
Isaiah Johnson (Houston) – Another big, long press-man corner who transitioned from wide receiver to cornerback. Johnson ran well and looked good in field drills. Both James Bettcher and Dave Gettleman have shown a preference for cornerbacks with long arms, and Johnson had among the longest in the cornerback group at 33 inches.
David Long (Michigan) – At 5-foot-10, Long is probably a slot corner at the next level, but he as the quickness to hang with receivers and the physicality to deal with running backs who motion to the slot. He was one of the quickest receivers in drills and had one of the best times in the 40 yard dash. Long made himself some money on Monday.
Justin Layne (Michigan State) – Another converted wide receiver, Layne has only been a cornerback since 2016. He ran well, and showed a remarkably smooth player for a tall (6-foot-2) corner. Unsurprisingly, he showed good ball skills in those field drills which simulated intercepting the ball. He is still new to the position and has upside as he continues to learn the nuances of playing cornerback.
Rock Ya-Sin (Temple) – In what was a disappointing morning for the cornerbacks, Rock Ya-Sin stood out. He ran well enough, though he didn’t have “blazing” speed with a 4.51 second 40-yard dash, but his feet and hips are good enough to hang in press-man coverage and he has the physicality to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt routes.
Ugochukwu Amadi (Oregon) – Ugo Amadi got people’s attention by opening the safety group with a 4.52 second 40-yard dash. He had 18 reps on the bench press, letting scouts know that he definitely knows the way to the weight room and was also among the most fluid safeties in the field drills. Amadi might be a little short at 5-foot-9, but he has upside as a free safety who can also defend the slot.
Darnell Savage Jr. (Maryland) – Savage wasn’t a name bandied about before the combine, but he had a legitimately explosive workout, running a 4.36 second 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical, and 10-foot 6 inch broad jump. He was solid in field drills and should earn a look from teams looking for a free safety with the ability to defend in man coverage.
The cornerbacks as a whole – To quote Charles Davis on the NFL Network broadcast this is a “safety heavy” class. By that he means that the cornerback group did not run well, with several struggling with tightness in field drills. As good as the front seven prospects looked on Sunday, the corners were disappointing.
Greedy Williams (LSU) – Williams started his day strong with a 4.37 40-yard dash, but it was downhill from there for the player who is at the top of many cornerback boards. Williams looked tight-hipped and out of control in many of the field drills. His day later ended early after reportedly suffering cramps. If Williams had followed his 40 up with strong field work he could have confirmed his status atop the cornerback depth chart and a top-10 pick. However, all he did was create doubt.
Deandre Baker (Georgia) – Baker is another prospect who entered the year as a potential top prospect, but didn’t take the next step which was expected from him. Likewise, his work on Monday was expected to be good, but was probably best described as “okay”.
D’Cota Dixon (Wisconsin) – Dixon is a safety, but even so it is not good to have a 40 time that would be slow for a linebacker. He had the top performance on the bench press, which suggests that he might have to try to convert to linebacker at the next level, but at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds, that seems unlikely.