Need for Speed: Top Defensive Backs Rise and Fall on Forty Times on Tuesday
Tuesday’s Combine was all about speed as the defensive backs took the field in a relatively uneventful day at the combine.
The headliner for the day was Alabama’s Dee Milliner who, despite great size, ran a blazing 4.37 forty cementing his status as a top ten pick. Milliner, who will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in the coming weeks, could get looked at by the Raiders, Eagles, and Lions at #3, #4, and #5 after his run on Tuesday answered questions about his top end speed.
Milliner was outdone, however, by Darius Slay whose 4.36 run may have elevated him to second round status. His teammate, fellow Mississippi State Bulldog Johnathan Banks who I believe is the second best corner from a skills standpoint ran a disappointing 4.61 which may drop him to the second round.
Meanwhile, Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) and Desmond Trufant (Washington) may have secured first round status with a 4.43 and 4.38 respectively. Additionally, Jamar Tayler (Boise St.) ran a 4.39 and Brandon McGee who ran a 4.4 likely improved their stick as well.
Tyrann Mathieu, eager to prove to teams that he is a changed man, ran a 4.5. The Heisman contender in 2011, showed he still has the speed, however, he will have to overcome concerns about his size and, more important, his ability to “Just Say No.”
At the safety position, Eric Reid (LSU) ran the best of the top safeties posting a 4.53. Florida’s Matt Elam was just behind Reid at 4.54, and I continue to believe he is the best safety of the draft. Kenny Vaccaro from Texas, widely considered the top safety, only mustered a 4.63. It will be worth watching to see if Elam overtakes Vaccaro in the perception category.