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Defensive Backs Answer Some Questions, Leave Others

The NFL Combine had its final day of workouts, with defensive backs on the field. After the workouts, some questions were answered, but others weren't. Here's a look at some of the performances.


The final day of the 2013 NFL Combine brought a mixed bag of results for the defensive backs working out. Some guys surprised with how fast they are, while some guys surprised with how slowly they ran. Some guys will shoot up draft boards based on today's workouts, while others may soon find themselves falling to later rounds.

Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner ran a 4.37 second 40-yard dash, to pretty well end the hopes of some that he will fall to the Miami Dolphins at the 12th spot in April's Draft. Milliner will have shoulder surgery on March 12, with a recovery time of around two months, so theoretically his draft stock could take a slight dip. However, his workout today could make him a top five overall pick, and should guarantee he is selected in the top ten.

Washington's Desmond Trufant helped himself on the day, running a 4.38 second 40 yard dash, the third fastest among cornerbacks. He recorded 16 reps on the bench press, 37.5 inches on the vertical jump (tied for sixth among CBs), and had the second fastest 20-yard shuttle among all Combine participants, 3.85 seconds. Trufant will likely remain a second round pick, but could be sitting nicely for the Dolphins when the clock comes back to them on Draft Day 2.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro from Texas disappointed on the day. He has been projected as a possible target for the Dolphins in the first round, but he ran a slow 40, timing in at 4.63. He plays faster on the football field, recognizing angles and breaking on the ball well, but a 4.63 could not be what he wanted to run. The rest of his stats on the day were up and down, only recording 15 reps on the bench press and 121.0" on the broad jump, while recording the position best time in the 20-yard shuttle (4.06 seconds) and the sixth best vertical jump (38.0"). Vaccaro will probably still be a first day pick, but his performance could make teams in the top half of the first round shy away from him.

Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes should also be available for the Dolphins in the second round, running a 4.41 second 40 today. He also scored the top vertical jump for corners at 40.5 inches, and the top broad jump at the position (132.0").

The most interesting player hitting the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium today was former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. The "Honey Badger" has red flags all over him, stemming from at least one failed drug test, being kicked off the LSU football team, entering rehab in Houston, only to leave to return to school, then was arrested. Mathieu has been out of football for a year now, meaning he has had a year to do nothing but prepare for the NFL Combine. He apparently did not do that, putting up a 4.50 40 time and the worst bench press results at the position with 4 reps. With that much time to work out, Mathieu should have come in to the Combine ready to dominate, but that apparently didn't happen. He has talent with the ball in his hands. He may have to play as a kick and punt returner primarily, possibly seeing the field as a nickel-type corner. Is that enough to overcome those red flags?

Obviously, how big a need the Dolphins have in their secondary will be determined by what happens with Sean Smith. Do the Dolphins need to find two starting cornerbacks for next season, or will Smith return and fill one of those positions? Should the team take a corner in the first round, then look to double up in the second, or will waiting until the second, and addressing either pass rusher or wide receiver, be the right move?

Either way, the Combine may have added more questions about defensive backs than it answered.