INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine has officially concluded, but scouts are still talking about the impressive collection of defensive backs that was on the field Tuesday. Evaluators saw several standout performances that certainly enhanced the value of several top prospects at the cornerback position. Scouts will keep these performances in perspective as they continue the overall evaluation process, tweaking their reports to better reflect the athleticism and talent of a handful of elite prospects. With that thought in mind, I've put together a list of guys who stood out to me on Day 4 of the combine:
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: The top-rated corner answered all of the questions about his speed and quickness with a remarkable workout at Lucas Oil Stadium. Milliner posted a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and demonstrated better-than-anticipated explosiveness with solid measurements in the vertical and broad jump. Additionally, Milliner displayed outstanding footwork and movement skills in the positional drills. He smoothly executed transitions and turns in space, showing excellent balance and body control. Although Milliner didn't cleanly field every ball that went his way, he sufficiently addressed any concerns about his ball skills and tracking ability.
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: The prospect formerly known as "Honey Badger" created some positive momentum with his standout performance at the combine. Mathieu certainly surprised evaluators with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. Not only was his time adequate for the position, it indicated that he is a more explosive athlete than most expected him to be after watching him on tape. Mathieu also surprised scouts with his solid footwork and fundamentals in positional drills. He gilded in and out of transitions while displaying exceptional hands and ball skills. Additionally, he shagged punts effortlessly after the workout, showcasing natural hands and awareness when tracking the ball. While character concerns could certainly overshadow Mathieu's talent and productivity, the fact that he shined on the field in Indy could raise his stock on most draft boards across the league.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington: Trufant had been considered a fringe first-round prospect following the Senior Bowl, but a strong showing in Indianapolis now has him firmly entrenched in the conversation. He blazed a 4.38 40, displaying exceptional speed and acceleration. Additionally, Trufant popped impressive measurements in the vertical (37.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-5). Scouts were already convinced Trufant possesses the requisite cover skills to be a solid starter as a pro; the rest of the workout confirmed his movement skills as a borderline blue-chip talent.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: It is hard to find corners with size, speed and athleticism, which is why Rhodes' impressive combine workout has scouts salivating. Rhodes measured in at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, answering any questions about his top-end speed and likely solidifying his status as a mid-first-round selection. Additionally, Rhodes logged 14 reps on the bench press while posting a 40.5-inch vertical jump and an 11-0 broad jump. Factor in his solid display of movement skills in positional drills and Rhodes becomes an intriguing "shutdown" corner candidate on most draft boards across the league.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Banks suffered through a miserable workout in front of a sizable contingent of coaches, scouts and general managers. The Mississippi State star ran a pedestrian 4.61-second 40-yard dash, logged just 10 reps on the bench press and failed to display impressive movement skills in the positional workout. The combination of disappointing numbers raised more questions about Banks' ability to keep up with explosive receivers on the perimeter. Although Banks still has an opportunity to make amends at his pro day in a few weeks, he will certainly see his stock dip a little after the combine.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas: Vaccaro was expected to leave Indianapolis as one of the combine's top performers. However, scouts will certainly come away a little disappointed by the Texas star's marginal 40-time (4.63). Although his numbers aren't likely to drastically affect his status on draft boards across the league, they'll certainly alter the perception of Vaccaro entering the NFL as a hybrid safety with corner-like skills. Defensive coordinators will hesitate before tagging Vaccaro as a versatile playmaker, which will decrease his value as a top pick. Vaccaro's Texas pro day doesn't take place for a few weeks; he needs to refine his technique and post impressive times in the 40 to regain his status as a mid-first round consideration.
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