The biggest knock on Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard was his supposed lack of speed. Dennard took steps -- or, rather, runs -- toward alleviating those concerns Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Dennard (5-foot-11, 199 pounds) turned in an official clocking of 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Dennard is considered the most physical of the top-tier corners, and showing better-than-expected speed could impress scouts.
The issue, though, is that Dennard was slower than the others in the mix to be the top corner. The fastest among the top quartet was Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert (6-0, 202), who turned in a 4.37 clocking. Gilbert isn't nearly as physical as Dennard, but he does double as an excellent return man.
Dennard -- who won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football's best defensive back -- and Gilbert are considered the two top corners available. NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock likes Dennard best, and he said Dennard's 40 would be the most important run Tuesday because "the only question is long speed." He said Dennard "needed something with a 4.4 attached to it." When he heard Dennard ran a 4.51, Mayock said, "Close enough."
TCU's Jason Verrett ran a 4.38, and Roby's official time was a 4.39.
Verrett had the best vertical jump of the quartet, at 39 inches. Roby was at 38.5 inches and Gilbert at 35.5. Dennard didn't participate in the vertical jump.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.