The NFL Scouting Combine runs Feb. 17-23 in Indianapolis, and it brings together 323 of the nation's most draftable players and numerous front-office representatives and scouts from each NFL team.
A big portion of the combine is the individual events, such as the 40-yard dash, the bench press and the vertical jump.
This is part seven of our position-by-position look at the combine, spotlighting defensive backs. We look at six prospects who will be scrutinized this year and also look at noteworthy event performances in the past five combines. We'll also look at how notable current corners and safeties performed in their combine events.
Six to watch this year
FS Chris Hackett, TCU: Alabama's Landon Collins is the clear-cut No. 1 safety and is seen as a first-round lock. So who's the No. 2 safety? That's a good question, and Hackett could be in the discussion for some teams. He turned pro a year early after a sterling 2014 campaign, when he led the Horned Frogs with seven interceptions (tied for third nationally) and was fourth on the team with 75 tackles. Hackett (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) was a three-year starter for the defense-savvy Horned Frogs, who use a 4-2-5 set, and finished his career with 12 interceptions, 16 pass breakups, 224 tackles, and five forced fumbles. The biggest issue is a perceived lack of top-end speed; thus, his 40 time will be important. He should do well in the other drills.
CB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest: Johnson toiled for one of the weakest Power Five programs in the nation, but scouts know all about him. His height (he's listed at 6-1) is a plus. But he also is listed at 175 pounds and needs to add weight and bulk. NFL Media analyst Lance Zeirlein says Johnson is "very natural in man coverage" and can be "disruptive in press coverage." He should test well at the combine, though it will be interesting to see his 40 time. Also interesting will be his official weigh-in: How much does he weigh? There is no clear-cut pecking order among the corners, so the combine likely will help teams further establish their lists. Johnson wouldn't mind cementing a spot among the top five at the position.
CB Marcus Peters, Washington: Peters might be the best corner available, but there are red flags flying -- not the least of which is that he was dismissed from the team during the season. Zeirlein says Peters (6-0, 198) is a "talented cover cornerback with size, ball skills and the confidence NFL teams are looking for, but (he) lacks the necessary discipline and maturity on the field and in practice." At the combine, Peters needs to show up, keep his head down and blow teams away with his work in the drills. He almost certainly will be downgraded by most (every?) team because of character issues, but, hey, at least he can make it difficult for teams to do that with a strong combine showing.
CB Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio) : He's one of the most interesting stories in the draft. He was a four-year starter at point guard for the RedHawks' basketball team before deciding to try his hand at football as a senior. Rollins had a fabulous season, being named the MAC's defensive player of the year after coming up with seven interceptions, nine pass breakups, 72 tackles, and four tackles for loss; the seven interceptions tied for third nationally. Yes, he is raw. But he also has good size at 5-11 and 193 pounds and looks to have the necessary traits to be a top-flight cornerback. "His ability to change gears instantly gives him a chance to develop into a talented cover cornerback," Zierlein says. His 40 time and work in the drills are being eagerly anticipated by personnel folks.
CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State: Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard was a first-round pick last year; this year, Waynes seems likely to go in the first round. Michigan State has its corners take on different roles; Waynes was the Spartans' "field" corner in 2013, and the field corner defends the wide side of the field on each play. He replaced Dennard as the Spartans' boundary corner in 2014. Waynes (6-1, 182) has good length and is comfortable in bump-and-run coverage. As with Dennard coming out of college, Waynes is too "hands-on" for some observers, but that is the way Michigan State corners are coached. Waynes is in the running to be the first corner off the board, and a strong combine obviously would help his cause. Dennard ran a 4.51 in the 40 last year; can Waynes beat that?
CB P.J. Williams, Florida State: Williams (6-0, 196) is another who could be in the mix to be the first corner off the board. He has good size and bulk, and plays a physical brand of ball. Zeirlein calls him "a bump-and-run specialist," and his 40 time will be closely monitored. Williams says he is "going to put on a show" at the combine. Fellow FSU CB Ronald Darby seems likely to have the better 40 time, but it's not a stretch to think Williams can run under 4.4 seconds. And with Williams weighing almost 200 pounds, that would open some eyes.
Combine bests over past five years
4t. CB Bene Benwikere, San Jose State
Jump: 40.5 inches in 2014
Draft status: 5th round, Carolina Panthers
1. CB Donald Washington, Ohio State
Numbers: 11 feet, 3 inches in 2009
Draft status: 4th round, Kansas City
2t. CB Darius Butler, Connecticut
Numbers: 11 feet, 2 inches in 2009
Draft status: 2nd round, New England
2t. FS Eric Reid, LSU
Numbers: 11 feet, 2 inches in 2013
Draft status: 1st round (18th overall), San Francisco
2t. SS Earl Wolff, North Carolina State
Numbers: 11 feet, 2 inches in 2013
Draft status: 5th round, Philadelphia
5t. CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood (Mo.)
Numbers: 11 feet, 1 inch in 2014
Draft status: 4th round, Cleveland
5t. SS Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse
Numbers: 11 feet, 1 inch in 2013
Draft status: 4th round, Pittsburgh
1. SS Kevin Ellison, USC
Numbers: 32 reps in 2009
Draft status: 6th round, San Diego
2t. FS Lucien Antoine, Oklahoma State
Numbers: 28 reps in 2010
Draft status: Undrafted