With the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine winding down, my look at the safest prospects at each position concludes with defensive backs.
At the cornerback position, there's little safety. You're constantly under attack by opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Ridicule is likely to come from the stands, and film-room sessions on bad days will not be fun. It's a lonely spot.
However, the best corners have a short memory and supreme confidence in their own talent -- which is great, because on some Sundays, no one else will. Athletes that are ready to come back after a tough play are the ones I'm considering as the safest corner picks.
These three cornerbacks are my safe bets in the 2016 draft class. As with every position group in this series, there is a mix of top-rated prospects and others for whom I project a long NFL career without the early-round hype.
1. Vernon Hargreaves, Florida: He isn't the biggest corner, but he measured a bit taller and heavier than expected at 5-10 1/2, 205 pounds. He plays with the tenacity, mixing it up with any receiver in his vicinity. His 10 career interceptions and 28 pass breakups (in just three years) prove that his ball skills are legitimate, and his quickness is obvious, whether he's staying with receivers in short areas or returning an interception or kickoff return. He will be a playmaker in the NFL.
2. Jalen Mills, LSU: LSU is known for supplying NFL teams with defensive backs, and Mills is next in the distinguished pipeline. He isn't a physical freak like Patrick Peterson or a major-league playmaker like Tyrann Mathieu. But he started 13 games as a true freshman, and would have started every game of his career in one of the top defensive back groups in the country if not for a preseason ankle injury last fall. He could shift to safety during his career, but I like his physicality and agility against larger NFL receivers on the outside. And if he does switch positions, he'll be a long-time starter at safety.
3. Harlan Miller, Southeastern Louisiana: It doesn't matter to me at what school he played -- Miller is a flat-out baller. The two-time All-American at the FCS level consistently made quarterbacks pay for mistakes (11 INT, 22 PBU) during his four years as a starter. Though he's on the slight side at a shade under 6-foot, 182 pounds, Miller was feisty at the Reese's Senior Bowl, showing that he wasn't intimidated by competition from major college football. Though he won't be picked as early as others with a higher "ceiling", his ferocity and ball skills should translate to the next level.