Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is spotlighting the prospects who make a mark -- for better or worse -- at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. On Monday, the defensive backs took the field. Here are Brooks' impressions from Indianapolis:
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State: The top-rated defensive back in the draft confirmed his status as a world-class athlete with spectacular football skills at the combine on Monday. Ramsey posted impressive measurements (a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, a 41.5-inch vertical jump and an 11-3 broad jump) for a big-bodied safety (Ramsey checks in at 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds) with long arms. In addition, the Florida State standout displayed outstanding quickness and fluidity in a variety of position drills designed to showcase his footwork and movement skills. With Ramsey's résumé full of splash plays and knockout hits, he cemented his reputation as a top-five talent with his strong performance.
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida: There's no disputing Hargreaves' status as the top cover corner in the draft after a solid performance on the turf. Despite posting an average 40 time (4.50 seconds), the Florida standout displayed spectacular footwork, quickness and movement skills in positional drills. Hargreaves is one of the few cornerbacks capable of executing every technique in the book, which makes him a valuable commodity as a potential CB1.
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Apple is penciled in as the third corner in this draft class after answering questions about his long speed and ball skills at the combine. The long, rangy cover corner posted a 4.40 40 and showed impressive acceleration running down the track. In the position workout, Apple displayed outstanding footwork, balance and body control executing turns and transitions on the turf. He also flashed sticky hands and impressive ball skills snagging passes in drills. Given Apple's size, competitiveness and movement skills, he is a certain first-round pick in this draft class.
William Jackson III, CB, Houston: Jackson sufficiently answered any questions about his speed and explosiveness with a terrific workout, blazing a 4.37 40 and showing terrific short-area quickness while crushing the position drills. Jackson's fluid movement skills, sticky hands and physical dimensions (he's 6-0 and 189 pounds) make him in an intriguing candidate at the bottom of the first round. If he continues to impress at his pro day in a few weeks, he could leapfrog some notable names on the draft board.
Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama: Jones is rarely mentioned as one of the top cover corners in the draft, but he is certainly generating buzz in the scouting community due to his steady overall game. The Alabama standout checked all of the boxes (speed, footwork, movement skills and hands) during the workout, exhibiting the agility and technical skills that coaches covet in nickel corners. Jones flawlessly executes turns and transitions in space while also displaying exceptional balance and body control in drills. Not to mention, Jones catches the ball effortlessly on punt returns and looks like a potential two-phase contributor as a young player.
Darian Thompson, S, Boise State: Thompson was trending as a top-50 pick following a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, but he likely will see his draft stock plummet after posing a pedestrian 40 time (4.69 seconds) in Indianapolis. Top safety prospects are expected to run in the 4.55-to-4.65 range, and Thompson's time puts him in danger of falling out of the top tier. The sub-standard 40 will lead to questions about his range and effectiveness as a deep-middle player.
Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah: It's hard to find a place in the league for box safeties with speed deficiencies. Thus, Killebrew's status as a top pick at the position is in jeopardy due to his underwhelming 4.65 40. While the time (barely) falls within the desired range listed above, Killebrew's lack of explosive agility and short-area quickness in positional drills could temper coaches' enthusiasm about his potential as a hybrid player. He simply lacks the swivel hips and nimble feet to play effectively in space, which makes him a potential liability as a front-line starter.