Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is spotlighting the prospects who make a mark -- for better or worse -- at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. On Monday, the defensive backs took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are Brooks' impressions from Indianapolis:
Derwin James, S, Florida State: James could experience a resurgence in draft buzz, given the final copy of measurements and athletic numbers the second-team AP All-American gave scouts at the combine. The versatile defender blazed a 4.47-second 40-yard dash to go along with a 40-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump. Although evaluators expected him to be one of the athletic freaks at the position, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound hybrid safety exceeded expectations by showing quick feet and smooth movement skills in positional drills. With some teams reportedly considering James as a "big" cornerback, this spectacular showing could elevate him back into top-15 consideration.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: The energetic playmaker helped himself with a strong workout that showcased his impressive combination of speed, athleticism and skill. Alexander not only ran an explosive 4.38-second 40-yard dash, but he lit up position drills while showing outstanding footwork and movement skills. He is as natural as they come at the position in terms of executing a backpedal and "break and drive" movements. In addition, Alexander displayed exceptional hands and ball skills while snagging passes in positional drills. Considering how much defensive coaches value versatile cornerbacks (slot and outside), the Louisville standout is firmly in the Day 1 conversation.
Tony Brown, CB, Alabama: The former high school track standout and five-star recruit showcased his exceptional athleticism in a workout that included a blistering 4.35-second 40-yard dash. Brown not only lit up the track with his straight-line speed, but he showed better-than-anticipated footwork and movement skills in positional drills. As one of the most explosive athletes in this CB class, Brown has a chance to come off the board on Day 2 as a special teams demon/developmental prospect with an intriguing set of physical tools.
Justin Reid, S, Stanford: The Cardinal standout has quietly been climbing up the charts in the pre-draft process, and that ascension will only accelerate following his strong workout on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. Reid ran an impressive 4.40-second 40-yard dash and exhibited outstanding explosiveness with a solid jet of jumps (36.5-inch vert, 10-foot-8 broad). He followed it up with a solid positional workout that showcased his quick feet and superb body control. Although his ball skills are suspect, based on his pass-catching struggles, Reid looks like an intriguing option as a top-40 pick.
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: The ball-hawking safety entered the weekend with a chance to claim the No. 1 spot on the cornerback chart, but a disappointing workout will make it tougher for the Hawkeye to seize the crown. Posting a pedestrian 4.56-second 40, Jackson also disappointed scouts with his movement skills and unpolished backpedal in drills. He didn't look comfortable with his turns and transitions, and his upright stance could be an issue as a young player. While most scouts will trust the evaluations compiled off film study, this disappointing showing is a definite setback for the potential first-rounder heading into the pro day circuit.
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State: Any shot of the Florida State product surging up the charts went by the wayside when he recorded a 4.67 40-yard dash. McFadden's sluggish time confirmed scouts fears of his speed deficiencies, and this makes him a tougher sell to coaches seeking press corners. While his biggest supporters in the meeting rooms will point to his strong 2016 campaign as a sign of his potential, it will be hard for coaches to ignore a high-4.6 when pondering draft-day options at cornerback.