Small school prospects stand out amongst combine's DBs
Stephon Gilmore's all-around solid day has maybe made him a late first-rounder
Josh Robinson's mechanics need work, but his athleticism is very impressive
Cliff Harris had a lot to prove after being dismissed by Oregon, but had a bad day
Defensive backs took the field Tuesday for the final day of combine workouts. More than a half-dozen NFL prospects cracked the 4.4-second markin the 40 on a day that saw several small school and lesser-known players stand out. Here's the final edition of risers and sliders from the 2012 combine.
Dwight Bentley, Louisiana Lafayette: Bentley was rated as a marginal free agent prospect entering the season, but continues to move up on draft boards. He topped off a good showing at the Senior Bowl with a terrific combine performance on Tuesday. Bentley's 40 times clocked in the mid-4.4-second range, and he looked terrific in drills. He displayed a quick, fluid backpedal with the ability to swiftly flip his hip. He practiced with good balance and showed solid ball skills. There's a dropoff in talent after the top four cornerbacks in April's draft, but Bentley could fill the void in the middle of the second round.
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech: The junior was one of the faster defensive backs at the combine, posting a 40 time of 4.47 seconds. Hosley showed that speed during drills, displaying a tremendous burst in every direction of the field and quickness in all his actions, staying balanced through it all. He's the most underrated cornerback in the 2012 class, and Hosley's workout should push him into the middle part of round two.
Morris Claiborne, LSU: His 40 time, which clocked 4.50, was not great, but Claiborne stood out during drills. The draft's top-rated cornerback looked athletic and smooth in all his movements. He easily flips his hips turning to run and loses no momentum changing direction. He's graceful on the field, showing both balance and body control. Despite not running a blinding 40 time, Claiborne locked himself up as a top-five pick in Indianapolis.
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina: Gilmore started the day with a quick 40 time of 4.40. His broad jump of 10 feet, 3 inches was also a solid mark. Gilmore looked fluid and smooth in all drills, displaying the ability to quickly change direction and stay balanced. Gilmore tracked the ball well in deep pass drills and showed terrific hands grabbing the ball from the air. He's now set himself up as a potential late-first-round pick.
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State: Robinson was one of the top safeties to perform on Tuesday. His 40 time clocked in the low 4.5-second range, his broad jump measured 12 feet, 5 inches and Robinson showed cornerback-type skills during drills. He was quick-footed in every direction and showed a terrific burst to the ball in every direction.
Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Fleming tested well, posting 40 times in the mid-4.4s while also completing an impressive 23 reps on the bench. During drills he looked quick-footed moving in reverse and lost little momentum changing direction. Fleming showed terrific ball skills and the ability to get skyward, then grab passes in mid-air. He was plagued with inconsistency and injury in college, but his combine workout proves he possesses the innate skills to play in the NFL.
Justin Bethel, Presbyterian: Bethel is a multi-purpose defensive back who can line up at safety or cornerback. Despite playing on a small-school level Bethel displayed big-time skills at the combine. He was smooth backpedaling off the line and fundamentally sound in defensive back drills. Bethel will be a solid pick at the start of the draft's final day for any team needing a dimeback.
Asa Jackson, Cal-Poly: Jackson is another small school defensive back who helped his cause at the combine. He ran a time in the upper 4.4s on his initial 40, then looked terrific during the practice session. Jackson displayed quickness and solid fundamentals in drills. He was fast moving in reverse, fluid changing direction and showed next-level balls skills. Jackson also adds the element of return specialist to his game and is headed into the middle rounds.
Ron Brooks, LSU: Brooks was not on the scouting radar when the year began, as he never started a game until his senior season at LSU. He displayed enough skill last year to get invited to the combine and showed NFL ability in Indianapolis. Brooks timed 4.35 on his initial 40, posted a vertical jump of 38 inches and continued his impressive performance by showing good ball skills during the drill session.
Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson's testing marks were off the charts. He was the fastest defensive back in attendance, running a 4.33 in the 40, the fastest of the defensive backs. His vertical jump hit 38.5 inches and the broad jump mark was 11 feet, 1 inch. Mechanically Robinson still has work to do, as he showed a lot of stiffness in drills and was often off balance. His sheer athleticism may be enough to sneak Robinson into the draft's second day, as scouts like his upside potential.
Sean Cattouse, California: Cattouse struggled to break 4.7 seconds in the 40 and showed marginal quickness during drills. His ball skills looked questionable, and Cattouse will drop into the late rounds.
Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris needed a big combine performance after being dismissed from the Oregon program last season, but failed to deliver. The slightly built corner struggled to run under 4.6 seconds in the 40, then showed poorly in ball drills, looking off balance and stiff.