The NFL Combine officially ended Tuesday when the defensive back were put through their paces at the Lucas Oil Can.
And there are varying opinions of players that improved their stock and those whose stock dropped like Toyota, including this view from Sports Illustrated.
Here we've got our own personal scout and Chris Cordero watched the drills and delivered this assessment of what he saw:
Eric Berry continues to impress putting his explosiveness on display with a very good 4.47 40-yard dash and an astonishing 43-inch vertical leap and great broad jump of 10-10. Not only did he display excellent athleticism but showed the footwork of a premier CB. He also showed premier ball skills. A two-time captain for the Volunteers he was only seven yards from breaking the NCAA record for return yardage. This guy's a playmaker in the mold of Ed Reed (although that sounds like _ blasphemy). He is the 3rd best player in the draft on my board and if he is there at #12, there is no question whom the Dolphins should select - regardless of how they feel about Gibril Wilson.
Earl Thomas was impressive. Coming in 12 pounds heavier than his regular playing weight and still running a 4.49 40-yard dash is big. He is another player that has CB skills at the safety position - displaying excellent footwork and good ball skills (though he did drop a ball on one drill that I saw). He looked fluid in his backpedal and turning and opening his hips to run with the receiver. He also displayed good upper body strength with 21 reps in the bench. He is a Top 15 talent in this deep draft; and at only 20 years old he should get better. Among the nation's leaders in interceptions and passes defended, he is a playmaker and would allow a defense many options with his supreme coverage skills. Should be in the conversation at #12.
Taylor Mays, outside of Maryland OT Bruce Campbell, might have been the most impressive athlete here. Going in, it was known that he would excel in the physical drills and he did not disappoint - blazing a 4.43 (and I think it was faster than that) at 6-3 and 230 pounds. However, he did not look sudden or quick in drills, did not display good ball skills, and had trouble opening up his hips and running. Due to his height he also has trouble staying low in his backpedal. On physical skills alone, he is a Top 5 talent but we have seen players like Mike Mamula and Vernon Gholston come in and light up the combine, get drafted very high, and not accomplish much in the pros (to be fair Gholston still has time). I give Mays a 2nd round grade due to his lack of coverage instincts for the position and could see him ending up at LB -- much like Thomas Davis of Carolina. Make no mistake, however, he will go in the 1st round and maybe as high as to the Raiders or to his former college coach with the Seahawks. But I see that as a reach.
Major Wright of Florida impressed me with his footwork in coverage drills. I had questions as to whether he could cover the deep third and felt as though he might be better off as an in-the-box strong safety type. But he took a step to answer those questions here at the combine. Timing at under 4.49 in the 40 was also impressive. He had a lot of talent around him on that Florida defense and that helped mask some of his deficiences on film. He had some trouble turning and running with fluidity of his hips, but overall was more impressive than I expected. I currently give him a 3rd round grade and see him as more of a strong safety type with the ability to cover backs and tight ends and some range in the deep secondary.
Two possible cornerback converts that stood out were Chris Cook (who was impressive in the Senior Bowl and reminds me of Sean Smith) and Myron Lewis. Cook stood out as an explosive athlete with the best broad jump of the combine at 11 feet and a 4.46 in the 40. He also flashed good footwork and fluidity in drills for a 6-2 CB and appears to be able to make the transition to safety. I give him a 3rd round grade. Lewis tested almost as well, running a 4.48 with a 10 and a half inch broad jump. However, he did not look nearly as fluid in drills and had trouble flipping his hips to turn and run -- meaning he would be better served by beginning the transition to safety from the get go. I give him a 4th round grade as he was a solid performer in the SEC for 3 years.
Two prospects that attended the combine but did not participate due to injury were Nate Allen and Morgan Burnett. Allen, who was very impressive at the Senior Bowl, is a player I feel can step in and lead a secondary for years. I give him a high 2nd round grade. Burnett, who has very good size and was among the NCAA leaders in interceptions two years ago as a sophomore, gets a 3rd round grade from me. I worry about his movement skills at the NFL level and feel that a talented front 7 at Georgia Tech helped mask some of his faults. His pro day will answer some of those questions.
The majority of the other safeties were In-the-box, strong safety types who lacked the fluidity and coverage instincts on film to cover the deep 3rd of the secondary. The Dolphins more likely do not want another Gibril Wilson situation with two strong safety types in the deep seconday. One guy that flashed some versatility was Darrell Stuckey of Kansas. He showed good speed and overall athleticism and had decent footwork and fluidity in coverage drills. I have him in the 4th round.