« February 25, 2013 | Main | February 27, 2013 »

3 posts from February 26, 2013

February 26, 2013

The official 40 times for the defensive backs

You saw what the unofficial times were for the defensive backs in the last post. Now for the official combine 40-yard dash times for the defensive backs:

Cornerbacks:

Johnthan Banks, Miss. St. 4.61

Dee Milliner, Alabama      4.37

Brandon McGee, UM         4.40

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU       4.50

Terry Hawthorne, Ill.      4.44

Sanders Commings UGA   4.41

David Amerson, NC ST.    4.44

Robert Alford, So. La.     4.39

Johnny Adams, Mich. St. 4.48

Xavier Rhodes, FSU         4.43

Darius Slay, Miss. St.       4.36

Jamar Taylor, Boise St.   4.39

Desmond Trufant, Wash.  4.38

Steve Williams, Cal.        4.42

Safeties

Matt Elam, UF               4.54

Eric Reid, LSU               4.53

Kenny Vaccaro, Tex.      4.63

Shamarko Thomas, Syr.  4.42

Earl Wolff, NC. St.         4.44

You'll notice the official times vary from the unofficial times. Indeed, the unofficial numbers were supplied to the NFL Network, which is inside the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, by former NFL GM Charley Casserly. Those are his hand times.

The official times are the ones that count. And the numbers above are the fastest a player posted.

Now, you are aware I'm not a huge fan of 40-yard dast times relative to a player's ability to actually play football. I want football players, not track stars.

But as defensive backs must show speed and quickness, these times are quite relevant to the job. Speed is one of the critical factors for a defensive back, as are ball skills, hands, durability, etc ...

That and the fact the Dolphins are likely to need a defensive back in the draft and need him relatively early enough so that he has a chance to start, I'm posting these players and their times whereas I didn't do that for other positions.

I'd say Vaccaro's time, and in fact his entire day, was something of a disappointment because he wasn't exactly smooth in other drills, either.

Rhodes didn't hurt himself. Banks didn't help himself and there are now questions about him. Both are still top of the second round type guys, in my opinion.

The guys that ran exceedingly fast or the ones that disappointed will cause teams to go back and re-study their tape. Banks is in that group, as are Slay, Vaccaro, Williams and Trufant -- for different reasons, of course.

Good-bye Milliner but Banks in Dolphins wheelhouse

Well, you can forget about Dee Milliner falling to the No. 12 pick in the first round. The Alabama cornerback, the best defensive back prospect in the draft, had a fine season and today put an exclamation point on his season with an excellent combine performance.

Most impressive for Milliner was his 40-yard dash time, which came in at an unofficial 4.31. [I'll update with the official time when it comes out]. All this practically guarantees Milliner will not make it out of the top 10.

"I thought I was going to run a 4.2," Milliner told the NFL Network.

Milliner struggled with his ball skills. He had trouble catching the ball. But his play at Alabama will override that. He will not participate in the Alabama Pro Day because he's about to have shoulder surgery and will be out two months so he's done until the draft.

The Dolphins have a need at cornerback but they have the No. 12 overall selection. Only way they get a chance at Milliner is to trade up.

Barring that ... bye-bye, Dee.

Today's workouts for defensive backs did, however, present other possibilities for the Dolphins later in the draft. Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks was disappointing with a 4.59 hand timed 40-yard dash. Terrible. Excellent!

Yes, it's bad for Banks because suddenly he's not the late first-round pick he might have been had he run well. But it's good for the Dolphins because he's still a good player and now he might be in their second-round wheelhouse.

Banks can still turn the speed numbers around at his Pro Day.

I like him. He's got great ball skills. He's 6-2. He likes to hit, he supports on the run. He can play off and still recover. He's simply a very solid football player.

[Update: FSU's Xavier Rhodes, another second-round possibility, turned in a 4.41 in the 40. Good. He had the same time his second attempt but seemed to tweak a hamstring. Rhodes needs to be more a go-hard all the time guy to be effective in the NFL. Motor is a question. By the way, Deion Sanders echoed that. The former FSU guy said of the other former FSU guy: "He chilled a little bit. I need to see him realy go 100. He took it easy a little bit."]

[Update:  Washington's Desmond Trufant, another second-round guy, ran a 4.31 unofficially and that ties Milliner for the fastest time. He had a 4.38 on his second run.]

The talk of the day -- at least on the NFL Network -- was the showing by red flag machine Tyrann Mathieu, the former LSU player known as the Honey Badger.

Mathieu, who didn't play in 2012 because he was kicked off the team for various offenses including at least one positive drug test, impressed with a 4.43 unofficial time in the 40-yard dash.

That's good. He needed it because earlier Mathieu had only four reps on the bench press of 225 pounds. As Mike Mayock articulated, Mathieu wasn't on a team all last year but he couldn't get in the weight room or a gym and make sure he could survive a test he knew was coming?

Raises questions about his work ethic.

Mathieu has other questions as well. He's only 5-8. That's a problem as only two starting cornerbacks in the NFL are that short.

The kid is more a special teamer and perhaps a slot cornerback. He has great, great ball skills -- perhaps the best of the class -- but again, he's the personification of (red) Flag Day.

Would I draft Mathieu?

Of course!

But not earlier than the fifth or sixth round.

A player I truly, truly like is safety Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International here in Miami. He didn't run the 40 due to a hamstring injury. He did the drills. He was good, not great.

Keep an eye on him. He's likely a second round pick as well and the Dolphins could use a safety upgrade, particularly with Chris Clemons being a free agent.

[Update: Kenny Vaccaro, who some draft gurus have him in the first round and even as high as No. 12, ran a disappointing 4.59 on his first attempt. And then it got worse on his second attempt at 4.63. He'll have a chance to improve on that. Vaccaro plays faster than that because he takes great angles and is very, very smart. But ...]

[Update: CB Steve Williams of Cal just turned in the fastest unofficial time for the DBs at 4.25. He ran a 4.34 on his second attempt. I can see personnel men around the NFL saying they need to go back to the tape of this prospect.]

All these times are unofficial so check back for the official times.

Patterson talked to media and Dolphins at Indy

And while we're on the topic of wide receivers, both coming out of college and in free agency, let me address Cordarrelle Patterson here.

While at the Indianapolis combine he met with the Dolphins. He's living in South Florida now.

The Dolphins need a big-play wide receiver. Patterson runs like a deer and has shown ability to get deep. General manager Jeff Ireland loves big wide receivers. Patterson is 6-2 and 215 pounds.

Do you get all the connections?

I get it, too. It kind of makes sense for a team with the No. 12 overall selection that perhaps Patterson is a fit in so many different ways.

But I cannot tell you I love the kid at No. 12. He's not Julio Jones, although he says that is who he patterns himself after. He's not A.J. Green, either. He reminds more of Darrius Heyward-Bey or Kenny Britt. He's also very raw.

There is another thing: Patterson went the junior college route before going to Tennessee in 2012. Why? Well, Patterson struggled to keep up academically at times. Thus there are questions about how quickly Patterson will recognize coverages and learn plays and adjustments in the NFL.

The Dolphins run a fairly complex offensive system and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman last year had no compunction about leaving behind young players that didn't learn quickly and play fast enough as a result of the uncertainty in their heads. Tight end Michael Egnew comes to mind.

Even veteran Jabar Gaffney struggled to pick up Miami's system.

Well, it could be argued, Patterson learned quickly enough at Tennessee to burst on the scene quickly. But that isn't completely correct. He was expected to be the Vols third WR but was actually thrust into greater playing time out of necessity when teammate Da'Rick Rogers was kicked off the team.

There are also questions about Patterson being a one-year flash rather than a consistent performer.

Anyway, Patterson spoke to the media at the combine. This is how it went:

(On path to Indy): "It was a good path, man. I had to go to junior college and ended up at Tennessee.
I wouldn’t change it for nothing. Everyplace I went, I enjoyed every second of it."

(On whether JUCO in Hutchinson, Kansas was tough): "Oh, yeah, there were a lot of times I doubted because I had to leave high school and go all the way to Hutchinson in Kansas. I would call my mom every day and ask her if she still thought I needed to do this and she said, ‘Yeah, it’s been your
dream for a long time so just make sure you stick with it."

(On the season at Tennessee): "I wanted to go in and try to be the best at my position and hope my dream would come true and be in the NFL."

(On whether he can help himself at the Combine): "Go in Saturday and Sunday and give it my best and make sure I do everything right so teams can look at me and say good things about myself."

(On whether you need a big week to go in the first round): "I know I can help myself a lot. I know what I can do. I’m going to go in and just give it my all."

(On whether he patterns himself after any receiver?): "Yeah, Julio Jones."

(On people saying you’re a one-year wonder): "I didn’t expect to be a one-year-and-done but we had the coaching change and everything was getting a little crazy, so I wanted to get out of there."

(Name three strengths): "Speed, catching and scoring."

(On expectations for NFL): "The things I did in college, I expect to come in as a rookie and be a good rookie and be a Pro Bowler."

(On experts saying he's raw): "I don’t listen to anything anyone says about my ability. God gave it to me and I go out every day and practice hard at practice, and in the games I expect big things out of myself."

(On going to the Dolphins): "I haven’t talked to them like that but I have a meeting set with them later on today. Miami is my home and I’ll do whatever I have to do."

(On being the No. 1 WR drafted): "I really didn’t even think like that. There’s rumors coming around that I can be and I hope this weekend I can show that I can be that No. 1 receiver."

(On possibly going to Carolina): "My mama, she talks about that all the time. If I could be that close to home, I know she’d be at every game possible. When I was little, I used to always think about playing for the Panthers. If that dream comes true, then it comes true."

(On what he must improve): "My route-running and learning coverages, just getting better at that."

(On expecting to be good as a junior at UT): "I didn’t, because when I went to Tennessee, I didn’t even think I was going to be a starter. But then I went in and some things happened at Tennessee and people started expecting big things from me, so I had to fill that role."

(On whether he's a top 10 player): "I say I’m a top-15 pick but I can’t control what coaches think and they’re the ones that make the decisions. If they see me in the top 15, top 10, then I respect that because I think I am."