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Combine DBs: standouts and sliders

Berry impresses, but Haden looks slow and reveals some flaws. National Football Post

Print This March 03, 2010, 01:43 PM EST

On the final day of the 2010 Scouting Combine, the National Football Post breaks down the best and worst performances from the defensive back group.

Day four standouts

Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Berry looked like an elite-level cornerback – not a safety – during position drills Tuesday, showcasing an ability to cleanly change directions, maintain his balance and high-point the football. Plus, running in the 4.4 range proves he has the speed needed to run and cover the deep half of the field. Athletically, the guy has it all, but believe it or not, it’s his ball skills and confidence when tracking the throw that will make him one of the top players at his position for years to come.

Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma

Franks didn’t post the fastest 40 time (4.52), but at 5-11, 194 pounds, he displayed impressive flexibility, body control and coordination when asked to change directions and consistently was able to cleanly get out of his breaks during position drills. He isn’t an elite-level, quick-twitch athlete, but he exhibited good balance and footwork throughout his workout and is the kind of comer who will consistently put himself in position to make plays on the ball.

Amari Spievey, CB, Iowa

Spievey made some positive impressions with his pure straight-line speed, posting a sub-4.5 40 time on Tuesday. He’s a guy who showcases good natural fluidity in the hips and does a nice job smoothly turning and running down the field. He still needs to clean up his footwork, but overall it was a very solid day for him.

A.J. Jefferson, CB, Fresno State

Jefferson was a prospect I really liked on tape and thought he had the ability to press off the line and run with receivers down the field. And he did show well during position drills, but it was his straight-line speed (4.4 range) and 44-inch vertical that really opened some eyes. He’s a taller corner who will get leggy at times, but he has the fluidity and straight-line speed needed to develop into a player at the next level.

Taylor Mays, S, USC

I’m still committed to my original opinion of Mays, that he isn’t an instinctive safety and will struggle to maintain his balance when trying to accelerate quickly out of his breaks. For a guy his size to run the way he did, I can’t see him now getting past the top 32 picks. And to his credit, he did look a little cleaner with his footwork and displayed more bend in his drop. However, any time he was asked to move a little faster than he was used to, his balance was consistently the first thing to go.

Chad Jones, S, LSU

Jones was pretty much the opposite of Mays. He didn’t showcase ideal top-end speed for the position (mid-4.5 range), although he was much more fluid and balanced during positions drills and displayed the ability to cleanly redirect in space. He exhibited impressive natural body control and flexibility for his size and is a guy who plays a lot faster than he times. And I still believe he’s a potential impact-caliber defensive back who could end up being a great value in the latter portions of round one/early portions of round two.

Day four sliders

Chris Cook, DB, Virginia

I still feel Cook would be better served playing free safety at the next level. His 4.46 40 time was impressive, but he gets way too high in his drop, looks stiff when changing directions and consistently is forced to waste a step in order to maintain his balance. Plus, he isn’t clean or fluid when asked to turn and run, and I just can’t see him holding up vs. NFL-caliber receivers in off-coverage.

Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt

Much like Cook, Lewis is another guy who can impress as a straight-line/linear athlete; however, changing directions is a completely different story. He’s a tall, long defensive back who plays way too high, is stiff out of his transition and gets very leggy trying to keep his balance when changing directions. He’s got some upside as a size/speed athlete, but he simply didn’t display the type of body control in position drills needed to play man in the NFL.

Barry Church, SS, Toledo

There isn’t much you can do with a guy like Church at the next level since he doesn’t have the kind of straight-line speed needed to play in the deep half and struggles any time he’s asked to flip his hips and get out of his breaks. Church was stiff during drills and failed to generate any kind of acceleration when asked to redirect and change directions. He’s a big, strong-looking kid who has an NFL-caliber frame, but he doesn’t have the athletic skill set needed to compete vs. an NFL pass game.

Joe Haden, CB, Florida

I still believe Haden is the top corner in the draft, but his 4.6 time is going to raise some concerns at this stage of the process. As a linear athlete who can sit on routes and click and close on football, no other prospect does it better than Haden. However, there are some flaws in his drop from a technique standpoint (high in back-pedal, overextended footwork out of his transition and wild arms) that were obvious during workouts. He’s still a talented kid who has the burst to make plays on the football and jump routes, but he might be considered more of a Cover 2 guy than a man corner at the next level.

Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan

Warren had one of the uglier workouts of the defensive back group, posting a 40 time in the 4.6 range, looking sloppy and slow during position drills and struggling to keep his base down when asked to turn and run. There’s some natural fluidity in his hips when asked to change directions, but the guy’s footwork isn’t nearly as tight as it needs to be, and until he cleans that up, he’ll struggle to make plays on the ball.

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