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DBs on display in Indy: five things to watch

LSU's Peterson, 40 times, the free safeties and more. Matt Bowen

March 01, 2011
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The final day of the NFL combine kicks off this morning with the defensive backs getting on the field for their workouts inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are five things I will be looking at before these guys get out of town and start to focus on their pro days back on campus.

1. Patrick Peterson’s draft stock: Can the LSU CB jump up to the No.1 spot on the Carolina Panthers’ draft board? We know what he can do on tape and there is no question he is the top CB prospect. You get safety size (6-1, 220) outside of the numbers with Peterson. That’s very rare. What the LSU product can do today is gain some major post-combine buzz with great numbers in the 40, 3-cone and the vertical jump. Measure his athletic skills comparable to the size he carries on the field. Opportunity for Peterson to lock up a spot at the top of the draft.

Jimmy SmithICONColorado's Jimmy Smith can move up the draft boards with a big workout today.

2. The 40-yard dash: The stopwatch is big for the secondary. Applies more the CB position than to a free or strong safety, but as one GM told me over the weekend in Indy, a slow time makes you go back to the film—because now there are questions. This is a fast track at Lucas Oil Stadium and we could see some times that are very comparable to the likes of Bama WR Julio Jones (4.39) from Sunday. Like the drill or not, speed sells in Indy when we talk about defensive backs. And the 40-yard dash is the ultimate judge.

3. Rahim Moore vs. Quinton Carter: From my perspective, the top two safety prospects in the draft. As we have talked about before, this is an average safety class coming out. And that equals a possible jump for both UCLA’s Moore and Oklahoma’s Carter up draft boards with a solid workout today. Keep an eye on how they test and what we see when they track the ball from the middle of the field in position drills. The free safety is a position of need in the NFL with the amount of three wide receiver sets we see on a regular basis. One of these prospects could be the first safety to come off of the board in my opinion. Let’s see them compete today.

4. Position specific drills: My favorite part of the workout for the defensive backs. Gives us a look at the footwork and technique of the prospects. Can they turn their hips in a smooth, controlled motion? What about their plant and drive? Is it choppy or do we see the prospect get in and out of his breaks? Bad technique will be exposed today in Indy. Also, pay attention to conditioning—because these drills will eat up your legs. I did the same workout back at the 2000 combine, and I felt like a played a game when I finished.

5. The post-workout buzz: This applies to Peterson, Smith, Miami's Brandon Harris and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara—the top prospects. But don’t forget about some names lower on the draft boards. A player like Virginia Tech CB Rashard Carmichael or West Virginia SS Robert Sands. Who is going to be that prospect that blows up the testing at the combine and picks up that crucial post-combine buzz staring this afternoon? It happens every year, and one player is going to make some money today based on his workout.

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