The final day of workouts at the NFL combine puts defensive backs in the spotlight, and there are some noteworthy prospects making early impressions.
• One of the questions facing CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) is his deep speed. He helped ease those concerns early Tuesday. Amukamara ran in the high 4.3-second range in the 40-yard dash, and he displayed the ball skills and foot quickness we like so much on film.
As for Amukamara's top competition at cornerback, LSU's Patrick Peterson checked in at 219 pounds and is built like a running back. Peterson put up a very good broad jump at 10-foot-6, and we're interested to see how he moves and runs with some extra weight on his frame.
• Miami DC Brandon Harris stayed low and balanced when asked to backpedal, flip his hips and run. He also did a better job of ripping his elbow through than most of the corners. Ripping the elbow through turns the torso and forces the legs to whip around.
• Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling pulled a hamstring on his only 40 attempt of the day, and even though he ran an unofficial 4.40 it only serves to reinforce durability concerns.
Dowling has the tools to quickly develop into an effective starter in a zone-heavy scheme but hamstring, knee and ankle injuries limited him to five games and just two starts last year. Injuries also prevented him from attending the Senior Bowl, so we were excited to see him work out in Indianapolis.
• Texas CB Curtis Brown did not rip off a blazing 40 time, but his time in the mid-4.5s is good enough. Brown is standing out in drills, showing quick feet, good ball skills and timing leaps, and high-pointing the ball well. He also showed more fluid hips than expected.
• North Carolina CB Kendric Burney did not run well (low 4.6s), but that was somewhat expected due to questions about his long speed. However, Burney looked good during drills with his short-area quickness and elite ball skills.
He tracked a ball over his shoulder and made a nice catch on a deep pass, and while he will need to be protected in a Cover-2-heavy scheme at the next level, he has the potential to develop into an adequate starter in time and a valuable special-teams contributor early on.
• Temple S Jaiquawn Jarrett struggled a bit during drills, looking tight and taking extra steps to gather at the top of his backpedal and transition forward. He also showed inconsistent hands. We like the way he plays near the box on film, though, and because of his limitations in coverage Jarrett will be utilized a lot in run support at the next level.
Every year prospects try to cheat drills in an effort to mask their weaknesses. Colorado DC Jalil Brown looked like he tried to hide the tightness in his hips, backpedaling slower than a lot of the corners to make it easier for him to open and run. This rarely works for two reasons. First, teams already know about his tight hips based on film study. Secondly, scouts will take a second look at the film of these workouts and pick up on any attempts at cheating.