2018 NFL Scouting Combine: Defensive Backs

by Christian Page

Photo: Tony Harman, Colorado Official Athletics

The NFL Scouting Combine finishes the 2018 edition with all 70 defensive backs participating on Monday. With eight or so defensive backs being coveted as first round picks, a heavy amount of emphasis on the testing in Indianapolis could be a difference maker in some draft rooms. 

If you missed any of the Optimum Scouting coverage, catch up! 

- Day 1, Wednesday 

- Day 2, Thursday 

- Day 3, Friday 

- Day 4, Saturday

- Day 5, Sunday 

  • The defensive backs put on a clinic in the 40-yard dash with eight participants posting sub-4.4 times. 

                   4.32 - Donte Jackson (LSU), Parry Richardson (Tulane), Denzel Ward (Ohio State)

                   4.34 - Troy Apke (Penn State)

                   4.35 - Tony Brown (Alabama)

                   4.36 - Anthony Averett (Alabama)

                  4.38 - Jaire Alexander (Louisville)

                  4.39 - Avonte Maddox (Pittsburgh)

  • Though his 2017 tape wasn't as convincing compared to the 2016 season, Jaire Alexander looked to be the best overall cornerback on the field on Monday. His fluid movement skills and natural catching ability caught a lot of eyes among a solid group of defensive backs. Though his game is more of an off-coverage style, the Louisville cornerback threw up 225 pounds 14 times proving he has the strength to battle in press coverage. 
  • With plenty of first round praise since the end of the season, Josh Jackson disappointed. He did not look comfortable in the on-field drills showing too much hesitation. He had to restart drills multiple times. His 4.56 40-yard dash time isn't a red flag but compared to some of his colleagues at the top of the list, it's underwhelming. Iowa's pro day on March 26 is extremely important for the first round hopeful.
  • Denzel Ward tied two others for the top 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine (4.32). Ward was already dealing with an ankle injury and opted to not participate in the on-field drills. Ohio State's pro day is March 22. 
  • Other first round hopeful, Carlton Davis (Auburn) had an average day but nothing significant to crush his draft stock. Davis' footwork was controlled and comfortable but he had a hard time snagging the football with a few drops throughout the morning (one of his bigger weaknesses on film). His 4.53 40-yard dash time is an excellent mark for his style of play. Isaiah Oliver (Colorado) was a fluid mover in all drills and looked comfortable when changing direction. At nearly 6-foot even and 201 pounds, Oliver ran an official 4.50 and measured with 33.5-inch arms. His size, speed and coverage skills should push him up draft boards after this week even though his tape showed every bit of that. 
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) and Derwin James (Florida State) continue to impress their overall skill in multiple areas. Their versatility and reliability shows up constantly on tape, but their athleticism is what was on display today. Both defensive back prospects tested extremely well and had no issues in the on-field workouts. Both hitting the sub-4.5 mark in the 40-yard dash, their coveted speed and high-level film will push them to both go in the top 15, maybe top 10.