Dee Milliner locked down a top 10 draft pick with a stunning display of speed on Tuesday in the final day of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, but he wasn't the only top cornerback to post impressive results.
Cornerbacks in the NFL these days must be able to keep up with receivers that are posting sub-4.40-second 40 times. And while it's true that there are plenty of corners who can't run quite that fast, they aren't getting drafted in Round 1.
It's imperative for young defensive backs with first-round aspirations to impress scouts with their ability to play the ball, stick to their man in tight spaces and make tackles, but above all else, these men must be fast.
Not surprisingly, the three corners with the best chance to be drafted in Round 1 in 2013 also posted some of the fastest times in the 40-yard dash at the combine on Tuesday.
Dee Milliner, Alabama
Milliner was a consensus All-American in 2012, and his contributions to the Crimson Tide's BCS championship were noteworthy. He was able to lock down Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert—another first-round talent this year—for the first half of the title game.
Additionally, during his junior campaign last year, Milliner tallied 34 solo tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions—one of which he returned for a touchdown—an eye-popping 22 passes defended and two forced fumbles.
Before the combine, Milliner was the consensus No. 1 corner of this year's draft class, but scouts wondered if he possessed elite speed or not.
That's no longer a question, as Milliner's time of 4.37 seconds was the second-fastest time of any cornerback at the combine. His fast time solidified him as the best corner in the draft, and it's not crazy to think he might be selected in the top five in April.
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
A big, physical cornerback who loves to play press-man coverage, Rhodes (6'1" and 210 pounds) was highly valued before the combine, but scouts didn't know if he would be fast enough to avoid being a liability in coverage over the top.
That question was answered in resounding fashion, as Rhodes' 4.43-second effort on Tuesday showed without a shadow of a doubt that he's fast enough to keep up with the NFL's best on the outside.
Even more impressive was Rhodes' explosiveness in his jumps. He tied with B.W. Webb in the vertical jump, posting a 40.5-inch leap that had scouts gawking, and then he tied two others for the top mark in the broad-jump, posting a total of 132 inches.
Speed, leaping prowess, prototypical size and the skills to dominate in one-on-one coverage has Rhodes' stock soaring.
Desmond Trufant, Washington
While some of the other cornerbacks who were considered to be fringe first-round picks posted uninspiring combine numbers, Trufant seized the day with a blazing 40 time and some impressive footwork in the 20-yard shuttle.
Trufant was being mocked in the bottom of Round 1 by many draftniks before the combine. His blend of good size, speed, quickness and agility showed up well at the Senior Bowl, where Trufant stood out as one of the best players in Mobile, Alabama.
Then, he torched the track in Indianapolis with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash.
That's the kind of number that will have scouts scrambling to take another look at his tape. After Trufant's combine, he's a lock as a late first-round pick.
Here are the official results of all the cornerbacks who ran the 40-yard dash at the combine, courtesy of NFL.com.
|Johnny Adams||Michigan State||5'11"||178||4.48|
|Robert Alford||Southeast Louisiana||6'||185||4.39|
|David Amerson||N.C. State||6'3"||194||4.44|
|Johnthan Banks||Mississippi State||6'2"||185||4.61|
|Will Davis||Utah State||6'||186||4.51|
|Demetrius McCray||Appalachian State||6'1"||185||4.54|
|Leon McFadden||San Diego State||5'10"||185||4.54|
|Jordan Poyer||Oregon State||6'||190||4.54|
|Greg Reid||Valdosta State||5'7"||186|
|Xavier Rhodes||Florida State||6'1"||215||4.43|
|Darius Slay||Mississippi State||6'1"||190||4.36|
|Daxton Swanson||Sam Houston State||5'10"||185||4.56|
|Rod Sweeting||Georgia Tech||6'||184||4.42|
|Jamar Taylor||Boise State||5'11"||195||4.39|
|B.W. Webb||William & Mary||5'11"||180||4.51|
|Kayvon Webster||South Florida||5'11"||198||4.41|
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