- Winners and Losers: CB/S
INDIANAPOLIS — The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up on Sunday with impressive defensive backs running and jumping as part of their crucial job interviews. Given the lack of "scoutable" plays that most defensive backs see in a typical college football game, the workouts in Indy become a valuable tool to evaluate their overall movement skills and ability to catch passes.
The vast majority of young men at the combine perform as expected. A few "winners" exceed those expectations, though, or at least meet very high expectations facing them coming into the event. A strong combine is unlikely to push a Day 3 prospect into the first round, but it can allow him to win tiebreakers over other similarly valued players at his position.
Unfortunately, others fail to change scouts’ minds about deficiencies keeping them from being at the top of the class. Thankfully for those players, the combine is only one part of a robust evaluation process. Teams will add the workout data from Indy to the prospects’ game tape, all-star game performances, interviews and background checks to determine their final grade.
While the timing results and measurements are key data from the event, the on-field workouts are also important. Let’s face it, it’s as close to actual football as we get in Indianapolis this week. I focus on that aspect of the combine experience in these articles nearly as much as the various testing results.
Essang Bassey, CB, Wake Forest: Bassey measured under 5-foot-10 (5-9 3/8) and his hands measured a shade under eight inches, which is well below average for his position. However, you would have never guessed his hands were on the small side given his ability to catch the ball in on-field drills. A fluid, fast (4.46 40-yard dash) athlete with some length (31-inch arms), Bassey looks like a future nickelback at the next level. His jumps were also above the norm (39-inch vertical, 10-8 broad jump).
Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois: Chinn earned this spot over fellow non-FBS safety prospect Kyle Dugger (Lenoir-Rhyne) due to a superior performance during on-field drills. Chinn has a thick build (6-3, 221), but his hips were fluid and he adjusted to the ball well in the air. He extended away from his body to grab passes, as well. I think Chinn might have hit his head on the Lucas Oil Stadium roof with a 41-inch vertical (just behind Dugger’s 42-inch jump) and his 11-6 broad jump tied for second best among all 2020 combine participants. He also ran an impressive 4.45 40. Chinn’s game film and work at the Senior Bowl in January were appreciated by scouts, too, but I think he gained a few more fans with his Indy workout.
C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida: The former Gator weighed in at a solid 204 pounds in Indianapolis and yet he still managed to run a 4.39 40 (tied for third fastest among DBs). His 20 bench-press reps showed some dedication in the weight room, as well. Henderson was also the most impressive corner in on-field drills, looking smooth in transition and catching just about everything thrown his way. He needed a good day to secure a first-round selection — and he got it.
Troy Pride, CB, Notre Dame: Scouts likely were not thrilled with this former Fighting Irish defender’s senior year tape. However, his work at the Senior Bowl and the combine may have helped him get back in their good graces. Pride’s athleticism was on full display, both on the runway (4.40 40 at 193 pounds) and in the field drills. He made a Willie Mays-type catch on a deep throw, and was solid catching the ball all day. His fluid hips were also on display during drills.
A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson: Everyone saw Terrell struggle against LSU stud receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the national title game. However, teams should appreciate the difficult task he had that night, and he has plenty of tape to like in other contests. His combine performance should also help alleviate concerns about his game. He ran a 4.42 40 at 6-1, 195 pounds (1.49 10-yard split), which was impressive. Terrell exhibited soft hands throughout the on-field workouts, including a couple of high-pointed balls on deep throws. He let his center of gravity get too high in some transition drills, and lost his balance once. The former Tiger rebounded after that, however, to finish strong.
K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson: There is always strong competition among safeties looking for coveted Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) draft slots. Wallace’s tape is good enough to earn him a draft slot in that range, and I believe he cemented a Day 2 spot with his work in Indy. His 4.53 40 at 206 pounds was solid and he also jumped well (38-inch vertical, 11-1 broad jump). He was the most polished safety in defensive back drills, in terms of transitioning from backpedal to forward motion. Wallace didn’t catch every pass thrown his way but snatched enough for me to say he had a positive day.
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Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State: NFL scouts like Dantzler’s height (6-2) and physicality. Running a 4.64 40 at 188 pounds, however, did not help his cause. His lack of length (30 5/8-inch arms, 72 3/8 wing) was a bit surprising, as well, given his height. Dantzler was fair in his transitions and caught most of the passes thrown his way, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Physicality is also one of his primary attributes, which he couldn’t show here. He could end up being a good press corner in the league, but it’s tough to see a team using a top-50 pick on Dantzler at this point.
Stanford Samuels, CB, Florida State: Samuels came out of Florida State as an underclassman, and was looking for a strong combine to make his case to be a top-100 pick. While he measured 6-1 and has some length (76 3/8 wing), he weighed just 187 pounds. Even with that lean frame, he couldn’t break 4.65 in the 40 and he didn’t really stand out enough in drills to overcome the average speed. Samuels’ father got a chance as an undrafted free agent with the Colts before having a long career in the Canadian Football League. I suspect the younger Samuels will get drafted in April, but it might be later than he hoped.
Geno Stone, S, Iowa: A solid player for the Hawkeyes, Stone entered the draft as a junior. While NFL scouts knew he was not tall (5-10 3/8), they did not necessarily expect the below-average length (29 1/4 arms, 71-inch wingspan). Despite the shorter arms, Stone only managed 12 reps on the bench press. His 4.62 40 and jump results (33.5-inch vertical, 9-8 broad jump) won’t help him. Stone had a hard time transitioning during drills due to stiff hips, as well. He did make a nice high-point catch on a deep pass, though.
Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.
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