Can one jump make a defensive back millions?
That's the underlying question of the biggest news to surface during the final day of on-field drills at the 2015 NFL Combine.
Byron Jones leaps into the spotlight
You'll need to click to the second page if you want to see where Byron Jones was ranked among draft-eligible cornerbacks by CBSSports.com before Monday. The UConn product who sat out the final half of his senior season with a shoulder injury set what is believed to be an all-time Combine record when he leaped 12 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump. For some perspective, the next-best defensive back (Florida State's P.J. Williams) was 15 inches shy of Byron's leap, which also topped the official world record. That mark (12 feet, 2 inches), set by Norwegian Arne Tvervaag, had served as the world record since 1968. What does it mean for Jones' draft stock? That's hard to figure, but it's safe to assume he's reached Page 1 status for the foreseeable future.
Michigan State poised to produce another top CB
One year after the Bengals picked Darqueze Dennard with the 24th overall pick, teams slotted high in the draft will have to at least consider another Spartan cornerback. Trae Waynes was already presumed by most analysts to be the draft's top cornerback and he had a good enough performance Monday to reaffirm what was known about his athleticism. Waynes ran the fastest 40-yard dash of the day (4.31 seconds) and was among the best in the broad jump. In ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft, Waynes was pegged to the Dolphins at No. 14. If that held true, it'd mark the first time since 2009 that a defensive back wasn't picked in the top 10. If Monday was any indication, Waynes will be the one responsible for maintaining that streak.
Good year not to need a top-billed safety
The Browns could very well draft a safety with one of their 10 picks, but it's not considered to be a position of immediate need by pretty much every draft analyst under the sun. That's probably a good thing in a year that could result in just one safety (Alabama's Landon Collins) going in the first round. By comparison, last year's class, led by Calvin Pryor (No. 16, Jets), produced four first-rounders and five overall in the first 41 picks. Both of the Browns' safeties, Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson, earned Pro Bowl invitations in 2014. Gipson, who finished second in the NFL with six interceptions, is a restricted free agent. If the Browns look to add a safety on Day 3 of the draft, Arizona State's Damarious Randall is among the players trending upward, according to NFL.com.
Two SEC CBs could be good value picks in middle rounds
LSU's Jalen Collins and Ole Miss' Senquez Golson aren't expected to be picked on Day 1 but both could be intriguing options for teams on Day 2. Collins ran a great 40-yard dash (4.48 seconds) for his size (6-foot-1, 203 pounds) and was a consensus pick by draft analysts as a top performer Monday. One NFC director of personnel told NFL.com that Collins, who didn't play much with the Tigers until this past season, could become the best cornerback in the draft. Golson, who led the SEC with 10 interceptions in 2014, is about 4 inches shorter than Collins but makes up for it with good ball skills and quickness.
And the winners are...
With the Combine officially over, here's a breakdown of the top performers in each event.
WR J.J. Nelson (UAB) - 4.28 seconds
OL Ereck Flowers (Miami) - 37 reps of 225 pounds
WR Chris Conley (Georgia) - 45 inches
DB Byron Jones (UConn) - 12 feet, 3 inches
DB Justin Coleman (Tennessee) - 6.61 seconds
DB Bobby McCain (Memphis) - 3.82 seconds
Jones - 10.98 seconds
This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.
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