Defensive backs will continue to be a premium in the aerially focused offensive world of the NFL, and the position's group takes the field on the last day of NFL Combine workouts by themselves, in full focus for scouts and teams.
Let's take a look at five defensive backs to watch at the Combine, in no particular order:
- Dee Milliner. A first-team All-American in 2012 for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Milliner is a physical corner with the speed to catch up should a receiver get past him around the line of scrimmage. He could be the first secondary player to go in the draft, according to SB Nation's mock draft by Dan Kadar, who has Milliner going at No. 6 overall to the Cleveland Browns.
Milliner will need to work on his backpedaling skills, as the technique isn't taught at Alabama, so that could be a focus at the Combine.
- Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes, the former Florida State Seminole, is another corner who prefers jamming receivers around the line. A willing tackler against both the passing and running games, Rhodes will probably fare better in a system that allows him to play on an island.
- Kenny Vaccaro. In Kadar's mock, Vaccaro is the first safety to go off the board with the 21st pick by the Cincinnati Bengals. Strong in coming up against the run or in blitzing situations, the former Texas Longhorn will need to show that his downfield coverage techniques are ready for the speedy slot receivers and athletic tight ends of the NFL.
- John Cyprien. Out of Florida International, Cyprien doesn't have the big college platform, but his reputation as a heady free safety that can deliver punishing hits is making his name one to know as the draft nears. His speed, as with any defensive back, will be tested at the Combine, especially in regards to playing against deep throws.
- Tyrann Mathieu. After being dismissed by the LSU Tigers before the 2012 season and undergoing substance abuse treatment, Mathieu will likely need to answer questions about his off-field rehabilitation, but his ability to completely alter the course of a game, be it via a turnover or special teams play, during his time at LSU can't be ignored. His size, along with his aforementioned recovery, will be in focus at the Combine.
Here's a look at the cornerback prospects working out at the Combine:
Milliner, Dee CB Alabama
Rhodes, Xavier CB Florida St. Scouting Report
Banks, Johnthan CB Mississippi St.
Trufant, Desmond CB Washington
Alford, Robert CB Southeast Louisiana
McFadden, Leon CB San Diego St.
Taylor, Jamar CB Boise St.
Wreh-Wilson, Blidi CB Connecticut
Amerson, David CB N.C. State
Webb, B.W. CB William & Mary
Poyer, Jordan CB Oregon St. Scouting Report
Mathieu, Tyrann CB LSU
Slay, Darius CB Mississippi St.
Davis, Will CB Utah St.
Simon, Tharold CB LSU
Ryan, Logan CB Rutgers Scouting Report
Hawthorne, Terry CB Illinois
Commings, Sanders CB Georgia
Anthony, Marc CB California
Adams, Johnny CB Michigan St.
Bushell, Adrian CB Louisville
Johnson, Josh CB Purdue
Swanson, Daxton CB Sam Houston St.
Reid, Greg CB Florida St.
Hayden, D.J. CB Houston
Sweeting, Rod CB Georgia Tech
Gratz, Dwayne CB Connecticut
Wooten, Khalid CB Nevada
McGee, Brandon CB Miami
Robey, Nickell CB USC
Williams, Steve CB California
Edwards, Mike CB Hawaii
McCray, Demetrius CB Appalachian St.
Hester, Aaron CB UCLA
Webster, Kayvon CB South Florida
And here are the safeties attending the Combine:
Vaccaro, Kenny SS Texas
Reid, Eric FS LSU
Cyprien, John FS Florida International
Swearinger, D.J. SS South Carolina
Elam, Matt FS Florida
Wilcox, J.J. FS Georgia Southern
Williams, Shawn SS Georgia
Thomas, Phillip SS Fresno St.
Jefferson, Tony FS Oklahoma
Motta, Zeke SS Notre Dame
Thomas, Shamarko SS Syracuse
Evans, Josh FS Florida
Williams, Duke FS Nevada
Boyett, John SS Oregon
McDonald, T.J. FS USC
Wolff, Earl SS N.C. State
Hyde, Micah FS Iowa
Rambo, Bacarri SS Georgia
Slaughter, Jamoris SS Notre Dame
Lester, Robert FS Alabama
McDougald, Bradley FS Kansas
Starling, Jawanza SS USC
Miles, Rontez FS California (PA)
Johnson, Keelan SS Arizona State
Stafford, Daimion SS Nebraska