The defensive backs got the morning started early with the first group, including Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, running 40-yard dashes, but it was Justin Gilbert who stole the show before the day even began. The 6'0, 200-pound cornerback from Oklahoma State unofficially finished his 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds, just one-hundredth away from the best time of the first group of defensive backs.
That honor belonged to Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines, who unofficially finished both of his attempts in 4.34 seconds. The relatively unknown cornerback is also 6'0, although he is seven pounds lighter than Gilbert.
Still, Gilbert may have posted an ever better time had he burst cleanly off the line of scrimmage. Instead, he looked frustrated, despite finishing with one of the best times of the day.
Dennard, projected by most to be a first-round pick, answered questions about his speed with unofficial times of 4.42 and 4.46 seconds, which keeps him among the top of the rankings at cornerback for most draftniks. Even though his times weren't as strong as Gilbert's, it was more than enough to win over some:
I don't care if Justin Gilbert runs a 4.20 today.. he's not close to the cover corner that Dennard is.— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) February 25, 2014
Battling for the top spot at safety, though, is Clinton-Dix, who didn't do much to separate himself from the field. Both runs for the Alabama safety were over 4.5 seconds, which leaves the door open for Louisville's Calvin Pryor to work his way into contention for the top free safety ranking.
Pryor will run with the second group of defensive backs later on Tuesday, along with TCU's Jason Verrett and Florida's Marcus Roberson. Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward will sit out on Tuesday due to a foot injury, according to Tony Pauline.
Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller had a solid showing, finishing both of his attempts in 4.40 seconds. It was enough to keep him as a possible first-round pick, according to Dan Kadar of SB Nation:
Still view Kyle Fuller as a possible first round pick. If there's a run on corners early, he could be in play for New Orleans.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) February 25, 2014