The cornerbacks have been just as fast as advertised Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. While Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert managed to steal the show in the morning sessions, it was Utah cornerback Keith McGill who impressed in the latter session.
McGill, who stands at 6'3 and weighs in at 211 pounds, clocked an unofficial 4.47 for his 40-yard dash. Someone of his size running a sub-4.5 is pretty incredible. His second attempt clocked in at 4.44 seconds, building on his first. McGill has been considered a late-round talent, though he's been discussed in the middle rounds as well.
SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn has McGill pegged as the No. 21 cornerback coming out this year. It's safe to say that he bumped up his stock significantly, provided his 40 time holds, which it should. That combination of size and speed will convince some team to take him fairly early on in the draft.
In addition to the fact that he's got speed, it's worth noting his vertical leap, as pointed out by Doug Kyed:
Keith McGill had a vertical leap of 39 inches at 6-foot-3, 211 pounds. That's a lot of height.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) February 25, 2014
To compare, Jason Verrett, a 5'10, 176-pound defensive back out of TCU, ran an unofficial 4.41 40-yard dash in his first go but improved for an official 4.38 40 time in his second go. Verrett also happens to be one of the top cornerbacks in the nation, and tops Fairburn's aforementioned rankings. Obviously, 40-yard dash time isn't the be-all, end-all when it comes to evaluation for defensive backs, but it's always impressive when the bigger players can keep up.
Verrett's ability shouldn't be diminished though. Thus far, his 4.38 is among the best for cornerbacks. Verrett was already considered a first-round talent when it came to his coverage ability, and he only built on that by proving he's able to run. It's hard to imagine him not getting selected in the first round, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him be the first cornerback off the board on draft day.
As noted by Ryan Lownes, Verrett doesn't have "prototypical size" but isn't too worse for wear because of it:
Good times for Jason Verrett today. He's another one that just lacks that prototypical size. Aggressive, high-effort CB with cover skills.— Ryan Lownes (@ryanlownes) February 25, 2014
But to this point, Verrett only comes in third among all defensive backs in this drill. That's because Phillip Gaines and Justin Gilbert both managed to put up official times of 4.37. Gaines, a 6'0 cornerback out of Rice, has put himself on the radar with this performance. Many scouts will be going back to look over his tape after his showing at the combine. Gilbert, who is 6'0 and 200 pounds, has only reinforced his place in the first round come May.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com brings up a good point in that the shoes these defensive backs are wearing could be helping them: Nike provided some of the players with hollowed cleat nubs, which makes them more like spikes. According to Brandt, some combine officials wanted to ban the shoes, but the NFL approved them.
Maybe that will become a bigger deal in the future, but for now, it's not much of a headline. What we know is this: The cornerbacks sure are fast this year, especially the bigger ones.