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2020 NFL Combine: Preview for defensive backs

The cornerbacks and safeties are working out today at the NFL Combine, so check out who our Senior Draft Analyst, EJ Snyder, has his eyes on.

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NFL: MAR 05 Scouting Combine Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL Network has been killing it with their coverage of the 2020 NFL Combine, and we’ve been giving you guys an open thread to discuss all the on-field action each day. Today it’ll be the defensive backs (corners, nickels, and safeties) going through their workouts and drills.

Coverage will start at 1:00 p.m Central on the NFL Network.

Most NFL Draft prospects will go through the following workouts, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, and the shuttle run.

Besides the usual drills we’ve seen each year at the combine, this year they’ve added new drills for each position group.

The defensive backs have four brand new drills this year, the line drill, the Teryl Austin drill, the box drill, and the same gauntlet drill that the receivers run, while losing the old standard close and speed turn drill and the pedal and hip turn drill.

Now I’ll turn it over to our Senior Draft Analyst, EJ Snyder, so he can go over a few prospects he’ll have his eye on today.

EJ’s prospects to keep an eye on:

Corner: This year’s CB class was touted as extremely deep at the start of the process. While there are some very talented players up and top and decent values throughout, it’s not as show-stopping as the WR group or even the offensive tackles. The Bears need outside corner help badly and there are definitely some players who could help in this class. NOTE: I’m listing two players as “In the Middle” because CB rankings are all over the place this year. Listing a player as one to watch “Down Low” would be odd if he shows up in a few Top-10 lists, while he may well be outside the top-20 on other people’s boards

Up High: Jeffery Okudah is the top dog in this class and he’ll be gone in the first 5 picks. A corner who might be around when the Bears pick in the second round is Cameron Dantzler out of Mississippi State. At 6’1”/185 Dantzler has the length to compete along the boundary and plenty of experience gained from facing off with tons of talented receivers in the SEC. He isn’t the name you’ll hear first when analysts talk about this class but he’s got the drive to be very good at the next level.

In the Middle: Troy Pride Jr. - This Notre Dame corner made himself a lot of money in Mobile at the Senior Bowl this year. He rolled in without a ton of buzz and left the week on almost every scouts “re-watch” list. He competed extremely hard all week and had some very good shutdown reps against the wickedly talented WR group assembled by Jim Nagy and his staff. The Bears might need to get back into the third round to get him but if they do, and he’s there, he’d be a worthy pick.

In the Middle: Jaylon Johnson - A tall, physical corner who thrives 1-on-1. Johnson is also not a stranger to laying a hit a ballcarrier having played in the most physical defense in the Pac-12 (Utah). He’d fit right into Chuck Pagano’s attacking scheme.

Safety: This year’s safety class features a a number of “duos” where both safeties from the same school are in the draft. Notre Dame, California, Auburn, Utah, and Baylor all have duos while Alabama has a trio! That’s good news for Chicago as they only currently have two safeties under contract.

Up High: While some big names from big schools will likely be off the board before the Bears pick, Kyle Dugger from tiny Lenoir-Rhyne might still be on the board. If he is the Bears should give him a long look. He’s a tremendous athlete and should test very well at the Combine. If he does he may raise his stock too high for Chicago, but runs on other positions (QB &OT) might serve to drop him back into their laps in the second round.

In the Middle: K’Von Wallace - This Clemson defender does his best work near the line of scrimmage and that would be a fine pairng with Eddie Jackson. He hits like a linebacker and even played there a little for the Tigers when their defense was struck by injuries. He won’t be the fastest safety on the track but he’s quick and instinctive.

Down Low: Antoine Brooks Jr./Shyheim Carter - Brooks Jr. was a Tasmanian Devil for the Terrapins. An absolute high energy tone-setter that plays at one speed: flat-out. He’s on the shorter side but loves to hit and when he does he leaves a mark. Carter was buried a bit on the absolutely stacked Alabama safety depth chart (both players ahead of him are in this draft) but he’s a talented player in both coverage and against the run. It’ll be interesting to see how well he tests and moves compared to his teammates.


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