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2023 NFL Scouting Combine: Day Two Recap

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The defensive backs were out for day two of the 2023 Scouting Combine. The track continued to burn after they ran their forties.

They split the prospects into two groups today. The first group was the cornerbacks, with a few safeties and nickels mixed in. The second group was mostly safeties with a handful of nickel corners as well.

Let’s look at the players performed in each group.

2023 NFL Scouting Combine: Day Two Recap

DEFENSIVE BACK GROUP 1

  • DJ Turner (CB/Michigan) was the fastest corner at the combine with a 4.26 forty with a crazy 1.47 10-yard split. I have a lot of film work to do on Turner but a time like that will get my eyes there in a hurry.
  • Alabama safety Brian Branch probably should have been in the second group. Although, he could be one of the better nickels in the NFL. Branch has great fluidity in his movements and attacks the ball quickly. His forty time (4.58) wasn’t great but I don’t think it affects him too much. 
  • Deonte Banks (CB/Maryland) measured 6’0 and 197 pounds. His 4.35 forty (1.49 split), 42″ vertical, and 11’4″ broad jump were outstanding. 
  • His fellow Terrapin (and Mobile, AL native) Jakorian Bennett managed to outrun Banks. Bennett clocked a 4.30 in the forty but fell short of Banks in the jumps (40.5″ & 11’1″). Bennett is another potential nickel corner who also played well at safety during the Senior Bowl game.
  • The only thing Julius Brents (CB/Kansas State) didn’t slay during his Combine workout was the forty (4.53). he had a 41.5″ vertical and a ridiculous 11’6″ broad jump. Brents then followed that up with a 4.05 shuttle and a 6.63 three-cone. After a good week in Mobile, the K-State product continues to ascend.

  • Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes has great tape and tested well. He ran a 4.35 forty. However, Forbes is a few pounds away from being anorexic. He measured in at 6’0″ and 166 pounds. If he is selected in the first round, Forbes will be a complete outlier with that size.
  • Christian Gonzalez (CB/Oregon) came into the Combine as the top corner prospect. That has not changed. The former Duck has a chance to be selected in the first 6-7 selections of round one. Everything he did during testing was outstanding. Gonzalez followed that up with an overt sleekness during all of the field drills.

  • Utah CB Clark Phillips III suffered some damage to his draft stock. He measured in at 5’9″ and 184 pounds. The real killer was the 29 1/8″ arm measurement. Phillips ran an unideal 4.51 in the forty with a pedestrian 33″ vertical. He is probably looking at a ceiling of a late-day two prospect and a career as a nickel. 
  • Joey Porter Jr. (CB/Penn State) measured in at a rock solid 6’2″ and 193 pounds. His arm length of 34 inches was outstanding. Porter ran a 4.46 in the forty and jumped 35″ in the vert. 
  • Georgia CB Kelee Ringo measured in at 6’1″ and 207 pounds. His 4.36 forty was tremendous. Everything else…not so much. Ringo had inconsistent tape in 2022 and followed that with a clunky performance during the field drills. He is one I would consider on the cusp of round one but more likely an early 2nd round pick.
  • I am not sure a single prospect has had a better predraft process than Darius Rush (CB/South Carolina). After being one of the shining stars during Senior Bowl week, he came to the Combine and continued his ascension into nearly being a day two lock. Rush ran a 4.36 in the forty (1.51 split). During the field drills, he flipped his hips smoothly and we already know he has the requisite ball skills.
  • Another Gamecock corner, Cam Smith, measured in at 6’1″ and 180 pounds. The weight was a little lighter than I would have liked to see but the tape doesn’t show that causing any issues. Smith had no wasted movements during his field drills. During his testing, he ran a 4.43 forty (1.49 split), had a 38″ vertical, and an 11’2″ broad jump. Smith is a borderline first-round pick. 
  • A bit of a surprise with his speed was South Alabama CB Darrell Luter Jr. He put any questions about that to bed with a 4.46 forty.
  • Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon did not work out and will instead work out exclusively at the Illinois pro day.

DEFENSIVE BACK GROUP 2

  • The best player I saw in this group was Illinois safety, Jartavius Martin. Martin had a good week at the Senior Bowl and then tested through the roof today. Martin ran a 4.46 forty (1.47 split), had a 44″ vertical (!), and a broad jump of 11’1″. He then showed how well he could sink his hips and transition with quick cuts on the field. Martin may see a dual safety/nickel role early in his career with an instant impact on special teams.
  • His Illini teammate Sydney Brown ran a 4.47 in the 40 with a 1.51 10-yard split. He added a 40.5″ vert with a 10’10” broad jump. Brown cuts at 90-degree show sharply.
  • I have been high on Oklahoma State safety Jason Taylor II for some time now. The former Poke was highly productive in his career. After coming to the Senior Bowl late and making an impact, Taylor ran a 4.5 forty with a 43″ vertical leap. He tracked the ball well on the field and looked smooth in his breaks.
  • One of the higher-rated safeties coming into the Combine was Texas A&M’s, Antonio Johnson. He measured in at 6’2″ and 198 pounds. He ran a 4.52 in the forty, tracked the ball well, and looked extremely fluid in his turns.
  • One of the more disappointing prospects in this group was Brandon Joseph (S/Notre Dame). Joseph was highly rated at Northwestern two years ago but hasn’t lived up to that billing the last two seasons in South Bend. After measuring 6’0″ and 202 pounds, Joseph ran a 4.62 in the forty. His jumps were also subpar (30.5″ vertical, 9’10” broad). At best, Joseph is an early day three prospect. 
  • Another disappointment on the track today was Penn State’s, Ji’Ayir Brown. Brown ran a 4.65 after checking in at 5’11” and 203 pounds. He also had a 32 1/2″ vertical with a 9’11” broad jump. Brown was much better on the field, however. But after years of seeing Nittany Lions blaze on the track, this was unsatisfying.
  • Georgia safety Chris Smith II (4.62 forty), and Alabama teammates Jordan Battle (4.55) and Demarco Hellams (4.57) probably all would have preferred faster times but looked good during drills.
  • Maybe the biggest surprise was Cal’s, Daniel Scott. He will be an older prospect (25) but he is well put together. Scott ran a 4.45 in the forty, vertical leaped 39.5″, and broad jumped 10’8″. He then followed that with a 4.17 shuttle and a 6.75 three-cone.

Check back tomorrow for my recap of day three.

You can also see a sortable table with all of the testing results here at Draft Countdown!

 

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