Indianapolis is a-buzz once again for the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Over the next few days, 300+ college prospects will give their all to prove their athletic prowess on the field.
The so-called “Underwear Olympics” are these players’ best opportunity to impress all 32 NFL teams in person before the Draft. Day 1 featured two position groups the Steelers will be keeping close tabs on in 2023, Defensive Line and Linebacker. The grouping also included EDGE rushers. You can find my recap of Day 1 HERE.
Day 2 is all about the Defensive Backs, another high profile position group the Steelers will be watching closely. Cornerbacks and Safeties will compete in a variety of drills to show off their athleticism for teams looking for impact players in the secondary. The DB class is deep, and the cornerback group especially looks to have some elite prospects.
Each day, I’ll compile my notes and observations of the on-field workouts into a recap of the day’s activities. I’ll break it down by workout and highlight the most intriguing performances of the day. Let’s dive in!
NOTE: The following observations are from the live coverage of the Combine on the NFL Network. Any results posted outside of that coverage are not included in this piece.
Label Michigan CB DJ Turner II “Turner the Burner” based on his other-worldly 40 time of 4.26 sec. A well-built corner with that speed? Solidified himself as an early Day 2 pick, no doubt.
CBs Jakorian Bennett and Deonte Banks out of Maryland tore up the 40 with 4.30 and 4.35 respectively. Banks’ time is extra impressive considering he’s a 6’0”, 200lb tank of a CB. Has a chance to be the 4th CB off the board.
At only 166lbs, Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes needed to show elite speed and athleticism. Great start with a 4.35 sec. 40.
The South Carolina CB duo of Darius Rush and Cam Smith move with ease, running 4.36 and 4.43 dashes respectively. Smith is as smooth an athlete as it gets.
CB Christian Gonzalez can fly, and his length is elite as well. 4.38 secs. is really good. With Devon Witherspoon not running and Porter Jr. running a little slower than expected, the former Oregon Duck might have cemented CB1 status in this draft.
S Brandon Hill out of Pitt had himself a day, starting with his 4.43 sec. dash to pace the safety group. A bullet on the back end.
S Daniel Scott out of California is a big DB at 6’1”, 208lbs but boy can he motor. His 4.45 40 looked explosive.
At 5’10”, 211lbs, Illinois Safety Sydney Brown is a rocket with a nasty disposition. His 4.47 40 was impressive. Brown has drawn comps to Troy Polomalu for his physical presence and on-field versatility. His teammate and fellow safety at Illinois, Jartavius Martin, also looked fast running a 4.46 sec. dash.
Deonte Banks proved his explosiveness with a 42” vert. Might be the best overall athlete in the CB group.
CB Julius Brents out of Kansas St. powered up a strong 41.5” vert. His length and physicality will impress some people.
Christian Gonzalez is just impressive to watch. Legit looked like he was floating on his 41.5” vert.
Jakorian Bennett hits 40.5” on his vert. More explosiveness out of Maryland.
South Alabama CB Darrell Luter Jr. is having a great combine. Improving his stock with a solid 40 time and a top-tier 40.5” vertical jump.
Are you serious Jartavius Martin with a 44” vertical? Rumor has it he hasn’t come down yet.
S Jason Taylor II out of Oklahoma St. jumped out the gym with a 43” vert. impressive looking prospect. Physical specimen.
More Julius Brents in this article with an absolutely massive 11’6” broad jump. Try a broad jump at home and then tip your cap to Brents. Wow.
Not far behind is, you guessed it, Deonte Banks with an 11’4” leap. Banks is likely a 1st Round pick now after his Combine workouts.
Cam Smith had a so, so vert (38”) but a huge 11’2” broad jump. My favorite player to watch in the on-field drills showing some real explosiveness.
Jartavius Martin is turning in a Juan Thornhill-like combine performance that will help him similarly climb draft boards. A magnificent 11’1” broad jump for Martin.
How about the little guy out of TCU? CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson exploded out of his stance for am impressive 11’0” broad jump. Big time leap.
Emmanuel Forbes, DJ Turner II, and Stanford CB Kyu Blu Kelly all had great jumps of 10’11”. Kelly is an intriguing fringe Day 2 prospect with good athleticism.
Sydney Brown jumped 10’10” in the broad. He’s working his way into a Day 2 lock with this workout.
The DB prospects participate in a variety of skill drills to test fluidity, flexibility, agility, quickness, and ball skills. Here’s a breakdown of each drill:
Line Drills - tests fluidity and the ability to flip the hips
Backpedal & Transition - tests backpedal agility, fluidity, and the ability to transition to full sprint and find the football in the air
“W” Drill - tests change-of-direction (COD), plant and drive ability, and quickness
Sprint Out Drill - Tests backpedal to sprint transition, fluidity, and quick react ability
Teryl Austin Drills 1 & 2 - tests COD, plant and drive, hip release, fluidity
Figure-8 Drill - tests plant and drive, fluidity, and hip release
Gauntlet Drill - tests ball skills, ability to flip the hips, agility/body control at full sprint
Here are the players who stood out in the positional drills:
Deonte Banks - explosive mover; line drill standout
Christian Gonzalez - effortless athleticism in every drill; easy ball skills
Clark Phillips III - as quick as they come; truly elite transitioner from backpedal to sprint
Cam Smith - visually the most fluid mover in the CB group, excelled in COD and hip-flipping drills
Tyrique Stevenson - impressive footwork; easy speed
Kelee Ringo - a little stiff and upright, but his quickness is next-level
Cameron Mitchell - another effortlessly fluid mover; good feet
Julius Brents - looks like a safety, moves like a corner; explosive mover
Brian Branch - confident athlete; best backpedal to sprint transition of the group
Daryl Luter Jr. - great ball skills; fluidity improving
Sydney Brown - Can’t talk enough about how explosive Brown looked in all the drills
Brandon Hill - Hill will keep rising up boards after showing elite speed for a S
Jordan Howden - smooth and agile mover; displayed good hands in coverage
Antonio Johnson - really fluid coming out of breaks and flipping his hips
Jartavius Martin - the combine king at S; best mover of the entire group
Jammie Robinson - translatable speed and quickness
Daniel Scott - best combo of size and athleticism at S
Ji’Ayir Brown - as explosive as they come; elite suddenness and twitch
Did anybody stand out to you when watching the NFL Combine coverage on Thursday? Let us know in the comments. For a complete list of 2023 NFL Scouting Combine workouts and results, visit nfl.com/combine/tracker/live-results.