Scouting Combine Research: DB, Part 3

The third segment of our preview includes the tallest (Stanley Jean-Baptiste) and shortest (Lamarcus Joyner) cornerbacks, plus two standout SEC safeties.

CB Kendall James, Maine (6-0, 175): James was a second-team FCS All-American and first-team all-Colonial selection following a senior season of two interceptions, nine pass breakups and a blocked field goal. That came on top of his junior season, in which he intercepted three passes -- including one he returned 100 yards for a touchdown -- in addition to two forced fumbles. He was an all-CAA third-team choice in 2011, as well. Coach Jack Cosgrove said James was the fastest player on the team and "developed a taste for the physical side of the game."

CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska (6-3, 220): Jean-Baptiste earned second-team all-Big Ten honors as a senior. He had an interception in each of the Cornhuskers' first four games, including one returned for a touchdown against Brett Favre's alma mater, Southern Mississippi. He would finish the season with those four interceptions and came up with a big sack against Georgia in Nebraska's Gator Bowl victory. Following Jean-Baptiste's participation in the Senior Bowl, due to his intriguing size and physicality he has drawn comparisons to outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, from NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt. Brandt said, "He has rare size, looks like a clone of Richard Sherman. I'm sure the Seahawks like most other teams will be paying close attention to him." Like Sherman, Jean-Baptiste started his college career playing receiver. He made the switch before the Big Ten season started during his sophomore season.

S Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State (6-2, 195): Johnson was a safety when he enrolled at North Carolina State but switched to cornerback before his junior year, and played his final two seasons at that position. He finished his senior season with 82 tackles and a team-high three interceptions. Johnson is a big, physical player, as evidenced by his two starts at linebacker during the 2012 season when his team ran a 4-2-5 nickel defense. He played primarily in the slot when the Wolfpack would bring in their nickel package. His best game during his senior season came against eventual national champion Florida State. Johnson intercepted two passes and recorded eight tackles in a loss. Johnson likes to go bowling when he's not doing something football related.

CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (5-8, 190): In addition to being a unanimous first-team All-American and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards, Joyner was part of this year's national champions. Joyner played everywhere in the secondary. "He's really a good man-to-man guy," defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said before the BCS Championship Game against Auburn. "He can play the ball in the deep part of the field. He can tackle in space. He's a great blitzer. He's just an all-around good football player." He stuffed the stat sheet: Joyner was second on the team with 69 tackles. Among defensive backs, he led the nation with 5.5 sacks. He added two interceptions and three forced fumbles. Joyner played a key role in the championship game against Auburn. With his team trailing 21-13 early in the fourth quarter, Joyner recovered a fumble that eventually led to a touchdown to pull the Seminoles within one. When Joyner committed to Florida State, he became the fourth USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year to sign with Florida State. The other three were David Warren, Antonio Cromartie and Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks.

It was a season to rival that of Florida State icons such as Deion Sanders, LeRoy Butler and Terrell Buckley. "I might not be the biggest guy, but I have the biggest heart," said Joyner, who is 5-foot-8, 190 pounds. "That's all that matters. Football is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physicality. I do the best I can with the mental aspects of the game."

S Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt (6-1, 205): Ladler, a four-year starter, was one of the best safeties in the country. He was first-team all-SEC as a senior, when Ladler finished the season with five interceptions, four of which came in four consecutive games, and an NCAA-high five forced fumbles. He was the only player in the nation with five interceptions and five forced fumbles. The hard-hitting Ladler became the first Vanderbilt defensive back in team history to lead the team in solo tackles in consecutive seasons.

CB Nevin Lawson, Utah State (5-10, 186): Utah State's No. 1 cornerback finished the season with four interceptions, 13 additional passes defensed and five tackles for losses to earn first-team honors in the Mountain West. His best game came against Boise State, when he recorded two interceptions, including one returned 65 yards for a touchdown. Lawson was the fastest player on the team but often was guilty of grabbing receivers early in his career. He broke that habit to become a top cornerback. Lawson looks at himself as a professional and wants to present himself as such. In October, he told the Salt Lake Tribune, "When I'm not feeling up to working, I always ask myself, ‘What would a pro do?' or ‘Would a pro take a day off now?'" Lawson graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

S Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State (5-10, 208): Like teammate Darqueze Dennard, Lewis was a first-team all-Big Ten selection by the coaches. He finished the season with two interceptions and eight pass breakups. Lewis was one of the more outspoken players on the Spartans defense. After losing to the Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012, Lewis told his teammates that night, and throughout 2013, "We're not losing in my hometown again." Lewis and the Spartans would get another shot and achieve redemption when they knocked off unbeaten Ohio State 34-24 in the Big Ten title game. He had a career-high 13 tackles in that game. The question is, can he cover?

S Craig Loston, Louisiana State (6-2, 209): Poston is hard-hitting safety from a school that is becoming widely known for its production of defensive backs. If Loston is drafted, he will join Patrick Peterson, Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu as three of the seven defensive backs who have been drafted from LSU in the last three seasons. Loston finished his senior season with three interceptions, including a big play in LSU's bowl win over Iowa. He was second-team all-conference as a senior and intercepted six passes during his two seasons as a starter. While he was enrolled at LSU, Loston took theater classes and plans to pursue that as a career whenever his football career comes to an end. "I'd like to act in movies," he said. "If I can play football in front of 92,000, I'll have no trouble acting on the big screen. I feel like I do when I'm on the field. You perform like no one is there. When I'm on the field everything goes blank and there's no noise. In both, you put in a lot of hours, come out and perform."

CB Dexter McDougle, Maryland (5-10, 195): McDougle's senior season was off to a good start, with three interceptions and a pick-six in his first three games. However, he missed the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. It was not the first bit of bad luck he'd faced while at Maryland. During his freshman season, McDougle fell off a motor scooter and found his collarbone sticking out of his skin. The injury ended his season, and cost him a chance to play in a bowl game. McDougle, a high school teammate of Ravens star Torrey Smith, returned to practice that spring, and won the starting job at cornerback. He started a total of 23 games in 2011 and 2012.

CB Keith McGill, Utah (6-3, 205): McGill comes into the draft after missing just one game in 2013. McGill missed the majority of 2011 and all of 2012 with various injuries. McGill returned in 2013 and started slowly after the layoff. In his fourth game of the season intercepted a pass against UCLA and returned it for his touchdown. He would finish the year with that one interception and 11 pass breakups to earn an honorable mention on all-Pac-12 team. McGill is the tallest cornerback in the draft, and reminds NFL Network's Mike Mayock of the Seahawks' big defensive backs.

CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon (6-0, 189): Early entrant. Mitchell enters the draft after a junior season that saw him intercept four passes, including one returned for a touchdown against Washington State. In addition to his interceptions, Mitchell defended seven passes and recorded 37 solo tackles. Mitchell has a tattoo of the cartoon character "Underdog" on his back. He felt like an underdog in going from three-star recruit to three-year starter.

CB Jabari Price, North Carolina (5-10, 200): Price's senior season ended with him as an honorable mention on the All-ACC team. Price was a tackling machine, finishing the year with 80 total tackles, including 4.5 for losses, and added nine passes defensed. Parker missed the first four games of his sophomore year after tearing a tendon in his right hand during spring practice, but once he returned he eventually grabbed the starting job and never looked back. He started 11 games as a junior, and all 13 as a senior. He had just two interceptions in his career.

S Calvin Pryor, Louisville (6-2, 208): Early entrant. Pryor is a hard-hitting safety that is capable of making plays in center field. As former defensive coordinator Vance Beford said: "He had three games in a row where he hit somebody and they did not finish the game," Bedford said. "He doesn't want to injure anybody, but he brings a certain physicality that if you're going to throw the ball down the middle of the field, you're going to pay a price." Pryor finished his final season at Louisville with three interceptions and four passes defended despite missing three games. One of those games on the sideline was a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Pryor is one of a few former quarterbacks who have starred at positions other than quarterback under coach Charlie Strong. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a triple-option quarterback at Port St. Joe (Fla.) High School.

CB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (6-0, 190): Early entrant. Purifoy finished the season with two interceptions and six passes defended to earn second-team all-SEC honors. When Purifoy declared for the draft, there was speculation that both he and the university were ready to move on from each other. Purifoy underperformed and ran into some trouble during his final season at Florida. Before the season opener, he and five of his teammates were suspended due to a violation of team rules. He missed a lot of tackles in 2013 but has a strong history on special teams.

S Ed Reynolds, Stanford (6-2, 206): Early entrant. Reynolds is a hard-hitting safety for David Shaw's defense at Stanford. In 2013, he was first-team all-Pac 12 and earned several Al-American honors. Reynolds finished the season building a reputation as someone who was always around the ball. He finished the season with 87 tackles and one interception, which came in Stanford's first game of the season. He also broke up four passes. As a junior, he earned all-conference and All-American honors again, this time with team-high six interceptions -- most by a Cardinal player in three decades. He returned three of those for touchdowns. Reynolds' hitting style was on display when the Cardinal faced off against Arizona State. Reynolds lowered his head and was ejected for targeting when he hit Sun Devils' quarterback Taylor Kelly. Reynolds was suspended for a half for the team's next contest. His father, Ed, played in 135 games as a defensive lineman for the Patriots and Giants over 10 seasons.


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