Defensive backs close out the Combine

The Vikings will be studying the top defensive backs in workouts Monday at the Scouting Combine. Read up on the top options available at safety and cornerback.

The final day of Combine workouts will take place today as cornerbacks and safeties take center stage. While the Vikings have a pair of potential Pro Bowlers in their secondary – safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes – if Mike Zimmer can convince G.M. Rick Spielman that a defensive back with the 11th pick is the way to go, the Vikings’ first-round pick could well be on the field in Indianapolis Monday. NFL Combine Coverage
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What makes the Vikings’ selection at No. 11 interesting is that there is a very strong likelihood that if defensive back is what they want, they should still have their choice of players to select from because, at No. 11, there are several scenarios in which none of them have come off the board yet.

That isn’t to say there isn’t talent at both the cornerback and safety positions. Michigan State’s Trae Waynes heads a class that could produce four or five first-round picks, and Alabama safety Landon Collins may well be the first defensive back off the board when the picks start flying.

Here is a look at some of the top cornerbacks and safeties that will be working out Monday and, just maybe, be one of the players that ends up with the Vikings on draft weekend.

Trae Waynes, Michigan StateHe’s arguably the most NFL-ready corner in the draft who has plenty of experience in man coverage deep down the field. He is solid in run support, but is thin-framed and may struggle against physical wide receivers at the point of attack. He’s a big-play type who will likely start from Day 1.

Marcus Peters, WashingtonA solid, physical specimen who played his best against the best competition and is a strong tackler. He’s been dogged with the tag of a boom-bust prospect because he was kicked off the Huskies after multiple run-ins with the coaching staff. He has the talent to be a first-rounder, but will slide farther than he should because he could be viewed as a coach killer.

Jalen Collins, LSUHe has prototype size (6-1, 203) and has an excellent blend of size, speed and arm length. He’s very fluid when asked to turn and run with receivers deep downfield. He isn’t as strong back-pedaling and will bite too often on sharp cuts and double moves. His weaknesses, however, are coachable and curable, which should elevate his stock as the draft nears.

Kevin Johnson, Wake ForestHe has better-than-average cover skills and has good hip movement to flip and run with receivers downfield. He has excellent ball awareness skills and has elite recovery skills when he takes a misstep. He can be overaggressive at times and is prone to getting burned by quarterbacks who set him up with pump fakes and receivers with double moves.

P.J. Williams, Florida State He possesses a strong mix of speed and physical play that scouts look for in outside-the-hashes cover corners. He is a willing and aggressive tackler. However, he gets himself out of position too often trying to force the issue and surrenders too many big plays. He needs technique refinement, but, in the right system, has all the tools to succeed.

Landon Collins, AlabamaA heavy hitter with a penchant for ripping the ball loose, he plays like a cornerback and hits like a linebacker. He is going to be the only safety likely to go in the first round and the distance between him and the next-best safety in the draft is as distant as any position in the draft.

Derron Smith, Fresno StateThe best ball hawk among this year’s draft class, he goes after passes like a wide receiver. He covers a lot of ground and times his leaps extremely well. He is smaller than most NFL safeties (5-10, 200) and struggles to get away from blockers when run plays pop in the open field.

Ibraheim Campbell, NorthwesternA student of the game and excellent technician, he rarely misses tackles in the open field. He’s a big hitter who is always closing on the ball. He needs to improve his coverage skills because his aggression will take him out of some plays.

Jacquiski Tartt, Samford – At his best in run support and on the attack, he has the size and physicality and has one of the most impressive big-hit highlight films of any defender in the draft. He doesn’t have ideal straight-line speed or change-of-direction skills, which will lower his stock somewhat.

Cody Prewitt, Ole MissHe takes very good angles and is technically sound. He plays with a lot of aggression and always looks to deliver the blowup hit. But he bites too often on play fakes and misdirection and doesn’t have the ideal makeup speed to overcome it.


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