The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine ended Monday as the defensive backs took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.
There were plenty of storylines surrounding these skilled players, perhaps the deepest positional grouping in this year’s draft. The top cornerback in the draft suffered an injury that may not be so bad, some under-the-radar players saw their stocks tick up a notch and it became even more clear that this group could yield strong returns for years to come.
With the combine over and draft season into its home stretch, this was one of the last opportunities for players to boost their stocks.
Here is what we learned from that opportunity.
Marshon Lattimore’s injury may not impact his draft stock
After former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore suffered a hamstring injury, it seemed like a potential blow to a probable top-10 pick. Because Lattimore has dealt with hamstring issues in the past, another injury could have seriously harmed his stock — especially in a deep cornerback class.
However, Adam Schefter later reported that Lattimore’s injury was not serious and that the cornerback would be ready for his March 23 pro day.
Marshon Lattimore's hamstring "tightened up on him, it's nothing serious," per source. But he is expected to be ready for March 23 pro day.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2017
Lattimore later clarified that it was in fact a hip flexor injury, not a hamstring.
Wasn't a hamstring injury, it's my hip flexor. I'm good y'all lol
— Marshon Lattimore (@shonrp2) March 6, 2017
After a solid combine in which he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, put up a 132-inch broad jump and performed well in other drills, there doesn’t seem to be much that can separate Lattimore from being the top cornerback in this draft.
Obi Melifonwu could sneak into the first round
Few players did better at the combine than UConn safety Obi Melifonwu — one of the biggest winners this year. The 22-year old whose name we will all soon know how to spell ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash and put up a 44” vertical.
Obi Melifonwu at combine:
– Taller than Larry Fitzgerald
– Quicker than Darren Sproles
– Faster than Devin Hester
– Jumps higher than OBJ pic.twitter.com/y230S04CUQ
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 6, 2017
His 11′ 9” broad jump was better than all but one player since 2003.
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 6, 2017
Melifonwu came into the combine a relatively unknown player who likely would have been drafted in the second or third round. He leaves a borderline Day One player after showing off the physical ability that defined his time at UConn.
Jabrill Peppers is going to be something
Former Michigan linebacker/safety Jabrill Peppers may be the biggest question mark of this draft. Nobody knows what to expect from him — or even what position he’ll play — but after the combine, we know he’ll be an asset.
Peppers’ 40-time and his 128” broad jump led linebackers. His 35.5” vertical was fourth among linebackers. The craziest part about this all is that Peppers may not be a linebacker. He worked out with defensive backs as well and wasn’t half-bad. To make this all even more interesting, some teams reportedly view Peppers as an offensive player.
I've talked to two NFL teams this week in Indy who view Michigan's Jabrill Peppers as a better offensive player than defensive player, FWIW.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 5, 2017
All of this is to say that we may have no idea what Jabrill Peppers will be, but after the combine, we can be sure that it’ll be something special. We’re not sure whether he’s a linebacker, safety or something else entirely. What we know Jabrill Peppers is damn good at the game of football, and that counts for something.
Kevin King is a name to watch out for
Former Washington corner Kevin King was under the radar leading up to the combine. Without being a Huskies fan, most would have been hard-pressed to tell you much about him. Well, not anymore.
King’s 39.5” vertical put him fourth among defensive backs, his 6.56-second 3-cone drill led corners at the time of this writing and his 4.43-second 40-yard dash wasn’t half-bad either.
By the end of Monday morning’s activities in Indy, more than a few draftniks were tweeting out praise of King.
Kevin King will be a pro bowl corner
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 6, 2017
You know I'm a BIG fan of @UWAthletics CB Kevin King…and, he's having an excellent Combine, showing full talents. Complete CB skills
— Charles Davis (@CFD22) March 6, 2017
King probably won’t be a Day One player in such a cornerback-heavy draft, but he’s a name to watch out for nonetheless.
This could be one of the best cornerback classes in recent memory
Here’s a confession: We were originally going to do this as a winners and losers column, but there were so few losers that it was impossible.
Between players mentioned here such as Lattimore, King and others such as Washington’s Sidney Jones, USC’s Adoree’ Jackson, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey and Florida’s Teez Tabor, to name a few, it’s tough to be wrong if your team is going with a cornerback this April.
That was thoroughly borne out at the combine.
Bad day for free agent cornerbacks.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 6, 2017
For cornerback-needy teams such as the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, this draft could be a gold mine.