Anonymous scouting takes must be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to the NFL draft.
Is the person dispensing unbiased information? How much have they seen the players? Do they know what they're talking about?
Keep all those things in mind when you read the impressions of one college defensive backs coach, a man who has spent the past 15 years in various defensive roles at a few different schools and who has coached defensive backs for more than a decade total.
This coach decided to make the trip up to Indianapolis for the final day of testing at the NFL scouting combine and watch the DBs work out. So mind you, it was the first time he saw many of these players in person — and it was one workout. But he also traded notes with scouts in attendance and passed along what he saw to PFW.
Again, this is not gospel by any means. But there were some interesting nuggets, we thought. So here they are on a few select cornerbacks and safeties who worked out Monday, plus what some scouts told our coaching friend:
Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick — “Fitz is real. Five-tool player. Will be a big-time safety. Ballhawk, fast, smart, loves ball, can cover the slot. He's big time.”
Florida State S Derwin James — “Will play safety. Not going to grow into a [weakside linebacker]. He's got a sleek frame, not a Shawn Taylor body type or Mark Barron. Looked really good, fluid. High-pointed the ball well. He's a natural leader, you can tell. I am good friends with the coaches there ... they love James. Great character.”
Stanford S Justin Reid — “He's from Dutchtown [High School near] Baton Rouge — same school as Landon Collins, Eddie Lacy, his brother [Eric Reid]. So it's a football school. [Justin Reid] moved really well. He's not a ballhawk — didn't judge the ball well. Great straight-line speed. Smart. Will be a box guy — not a five-tool guy that can play in the box, cover [No. 2 receivers] and get takeaways. But he's a first-rounder. It's Fitz, James, then Reid.”
LSU CB Kevin Toliver II — “He did well doing position drills. His questions: speed and a lot of baggage. Was suspended at LSU. He had a big-time freshman year. Did progress sophomore and junior years.”
Wisconsin CB Nick Nelson — “He did really well. I have no idea where scouts have him [rated], but I think he’s really good.”
UCF CB Mike Hughes — “Was thought to be a 4.3 guy. Scouts were disappointed.”
LSU CB Donte Jackson — “That [dude] was flying. I like Donte, but he's small. Will play nickel corner in the NFL. Reminds me of [Baltimore Ravens DB] Lardarius Webb. Donte played safety this year also. He will be a third- or fourth-round guy. If he can return kicks, will be a sure third-round guy. He adds some value, but I don't think he's a kick returner — I'm not sure about that.”
Iowa CB Josh Jackson — “He was not good [Monday]. Scouts got him at 4.57 to 4.62 [his electronic 40-yard time was 4.56]. He looked stiff. If you’re taking him with a first-round pick, that's risky to me.”
Ohio State CB Denzel Ward — “Big time. First round. Denzel is real.”
Louisville CB Jaire Alexander — “Also big time. I think he’s [a first-rounder].”
Alabama CB Anthony Averett — “Not good [in drills Monday].”
Stanford DB Quenton Meeks — “Coach’s son. Looks good. He is a beast too but young. If Meeks can run, he's a first-rounder. Meeks did great in drills, but he didn't run [the 40].”
Texas CB Holton Hill — “Scouts love him, but he’s got a lot of baggage.”
Maryland CB J.C. Jackson — “That guy surprised a lot of people.”