The NFL Combine has concluded as quickly as it came as the defensive back prospects from all around the country competed to raise their draft stocks ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft in April.
For the Jaguars, they’ll be in the market for a defensive back or two after trading star cornerback Jalen Ramsey during the 2019 regular season for two first round picks — one in 2020, and one in 2021 —, along with a fourth round pick as a consolation in 2021. With lingering unknown regarding the roster-status of seventh-year cornerback A.J. Bouye, the Jaguars could enter the draft without a starting cornerback opposite of rising third-year cornerback Tre Herndon.
The final day of the Combine showed fans, scouts, and the media plenty regarding some of the best football players in the country. With pure athleticism and outstanding ball-skills, plenty of defensive backs laid the foundation for one of the most intriguing defensive back classes in quite some time.
Although the Jaguars recently picked up safety Jarrod Wilson’s option, locking him with the team for the next two seasons, there is a chance the team falls in love with a prospect, adding competition to the defensive backfield.
While there aren’t a lot of sure-fire top-10 picks in the defensive back race, there are plenty of capable day-one starters in the horizon, let’s take a look.
Jeffery Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The star of the class, Okudah showcased once again why he is thought of as the number one cornerback prospect, and a likely top-five selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Although his workout was cut short for precautionary reasons following an awkward fall early on in the session, Okudah was able to complete his athletic testing, and performed exceptionally.
Athletically? Okudah was a star. After measuring in at 6-1, 205 pounds, the former Ohio State product put up a respectable time in the 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds, with gaudy numbers in the vertical (41 inches) and broad jump (135 inches).
With a vertical jump of 41 inches, Okudah was posted the third-best score of all time, according to Pro Football Reference. For reference: Ramsey scored a 41.5 inch vertical jump in 2016 at the NFL Combine. Okudah also tied the record for longest broad jump.
C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
It should come as a surprise to no one that both Okudah and Henderson performed the best at the NFL Combine this year. Both players are expected to go in round one, and while Henderson may not have the same top-five-selection pedigree as Okudah does, he will most certainly be selected in the second round.
Concerns arose in 2019 regarding just how physical Henderson, 6-0, 204 pounds, actually was due to his work in the run-game, however his coverage skills cannot be debated as far. With Okudah sitting out most of the workout, Henderson was far-and-away the most fluid defensive back at the Combine yesterday. Effortlessly getting in-and-out of his breaks, Henderson’s technical skills are refined.
Former Florida CB C.J. Henderson looked smooth in defensive back drills at the 2020 NFL Combine: pic.twitter.com/hIJnNzE5DA— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) March 2, 2020
The former Florida All-SEC Defensive First Team defensive back was somehow even more impressive in his athletic testing. With a staggering 4.39 40-yard dash, Henderson solidified himself as one of the fastest defensive backs participating at the Combine (tied for third-fastest).
Henderson wasn’t as explosive as Okudah, but his 37.5 inch vertical jump was nothing to scoff at. Overall, Henderson made some money on Sunday.
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
As a little-known safety out of Lenoir-Rhyne, Dugger put on a show during Sunday’s defensive back portion of the 2020 NFL Combine. Projected to get drafted in rounds two or three, Dugger illustrated on Sunday it may not matter where you’re from as a prospect just as long as you produce.
In 42 games played, Dugger produced 237 tackles (152 solo) along with 10 interceptions, 36 passes defensed, and six forced fumbles. On Sunday, Dugger raised his draft stock with his outstanding athletic numbers.
With great size Dugger, 6-0, 217 pounds, posted an unbelievable vertical jump of 42 inches — tied for third-best all-time by a safety, according to Pro Football Reference. Dugger graded out with great speed with a 4.49 40-yard dash. If the the safety out of Lenoir-Rhyne was not known yet, he will be now.
Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
In an attempt to one-up his fellow Clemson teammate, Isaiah Simmons, Muse looked phenomenal during testing on Sunday. Scoring an RAS (relative athletic score) score of 9.97, Muse just beat out Dugger for best of the class.
While there has been talk of Muse converting to linebacker at the next level, he showed on Sunday that he has the speed and athleticism it takes to be a safety at the next level. In four years while playing at Clemson, Muse recorded 191 total tackles (36 solo), 10 tackles for loss, and seven interceptions.
With a 40-yard dash time of 4.41 seconds, Muse showcased his speed in good fashion. At 6-2, 227 pounds, the ability to run as fast and jump as high (34.5 inch vertical) as muse did on Sunday is outstanding.
Honorable mentions: LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, Minnesota safety Antonie Winfield Jr., Utah slot cornerback Javelin Guidry.