clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 NFL Scouting Combine: Winners from Day 2 cornerback and safety workouts

Which defensive backs showed out at Indy?

NFL Combine
Sydney Brown
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The second day of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, and with it the defensive portion of the on-field workouts.

The New York Giants secondary was held together by duct tape and bubblegum for much of 2022. It worked out, but it’s also a concern considering how heavily defensive coordinator Wink Martindale relies on his coverage players to facilitate his exotic blitz schemes. This year’s secondary class is talented at the top and deep throughout the depth chart. That’s great for the Giants, who could be keenly interested in adding to the back end of their defense.

So who were the winners on the field today?

Deonte Banks and Jakorian Bennett

I’m going to lump the Maryland cornerbacks together, because they started off the day very strongly.

Both players each turned in a pair of 4.3 second 40-yard dashes — 4.30 for Bennet and 4.35 seconds for Banks.

It’s a mark of just how deep the defensive side of the ball is in this draft that Banks is generally considered a Top-50 player, but also somewhat “under the radar”. He tested as one of the most explosive corners in this draft class with a 42-inch vertical as well as an 11-foot, 4-inch broad jump.

Bennett isn’t as highly regarded, but he belonged on the same field as his teammate. Both players are obviously fast, but they were also pretty fluid for such twitchy players.

Scouts will certainly be going back to Bennett’s tape after this, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Banks continue to rise up draft boards.

Kelee Ringo (CB, Georgia)

Anyone who’s watched him knows he is an impressive athlete. However, he’s also a work in progress as a cornerback and his draft stock steadily dropped over the course of the season.

But today he was able to remind scouts and coaches just how athletic he is. Not only did he have a great 4.36 second 40 at 6-foot 1¾ inches, 207 pounds, but he was quick, smooth, and fluid in the field drills. He looked natural flipping his hips and was able to carry his speed from backpedal to sprint.

He can’t say he didn’t get good coaching at Georgia, but NFL coaches will probably eager to prove that they’re the ones who can unlock Ringo’s potential.

DJ Turner (CB, Michigan)

We knew Turner was an impressive athlete — after all, he made the 2022 edition of Bruce Feldman’s Freak’s List for his blazing speed. But this is an athletic draft class, and so far he’s the fastest player on the property. His official 4.26 second 40-yard dash is only 0.04 seconds off of John Ross’ record of 4.22.

Turner has typically been a later Day 2 pick, but NFL teams do love speed and this could boost his draft stock.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen Turner do the entire workout. But even so, his run was impressive enough.

Emmanuel Forbes (CB, Mississippi State)

  • Height - check
  • Speed - check
  • Length - check
  • Production - check

Weight? Therein lies the rub for Forbes.

Forbes has a lot of traits that scouts love to see in cornerbacks. He has good height and length at 6-foot¾ inches with 32¼-inch arms. He turned back-to-back 4.3 second 40s (4.35 seconds, officially), and has incredible ball production with 20 passes defensed and 14 interceptions (6 of which he returned for a touchdown) in three seasons. But he also only weighs 166 pounds, and is very slightly built. Teams are going to have to weigh (ah-ha-ha) concerns about Forbes’ weight with his potential upside.

Forbes was in pretty good company today.

Sydney Brown (S, Illinois)

Sydney Brown was a versatile player for a good Illinois secondary, and he showed why today. Not only did he have one of the best 40s among the safety group with a 4.47, but he was also explosive with a 40.5 inch vertical and 10-foot-10 broad jump. He also has quick, active feet and surprisingly fluid hips in the field drills.

Brown might only be 5-foot 9¾ inches, but he’s a thick (almost) 5-10 at 211 pounds, and is built like an action figure. He showed the quickness to play coverage close to the line of scrimmage, as well as the range to man a deep coverage zone. Brown also has a reputation as a good special teams player on coverage teams.

Ji’Ayir Brown (S, Penn State)

Ji’Ayir Brown didn’t run the fastest 40 at 4.65 seconds — in fact, his measurable events were downright disappointing.

However, he was uniquely productive for Penn State this year, with 4.5 sacks and 4 interceptions on the year (to go with 3 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles, and 6 interceptions a year ago). If his measurables hurt his draft stock, his field workout showed why he was so productive. Brown had some of the most fluid movement skills of any safety on the field and changed direction almost as effortlessly as the cornerbacks.

It’s also notable that Brown had the top speed among all the safeties in the gauntlet drill.

Ji’Ayir Brown is the kind of player who reminds scouts that the Combine is a tool — nothing more. Numbers are great and can either confirm what you saw or send you back to the tape, but the tape has to be king.

Brandon Hill (S, Pitt)

Calijah Kancey wasn’t the only Pitt Panther to show out at the Combine. Hill had a great workout and turned in the fastest 40 time among the safeties with a 4.42. As with so many of these safeties, Hill moved much better than we’re used to seeing from safeties, particularly ones who are listed as “strong safeties”.

We haven’t heard much buzz about the safety class this year, and most of the conversation has been about the corners and edge defenders. But either we’re going to see these safeties rise up the draft board after today or teams will be finding gems on the third day of the draft.

Daniel Scott (S, Cal)

I’m not sure how many people thought that Scott was going to be the most athletic safety in this draft class before today’s workout, but he was.

Not only did he have an eyebrow-raising 4.45 second 40-yard dash (to go with a 39.5-inch vert and 10-foot-8 broad jump), he also moved very well all evening long.

The safety class isn’t as good as the cornerback or front seven classes, Scott looked like he belonged with the top safeties in this draft class. He’s another player who sent scouts and coaches back to the tape.