While the Combine is about to end, a huge position for the Browns, safety, closes out the week-long event in Indianapolis.
Sunday’s coverage is the defensive backfield with safeties and cornerbacks. The action begins at 2:00 p.m. (eastern) and concludes around 7:00 p.m. The “Run, Rich, Run” aspect of the combine will happen during this day as well as the DB’s run their 40 times.
If you missed the article the DBN staff collaborated with analysis on key safety rookies, click this link:
While every Browns’ fan realizes that the franchise will need a safety or two this off-season via the draft or through free agency, on paper, Cleveland appears to be good at the cornerback position. Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are two productive, young corners with Terrance Mitchell as the primary backup. But since the club waived veteran T.J. Carrie recently, this leaves only unproven players as depth such as Donnie Lewis, Jr., Robert Jackson and special teams ace Tavierre Thomas. There is a rule in the NFL: you cannot have too many great cornerbacks.
Here are 10 safeties and cornerbacks to watch during the skills, drills and running events of players that should be available when Cleveland is on the clock in each round. Please not that the fourth and fifth-round selection slots will change once compensatory picks are assigned.
First-round pick #10
CB Kristian Fulton - LSU: 6’, 0” 200 pounds
Awards: Second Team All-SEC (2019), National Champion (2019)
The best cornerback in this year’s draft is Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah, but he is a Top 5 pick. Since this article focuses on players that should be available when the Browns select, his analysis is skipped over to Fulton. A key defensive part of the National Champions, he is an elite player but needs some discipline with tackling. Man coverage is a different story as he is a game-changer. Is excellent in reading receivers and has good reactionary moves in anticipation. Has an incredible knack of timing his jumps at the catchpoint and cannot be fooled on routes. Willing to attack the runner and should be an excellent outside corner.
SS Grant Delpit - LSU: 6’, 3” 201 pounds
Awards: First Team All-SEC (2018), Consensus All-American (2018), National Champion (2019), First Team All-SEC (2019), Consensus All-American (2019), Jim Thorpe Award winner (2019)
If you like tall safeties who can lay the wood, you will love Delpit. Played in a tough conference and saw lots of quality receivers and still shined. Highly-decorated athlete even as a sophomore, Just an amazing athlete who offers every checked box. Yes, he will be available with the 10th overall pick, but the looming question will be would the Browns take him and pass on several elite offensive tackles? A three-year starter on a defense which did not offer many openings, yet Delpit is a beast of a player. Is a scrapper even when the receiver catches the rock and is very physical. Versatility is a huge plus because this dude can play any position in the defensive backfield. Whoever gets this guy is going to be very happy for many years. Zero character issues. Should be taken later in the first-round, but will be gone by pick 41.
Second-round pick #41
SS Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Minnesota: 5’, 10” 195 pounds
Awards: Unanimous First-Team All-American (2019), First-Team All Big 10 (2019), Big 10 Defensive Back-of-the-Year (2019), Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist (2019)
Is an attacker of the receiver and has played a ton of deep ball. Very well-decorated his final season and is just 21 years old. Very smooth techniques with decent reach. Doesn’t have any issues coming in to make a tackle, but needs some pointers on finishing. Very quick game and rarely caught off-guard. Competitive and can change the game. Smaller frame but is built with explosiveness at times and has great closing speed. Elite range. His father played in the NFL.
CB Jeff Gladney – TCU: 6’, 0” 183 pounds
Awards: Second Team All-Big 12 (2018), First Team All-Big 12 (2019)
Excellent tackler and willing to come down and take on bigger running backs and tight ends. A good finisher on tackles. Good closing speed on receivers after the catch with good speed. Needs more girth on his body at the next level and should instantly become the dime corner. Can put pressure on his safety at times and needs to stay with his man a tad longer. Will need to not be so hand grabby in the NFL which he got away with often in college. Good ball skills and excelled as a gunner on punts.
CB Trevon Diggs – Alabama: 6’, 2” 207 pounds
Awards: National Champion (2017), First Team All-SEC (2019)
Played big against big competition in a tough conference. Also a kick returner with burner speed. Two-year starter but played all four years. Zone coverage is his specialty but is inconsistent in man coverage. Not the best tackler. Strong player for his size with excellent range. Does not anticipate the catchpoint very well but is a fighter. Willing to hit receivers off the snap and is a fluent cover guy.
FS Ashtyn Davis – California: 6’, 4” 195 pounds
Awards: First-Team All Pac 12 (2018), Second-Team All Pac 12 (2019), Burlsworth Trophy finalist (best walk-on player - 2019)
One word: fast. Former track star usually getting 4.39 in the 40. Very physical and an excellent tackler. Has zero issues taking on bigger receivers and tight ends. Willing to come down to support the run game. Kick return guy as well. Long arms with great reach. Doesn’t do everything well and needs better instincts for the safety position. Can play in the box or slot also, so versatility is a plus. Played against tough competition with 44 college starts. 166 career tackles.
Third-round picks #74 and #90
CB Jaylon Johnson – Utah: 6’, 0” 190 pounds
Awards: First Team All-Pac 12 (2018), First Team All-Pac 12 (2019)
The early portion of the third-round may be too late to hope Johnson is lurking because he has been getting lots of love recently, but the cornerback position in this year’s draft is absolutely loaded with talent and somebody has to slip down. Was lined-up on every opponent’s best receiver for two seasons, Johnson can shut down the best – every game. Is very fast and just might run in the 4.3 to 4.4 range on Sunday, so recovery skills are an asset. Very disciplined with man coverage and is physical even with taller receivers. Could very well be the fourth or fifth CB taken this year. A bit of a gambler and needs to improve his technique, but would be an excellent nickel or dime player until he gets his feet wet.
FS/SS Kyle Dugger – 6’, 1” 215 pounds
Awards: Second-Team All SAC (2017), AFCA All-American (2018), First-Team All SAC (2018), AFCA All-American (2019), First-Team All SAC (2019), Cliff Harris Award (best small school defensive player – 2019)
Heavy riser since his success at the Senior Bowl. Not exceptional reach, but he is strong and able to handle larger receivers. Exceptional versatility with multiple positions just plug and play. Known for his hitting abilities, physically, and excellent ball skills. Can dominate receivers in space and is a force in run support. Small college player that at first seems to be a disadvantage until you see him dominate receivers and the vicious hits he emits. Pure athlete, but not polished. Will need some grooming and start off as the nickel, but is smart and wants to learn.
Fourth-round pick #105
S Jeremy Chinn – Southern Illinois: 6’, 3” 219 pounds
Awards: First Team Freshman All-American (2016), Second Team All-MVFC (2017), First Team All-MVFC (2018), Consensus All-American (2019), First Team All-MVFC (2019), Buck Buchanan Award finalist (2019)
Intelligent player graduated with a 3.55 GPA. Instinctive in the run game. Long arms for good reach with good functional power. Very strong. Moves exceptionally well. Had a great Senior Bowl week which elevated his draft status. Excellent tackler, finished with 243 total tackles during his college career. Is a big kid and will get after the ballcarrier. Academic All-American three years as well as a three-year starter with 36 total starts. High character guy. Not a good man coverage guy and has allowed too much cushion on occasion that will need to be cleaned up at the next level, but very adaptable.
Fifth-round pick #167
S J.R. Reed – Georgia: 6’, 1” 194 pounds
Awards: Second Team All-SEC (2017), First Team All-SEC (2019), Consensus All-American (2019)
Reed is a very good tackler and can play well in the box with aggression. Run support is no issue and wants to drive his opponent into the turf. Not a deep zone coverage guy with limited range. Good football player but average athlete. Played well his senior season in a tough conference and named All-American. Better at man coverage schemes and an active hand fighter. Not a lot of interceptions during his career, but tons of tackles and pass breakups. Good enough closing speed and has exceptional ball skills in tight coverage, just don’t expect his presence in the deep zone. Played some nickel in college which is were he will start his NFL career.