The NFL’s 2020 scouting combine is in the books, after the last portion of on-field workouts took place Sunday afternoon. Cornerbacks and safeties hit the Lucas Oil Stadium field, and among the standout performances also were some players who might very well find themselves on the New England Patriots’ radar as we’re getting closer to late April’s draft. Considering their depth at cornerback, however, it seems likely that safety is more important from the Patriots’ perspective.
This is especially true considering that Devin McCourty is scheduled to enter free agent later this month, and that both he and Patrick Chung will be 33 years old when the new season gets kicked off. The list of potential draft targets who helped or hurt their stock on Sunday therefore is heavily tilted towards the safety position and does not include outstanding performers such as Florida cornerback J.C. Henderson.
With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the defensive backs who took the field yesterday.
SS Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
Henderson stole the show at the cornerback position, while Jeremy Chinn did the same at safety. Even though he did not participate in all the drills — he sat out the 3-cone drill and short shuttle — the Southern Illinois product had a terrific day at the office: Chinn ran the 40-yard dash in an outstanding 4.45 seconds despite being measured at 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, and also had 20 reps in the bench press. He truly shined in the jumps, though.
Chinn had a 41-inch vertical and also registered a 138-inch broad jump:
11’6” broad jump.— NFL (@NFL) March 1, 2020
Safety Jeremy Chinn brought the HOPS to the #NFLCombine.@ChinnJeremy2 | @SIU_Football pic.twitter.com/QKwkqUeGNB
Kent Lee Platte from Pride of Detroit further analyzed the numbers to calculate a Relative Athletic Score — and only two players reached a better number than Chinn during the combine. J.C. Henderson and Clemons linebacker Isaiah Simmons both scored a perfect 10.0 while Chinn registered a 9.99. Originally projected to come off the board late on day three, the 22-year-old showed that he belongs in the top 100 selections.
FS Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhine
A small-school prospect who brings a raw skillset to the table but might need some additional development before being considered a starting-caliber defender, Kyle Dugger showed that his athletic foundation is a strong one to build upon. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds and also looked terrific in the vertical (42 inches) and broad jumps (134 inches). Like Chinn, he appears to be well on his way to become a day two selection — coming off the board possibly as early as the second round.
CB Javelin K. Guidry, Utah
As noted above, the Patriots are not in the market for a cornerback with Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones and 2019 second-round pick Joejuan Williams atop the depth chart. That being said, if the value presents itself the team could very much invest in the position either way. One player who might cause the team to pull the trigger on day three is Javelin K. Guidry, the fastest among the combine’s cornerbacks:
4️⃣.3️⃣0️⃣@Utah_Football CB Javelin Guidry runs a 4.30u 40-yard dash @Jav__K— NFL (@NFL) March 1, 2020
: #NFLCombine on @NFLNetwork
: https://t.co/vDFxxNddNZ pic.twitter.com/8eiDk1LdGm
Running the 40-yard dash in an official 4.29 seconds, Guidry became just the seventh cornerback in combine history to finish the race in under 4.3 seconds. His tremendous day didn’t end there, though, as the Utah product also had 21 reps on the bench press. How outstanding is that number? He is the only player since 2003 to run a sub-4.3 40 and get that many reps on the bench.
SS Tanner Muse, Clemson
While Chinn’s Relative Athletic Score was the best among all safeties, Tanner Muse’s 9.97 was not far behind — an impressive achievement for a player who is fighting to make it onto team’s boards as a potential late-round selection:
Tanner Muse is a SS prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Clemson.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 2, 2020
He posted an elite #RAS with elite size, elite speed, good explosiveness, at the SS position.https://t.co/j5Rl8flZeo pic.twitter.com/q69CBxTevZ
Measured at 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, Muse had a solid albeit unspectacular vertical jump (34.5). He really stood out with his 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds), however, as well as his 20 bench press reps and 124-inch broad jump. Will his raw athletic profile be enough to get him drafted? That remains to be seen, but given his size a team like the Patriots might be willing to take a late-round flyer and use him in a safety/linebacker hybrid role and on special teams.
SS K’Von Wallace, Clemson
K’Von Wallace is neither the biggest — 5-foot-11, 206 pounds — nor the fastest defensive back as his 4.53 40-yard dash showed, but his agility numbers were among the best all day. The Clemson product had a 6.76-second 3-cone drill and 4.15 short shuttle, and also looked good in the vertical (38 inches) and the broad jump (133 inches). Wallace’s versatility makes him an intriguing target in one of the middle rounds in late April, and his strong workout only add to this perspective.
FS Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota
Winfield entered the draft as a possible pick in the late first round due to his intelligence and ability to play both as a deep safety and closer to the box. His combine certainly helped boost his stock as the potential third safety to come off the board behind Alabama’s Xavier McKinney and LSU’s Grant Delpit: Winfield looked good moving through the various on-field drills and also posted solid numbers in the workout-portion, finishing the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds while also registering a 36-inch vertical and 124-inch broad jump.
FS Xavier McKinney, Alabama
The Alabama safety, who is a popular mock draft pick for the Patriots, did not have a bad day per se. However, an apparent injury led to him finishing the 40-yard dash in just 4.64 seconds — a time that is not reflective of his tape as one of the rangiest defensive backs to enter this year’s draft. McKinney is still expected to get drafted in the first round, but his injury status will be worth keeping a close eye on. The same can also be said about his pro day workout on March 24.
SS Jalen Elliott, Notre Dame
A physical safety who is trying to become a mid-round selection, Elliott had an up and down Sunday: he finished the 3-cone drill in 6.87 seconds and also had a 125-inch broad jump. His 40-yard dash of just 4.8 seconds was the slowest among all safeties participating in the workout, however, while his 15 bench press reps were only slightly better in comparison to his peers. All in all, however, Elliott did not help his stock.
CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Arnette entered the draft with questions about his maturity, so the interview process might have been more important for his stock than the actual on-field workout. That being said, he did not convince on Sunday: Arnette ran the 40-yard dash in just 4.56 seconds before sitting out the other drills. While he is a high-upside player that could be drafted as early as the second round, his 40-time did not really help him.really help him.