INDIANAPOLIS -- The second night of workouts at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, with the defensive backs taking center stage on Friday.
While several prospects chose not to perform all of the athleticism tests, many of those who partook in the events at Lucas Oil Stadium wowed scouts with their speed in the 40-yard dash, their agility in shuttle drills and their explosiveness in the broad and vertical jumps. Some exceeded expectations, causing their draft stock to rise; others displayed flaws in their speed and/or athleticism (or chose not to perform), hurting their chances of being selected on Day 1 or Day 2 when the draft begins in Kansas City, Missouri (April 27-29).
Below, I list five former college stars who undoubtedly impressed the league's personnel decision-makers with their test results and on-field performance. I also list five players who could use a strong effort at their school's pro day to leave the most favorable impression possible before the draft.
It was expected that the ever-athletic Banks would put on a show at the combine, and he did not disappoint. His 4.35-second 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical and 11-foot-4 broad were impressive, with him checking in at 197 pounds. The former Terp handled the transition drills adeptly despite his thick build and he caught nearly everything thrown his way, including high-pointing passes downfield when given the chance. Banks' length is not elite -- 31 3/8-inch arms and 77 1/8-inch wingspan -- but he projects as a top 50 pick.
Measuring 6-1 3/8, 197 pounds, Gonzalez confirmed his plus athleticism with a 4.38 40, a 41 1/2-inch vertical and 11-foot-1 broad jump. His length is average (32-inch arms), but his smooth movement during position drills separated him from the pack. Gonzalez snatched passes from the air, backpedaled efficiently and went through every drill without an issue. Aside from one stumble in transition and one early drop, everything just seemed easy for one of the top cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Hill planted his flag in Indianapolis as a likely Day 2 pick with an outstanding 4.43 40 (1.5-second 10-yard split). The 5-10, 193-pound safety's jumps were not off the charts (35 1/2-inch vertical, 10-foot-3 broad jump), but his on-field work stood out. The former Pitt star made multiple impressive catches, high-pointing deep throws and extending far outside his frame to grab passes headed for the sideline. While he won't be confused for a corner due to his tight hips, Hill moved well enough in the open field to show teams he can be effective covering ground in zone coverage.
I went with Martin here, but I could have easily gone with his Illinois teammate, Sydney Brown, who posted a 4.47 40, 40 1/2-inch vertical and 10-foot-10 broad at 5-10 3/4 and 211 pounds. Martin had an impressive day, clearing 44 inches in the vertical jump and 11-foot-1 in the broad jump, and running a 4.46 40 with a scalding 1.47 10-yard split. The versatile defender showed that athleticism during drills, as well, displaying straight-line explosiveness and a strong backpedal. His hips and transitions were among the best in the safety group, and he proved why Illinois trusted him at corner, safety and nickel during his career.
Turner flew Friday inside Lucas Oil Stadium, clocking a 4.26 40 -- the fastest time through two days of the combine -- with an excellent 1.47 10-yard split. The 5-foot-11 corner only weighed in at 178 pounds, but his time is outstanding, regardless of weight. His jumps further illustrated that explosive speed (38 1/2-inch vertical, 10-foot-11 broad jump). He did not take part in on-field drills, but teams should be well aware of his movement skills from watching his tape.
Forbes weighed in at just 166 pounds (with small hands for the position at 8 1/2 inches) despite measuring over 6 feet tall. That's extremely lean for a pro cornerback. Forbes recorded a 4.35-second 40, but Banks ran the same time at 197 pounds. Forbes struggled in transition drills on Friday, too. He showed a natural ability to catch the ball, which was no surprise given his 14 career interceptions (with an FBS record six returned for scores).
Joseph was an All-American in 2020 at Northwestern but made just 30 tackles and intercepted only one pass as a Notre Dame transfer last season. I found his combine performance lacking, as he ran a 4.62-second 40 at 202 pounds and posted uninspiring results in the jumps (30 1/2-inch vertical, 9-foot-10 broad jump). His 30 7/8-inch arms did not impress, and his work on the field did not excite. He looked slow in transition and was not very fluid in his drops. Joseph missed out on an opportunity to bolster his case for a selection in the draft’s first 100 picks.
Phillips measured just 5-foot-9 at the combine, with 29 1/8-inch arms. His dimensions could make it tough for a team to select him in the top 50. He looked quicker than fast in drills, which is good because he ran a very average 4.51-second 40 at 184 pounds. Phillips has fluid hips to transition easily but he was not able to cover a lot of ground during his workout and he occasionally lost his balance making cuts. He displayed the ball skills that helped him intercept six passes last season, but it's hard to project an early Day 2 draft selection based on his physical traits.
Ringo's size and physicality are his calling cards, as his 6-foot-1 3/4-inch, 207-pound frame would indicate. But his arm (31 1/4 inches) and hand measurements (8 1/2) were not ideal for a corner who will need to be able to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Ringo's explosiveness did not appear in the jumps (33 1/2-inch vertical, 10-foot-2 broad), but he did post a good 40 time (4.36 seconds). His work in drills on the field was adequate. He showed ball skills and moved downhill quickly at times, but his fluidity was unexceptional when dropping into space.
NFL coaches should love Witherspoon's competitiveness and quick feet. He's a first-round talent. However, his combine measurements (5-foot-11 1/2, 181 pounds, 31 1/4-inch arms, 73 5/8-inch wingspan) did not scream top-10 pick. A hamstring issue prevented him from working out in Indianapolis, where he would have put his short-area quickness and ball skills on display. I think he’ll need an elite pro day performance if he’s going to be picked inside the top 10, like Denzel Ward, instead of in the middle of Round 1, like Trent McDuffie, who went 21st to the Chiefs last year.