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List of draftable defensive backs who meet Packers’ testing benchmarks is small in 2020

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Just one cornerback and one safety hit the Packers’ typical athletic cutoffs in Indy. Without further testing, a few more might be in play, however. Here’s a list of the DBs who should be on the Packers’ board.

Nebraska v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers’ athletic testing benchmarks for NFL Draft prospects are well-established at this point, and the team may stick to their number cutoffs more tightly in the secondary than at any other position. The team might bend slightly on one number for a player if he’s right near the borderline — think about Jaire Alexander’s 5102 height in 2018 — but generally the team has stuck tightly to their guns on three areas: height, speed, and agility.

For height, the team typically likes players who come in above 5-foot-10-1/2. Alexander was a slight bit shorter at 5-foot-10-1/4, and as GM Brian Gutekunst said at this year’s NFL Combine, he was right at “the Mendoza line,” alluding to the cutoff mark. According to Justis Mosqueda’s research a few years ago, the speed benchmark for DBs is typically a 40 time of 4.57 seconds or less, while the team likes 3-cone times at 6.83 or faster.

Looking back at recent draft picks, the cone time probably has a bit more flexibility. Cornerback Josh Jackson had a time of 6.86, leading me to move the cutoff there instead. So for DBs, look primarily for players over 5104 (with the team possibly being willing to stretch to 5100 if everything else checks out), a 40 time of 4.57, and cone times at or faster than 6.86 seconds, with times up to 6.95 being a possible borderline.

As Packers fans have seen this year, Pro Dan cancellations due to the coronavirus and skipped workouts at the Combine due to the schedule have drastically reduced the number of players with valid 3-cone test results. Therefore, the number of players who will meet this cutoff is very, very small due to a lack of testing, and teams will be left to project those numbers based on tape.

Here are the DBs that APC has identified as being the best fits for the Packers based on these benchmarks.

Cornerbacks

Just one player at the 2020 Combine hit all three benchmarks: height, 40 time, and 3-cone. That player is Michael Ojemudia from Iowa, who measured in at 6005 and 200 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.45, and put up a time of exactly 6.87 seconds.

A fifth-year senior in 2019, Ojemudia picked off three passes and totaled nine pass breakups while playing in 12 of the Hawkeyes’ 13 games and earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. He also had three picks as a junior, when he started seven games. Despite coming out as a fifth-year senior, Ojemudia is not overly old, as he is still 22 until September. A bonus is Ojemudia’s status as a member of Iowa’s leadership group.

Besides Ojemudia, there are a couple of players who are in the borderline group for the 3-cone and/or the height benchmark:

  • Kristian Fulton, LSU: 5115, 197; 4.46 40; 6.94 3-cone
  • Troy Pride, Notre Dame: 5114, 193; 4.40 40; 6.94 3-cone
  • John Reid, Penn State: 5103, 187; 4.49 40; 6.95 3-cone

Then there is a laundry list of players who may have hit the 3-cone cutoff but did not test in Indy, plus one who’s close on the 3-cone but didn’t run the 40 and a couple who did no testing at all. That group includes several of the top corners in the class, as well as a few later rounders:

  • Jeff Okudah, Ohio State: 6011, 205; 4.48 40; no 3-cone
  • C.J. Henderson, Florida: 6006, 204; 4.39 40; no 3-cone
  • Damon Arnette, Ohio State: 5115, 195; 4.56 40; no 3-cone
  • Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn: 5103, 198; 4.48 40; no 3-cone
  • Trevon Diggs, Alabama: 6013, 205; no testing (personal decision)
  • Bryce Hall, Virginia: 6012, 202; no testing (injury)
  • Nevelle Clark, Central Florida: 6007, 190; no 40; 6.88 3-cone
  • Stantley Thomas-Oliver, FIU: 6003, 192; 4.48 40; no 3-cone

In addition, there are two more non-Combine invitees to keep an eye on in the late rounds or as UDFAs, based on numbers that NFL.com’s Gil Brandt obtained from their early Pro Days (which took place before the coronavirus shut those down. As always, take Pro Day numbers with a grain of salt:

  • Zane Lewis, Air Force: 6006, 196; 4.43 40; 6.87 3-cone (link)
  • Gavin Heslop, Stony Brook: 6003, 197; 4.57 40; 6.88 3-cone

Safeties

As with the cornerback class, only one player at the safety position hit all of the Packers’ DB benchmarks at the Combine: Clemson’s K’Von Wallace. Interestingly, however, one of his teammates — Tanner Muse, a personal favorite prospect of this author’s — hit based on his Pro Day cone time.

Wallace is probably best as more of a box safety, according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. He was a three-year starter for Clemson, and he took a big step forward in pass coverage as a senior with two interceptions and ten pass breakups. He added two sacks, 72 total tackles, and three TFLs last year, while forcing two fumbles as a junior. Wallace’s key numbers in Indy went as follows: 5110, 206; 4.53 40; 6.76 3-cone.

Muse, the other Clemson safety, would be an ideal fit as a hybrid safety/linebacker. At the Combine, he told APC that most teams were actually looking at him as a linebacker instead, given his 6020, 227-pound frame. He did pick off four passes as a senior, though, and his testing movement skills showed that he has the athleticism to help out at safety as well. Muse ran a 4.41 40 in Indy, then posted an official 6.84-second 3-cone at Clemson’s Pro Day, which came early in the process. That could make him a very intriguing option on day 3 for a Mike Pettine defense that loves hybrid safety/linebackers in nickel and dime packages.

There is one other safety who is in the borderline category: Michigan’s Josh Metellus. He goes 5110, 209 with a 4.55 40 and a borderline 3-cone time of 6.94 seconds. The Packers have expressed interest in safeties with cone times as slow as the low 7s, and they did go outside of their tendencies for Josh Jones a few years ago.

Meanwhile, there are a few safeties who hit the Packers’ height and speed benchmarks and look like they would meet the cone time but did not test in Indy, plus one who didn’t test at the Combine:

  • Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois: 6030, 221; 4.45 40; no 3-cone
  • Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne: 6007, 217; 4.49 40; no 3-cone
  • Ashtyn Davis, Cal; 6007, 202; no 40, no 3-cone

The remainder of the Combine safety class was either too short (Antoine Winfield, Jr. at 5091) or too slow (Xavier McKinney at 4.63) to meet the Packers’ benchmarks.

Back to Pro Days, I found one other small-school player from Brandt’s Pro Day reports that hits all the numbers. Marc-Anthony Dequoy from the University of Montreal reportedly goes 6026, 198 with a 4.36 40 and a 6.65 3-cone. Even if those numbers are artificially inflated a bit, they both hit the cutoff by two tenths of a second. He could also be a UDFA candidate.