NFL combine makes it tough to see Lions drafting cornerback at No. 8
Indianapolis — Is cornerback off the table for the Detroit Lions with the No. 8 pick in the draft?
General manager Bob Quinn never would publicly withdraw a top prospect from consideration, but reading between the lines, it seems unlikely the Lions will consider one of the top corner prospects with their top-10 choice.
LSU's Greedy Williams, who came into the event perceived to be top option at the position, did little to weaken that argument with his on-field testing.
Standing 6-foot-2, the long-limbed Williams showcased world-class speed in the 40, clocking in at at brisk 4.38 seconds. Combined with his playmaking skills on the outside — eight interceptions the past two seasons — he checks almost every box for NFL decision-makers.
Except one for the Lions, which might be a disqualifier, especially so early in the draft. Williams is a subpar tackler, especially in run support, something he acknowledged during his combine media session.
“I put a high priority on tackling just in general for our team, and I don’t think we can change that depending on whatever position it is," Lions coach Matt Patricia said last week. "But you’ve got to find the right balance because obviously the biggest thing they’ve got to do is be able to cover in those situations.
"But understand that some of the players on the other side of the ball are pretty good too," Patricia said. "They’re going to catch the ball, and what you want to make sure that happen is that they’re tackled right away and they don’t turn those plays, whatever they are, into bigger plays. It’s kind of a good balance that they need."
Two other cornerbacks who were on the fringes of the conversation to be top-10 selections likely closed the door on that possibility with disappointing showings in the 40.
Washington's Byron Murphy and Georgia's Dendre Baker, two outstanding college players with plenty of tape to validate their standing as first-round talent, ran 4.55 and 4.52 respectively, preventing their stock from rising further.
Assuming the Lions don't trade down, Day 2 is looking like a more likely spot for the Lions to find a cornerback to complement Darius Slay. Players who were likely already in the mix and didn't hurt themselves at the combine include Penn State's Amani Oruwariye, Temple's Rock Ya-Sin, Houston's Isaiah Johnson and Washburn's Corey Ballentine.
One player teams undoubtedly will be looking more closely after Monday's testing will be Auburn's Jamel Dean. With great size at 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, his 4.30-second 40 was the fastest time among corners, and faster than Slay's 4.36 in 2013.
Recruited to Ohio State, Dean was medically disqualified at the school because of multiple knee injuries in high school. He then missed the 2016 season at Auburn with another knee injury, before appearing in 26 games the past two years, recording 17 pass breakups and two interceptions.