INDIANAPOLIS — The 2023 NFL Combine had plenty of guys that stood out in big ways, however, it seems like the defensive back class, specifically the cornerbacks, were fed something this year that took their testing to the next level. So, who among them stood out in a special way?
Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez
The Oregon cornerback has a great argument to be the best cornerback in the entire class, and his testing numbers only threw that narrative up more. He ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash and combined it with a 41.5-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-1-inch broad jump.
For a guy who was built off being an elite athlete, Gonzalez checks all the boxes in that arena. Gonzalez’s numbers just confirm what was seen on tape, which was a twitched-up athlete with great ball skills. This is a blue-chip athlete and people should expect to see Gonzalez come off the board in the Top-10.
Maryland CB Deonte Banks
For a player who was on the fringe of the first round prior to Friday, Deonte Banks did all he needed to do at the NFL Combine to cement first round status. Along with Gonzalez, Joey Porter Jr., and Devon Witherspoon, there is a great argument to be made that with his tape and numbers, Banks could easily slide in as the fourth cornerback off the board.
A 4.35 40-yard dash was just the tip of the iceberg for the Maryland Terrapins product. Banks rounded that up with a 42-inch vertical and a 11-foot-4-inch broad jump that put everyone on notice. One of the questions coming into the week was just about how explosive Banks was with his recovery speed, but these numbers paint a great number that there is that recovery speed in his game.
Pitt S Brandon Hill
There were not many safeties to actively help their stock, in fact, many hurt their stock after running poor times, but Pitt’s Brandon Hill was not one of them. He led the field with a 4.43 40-yard dash. For a guy who came into the week with little buzz, Hill created some for himself with that time alone. Then, he was smooth and coordinated in the on-field drills, something that teams should take notice of throughout the day.
I’m not sure exactly just where Hill will end up on the draft board, but the buzz around him here is very real. Expect him to be picked in the mid-rounds as his stock continues to climb.
Kansas State CB Julius Brents
Don’t let anyone tell you there was a bigger winner from Friday than Julius Brents. In his hometown of Indianapolis, Brents put on a show on all fronts. His speed was something that many questioned, and while Brents did not post some blazing time, a 4.53 40-yard dash is more than adequate for what Brents needed to run with all things considered.
However, the rest of his testing was freaky. Brents dashed his way to a 41.5-inch vertical, 11-foot-6-inch broad jump, 6.63 3-cone drill, and 4.05 short shuttle. All of those numbers are elite for any cornerback, let alone one who is 6-foot-3 and measured in with the longest wingspan in NFL Combine history. Brents is a unique player who is having a great process and jumping up boards quickly.
Michigan CB D.J. Turner
If you were looking for elite, Michigan cornerback D.J. Turner brought the sauce and so much more. Officially dotting in at a 4.27 40-yard dash, Turner is likely to have the fastest time of the entire NFL Combine with that time. In fact, it is the fourth-fastest time at the event since 2003. Add in a 38.5-inch vertical and Turner did well above the line for himself all day. He has to be a winner of this list, and is certainly one of those ‘freaks’ that everyone talks about when looking at guys who can set the barometer at the NFL Combine.