2010 NFL Combine - Defensive Winners
USC S Taylor Mays
USC S Taylor Mays
Posted Mar 3, 2010

The defensive players who helped themselves at the 2010 NFL Combine

2010 NFL Combine

The Defensive Winners

- 2010 NFL Combine - Offensive Winners 
- 2010 NFL Combine - Offensive Losers  
- 2010 NFL Combine - Defensive Losers 

2010 NFL Combine Quick Looks
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Cs | OTs | OGs 
- DEs | DTs | ILBs | OLBs | Ss | CBs

2010 NFL Combine Results
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Cs | OTs | OGs 
- DEs | DTs | ILBs | OLBs | Ss | CBs 

Taylor Mays, S USC
There was no question that Mays was going to come up with a great workout with everyone from USC to various insiders to Mays himself hinting that something special was coming, but he cranked out something special.

Mays didn't come up with the sub-4.4 40 that he was predicting, and he didn't hit the Chris Johnson-like 4.2 that the NFL Network unofficially timed, but fast is fast and his 4.43 was the best among all the defensive backs. Throw in his 6-3, 230-pound size, 24 reps on the bench, and an NBA-like 41" vertical, and his workout overshadowed all his other issues.

For a player of his skills, he had a good, not special career at USC, gambled too much when the ball was in the air, didn't show any instincts, and didn't come up with enough of the routine plays. But when a player can run and leap and lift like he can, and look silky-smooth doing it, coaches tend to perk up at the possibilities. After this week, Mays is a sure-thing top 20 pick after previously being considered a possible slider to late in the first round. While Mays had a great day, he's still not going to pass …

Eric Berry, S Tennessee
Don't go assuming Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are the two best players in the draft by far. Berry, the Thorpe Award winner from Tennessee, couldn't have come up with a better workout and now is firmly entrenched as a must-have playmaker who deserves to go in the top five overall.

Berry came up with a special college career as a peerless playmaker and a top tackler and leader, and the raw skills matched the reputation. The hype is now off the charts after tearing off a 4.4, leaping out of the stadium with a 10'10" broad jump, and with all doubts and questions about his size answered with an official measurement of just under six-feet and 211 pounds. Basically, he looked the part of an elite, special safety who'll be a star for years to come.

The Stud Tackles
Just by showing up and competing in the workouts, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy solidified their places somewhere among the top three overall picks.

Suh was all business, extremely focused, and was every bit as amazing as scouts could've hoped for. For a player of his 6-4, 307-pound size, running a sub-5 40, benching 225 pounds an impressive 32 times, and leaping a tremendous 35.5" confirmed that he deserves to be considered No. 1 overall.

McCoy wasn't quite as impressive as Suh, checking in at a smaller 295 pounds, struggling with a pedestrian (for a defensive tackle) 23 reps on the bench, and not coming up with a Suh-like explosion on the vertical leaping 30.5". Even so, he was extremely quick, fluid, and proved that he's a worth challenger for the top spot overall.

Further down the list, and flying well under the radar compared to the two big boys up top, is Tennessee's Dan Williams. He's not Suh or McCoy, but there are going to be several teams drooling over the idea of getting a great value pick midway through the first round. It's not crazy to think Williams can step up and be every bit the player Suh and McCoy will be, but at a much better price after a great workout matched his on-field production. At a massive 327 pounds, Williams moved well, lifted an okay 27 reps, and ripped through the drills with tremendous strength and surprising speed.

The two top defensive playmakers on last year's great Horned Frog team, DE Jerry Hughes and LB Daryl Washington, were stars of the Combine, too, with tremendous workouts that made them a whole bunch of money. The big concern for Hughes was whether or not he could make the move from end to outside linebacker. At 6-2 and 255 pounds, he simply doesn't have the size to be a regular 4-3 lineman. Question answered as he looked like a natural flying around the cone and shuttle drills like a defensive back, running 4.69 40, and coming up with a solid 26 reps. With this workout he has become the type of prospect who can fit in almost any system, can fill a variety of needs, and can be an explosive game-changer no matter where he plays.

Washington had even more to prove. Looking a little smallish at a cut 6-2, 230 pounds, he needed to flash the athleticism and speed to match up with his ultra-productive body of work at the collegiate level, and he came through. The 17 reps were a little light, but he measured well with long arms at 34.5", among the longest of all the linebacker prospects, and his fluid 4.66 40 helped him immensely. His hips were loose, he cut on a dime, and he looked as smooth as anyone on the field.

A.J. Jefferson, CB Fresno State
For those who say the Combine can't boost a player's stock all that much when the body of work isn't all that great, Jefferson could be an interesting player to keep an eye on. He was fine at Fresno State, but he was hardly a special defensive back and made more noise over his career as returner.

Jefferson only got a full-time gig in the defensive secondary for a year, wasn't consistent, didn't have to lock up on too many top receiver prospects, and needs a ton of work. And then came the Combine, a 4.43 40, excellent movement, and looked like the type of prospect who could be a steal in the middle rounds and be used, eventually, as a premier nickel and dime back. In other words, the upside just got greater after an excellent workout.