The biggest complaint most scouts have about the combine is fans often get too worked up about the results. The media frenzy created around the athletic drills in Indianapolis gives the average fan the perception scouts will dramatically change their grades on prospects based on how they fast they run, high the jump or how much weight they lift when in shorts, overtaking whatever previous perceptions were made based on, you know, actual football.
If there is one test that is critical to a certain position, however, it is the 40-yard dash with cornerbacks, which is why the respective draft stocks for a trio of playmakers will be heading in completely oppposite directions based on Tuesday's timings.
Alabama's Dee Milliner, 6-foot, 201 pounds, silenced any doubters of his straight-line speed with a pair of attempts that were unofficially clocked in the 4.3s, including a first try that came in at a blistering 4.31 seconds -- the fastest of the first group of defensive backs.
Speed was the only question scouts had about the Alabama star, as he's shown the instincts, ball skills and agility to handle coverage responsibilities. He also ranks among the most physical and tough defensive backs in the draft class.
While Milliner's time was comforting, by clocking in at an unofficial 4.38 seconds Tuesday, North Carolina State's David Amerson will receive the bigger boost to his draft stock.
The 6-1, 205-pound Amerson left the Wolfpack tied atop the national leaderboard with 18 career interceptions but for all of the big plays he made as a pass thief, he was also victimized several times, leading to questions about his make-up speed. Amerson was certainly beaten on other occasions in 2012, but many talent evaluators frequently point to the undressing he was given in a season-opening loss against Tennessee as a reason why the lanky and athletic Amerson might have to make the switch to safety to have success in the NFL.
Considering how talented we now realize Cordarrelle Patterson is, the fact that the JUCO transfer burned Amerson repeatedly can be taken with a little more perspective -- especially now that the Wolfpack corner has proven his speed, as well.
Unfortunately, another high profile ball-hawk wasn't as successful in proving his speed, Tuesday.
Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks ranked just two behind Amerson with 16 career interceptions but finished significantly behind him in the 40-yard dash drills, coming in at 4.59 seconds.
While taller than many of his competitors at 6-2, Banks is also significantly lighter (185), which makes his less than ideal speed all the more troublesome. He has the length and physicality to handle the press duties that are gaining in popularity throughout the league but Tuesday's results raise questions about his ability to play off-man coverage. That fact could push him outside of the first two rounds.