It’s day four at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, which is the last day of media availability. Defensive backs are scheduled to talk to the press throughout the day, along with some players from other positions that didn’t have a chance to go on their assigned days.
Earlier this morning Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III ran his 40-yard dash. His 4.41 and 4.38 unofficial times represent one of the fastest times by a quarterback since the numbers were recorded starting in 2000.
11:39 EST First up today was Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin. He was injured last month playing in the Senior Bowl, so he’s not able to participate in running drills here at the combine.
“Going down on a punt, I actually got hit in the back and suffered a small fracture in my leg,” he said of how he suffered the injury. “I’m already walking on it and expecting to have a full recovery in the next month. Still deciding on when to do my Pro Day but I’m looking at some time in April.”
Since he can’t run, Boykin is focusing on showcasing his intelligent and off-the-field assets when he has talked to teams this week in Indianapolis.
“The key for me is showing my intelligence and knowledge of the game,” Boykin said. “Not being able to do everything at this point, that’s really all I can focus on. Showing them what I’m capable of but mainly my film work will have to speak for itself.”
Click here for the rest of what Boykin had to say on Sunday.
11:47 EST South Carolina safety Antonio Allen talked about his goals for the week – both on and off the field.
“That I can run and that I’m a guy who is dedicated, a hard worker and have a good work ethic all around,” he said about what he hopes to prove to NFL teams this week.
He was very specific when asked his goals for the 40-yard dash, an event he has been training specifically for since the end of the college football season.
“4.5 at least,” he said. “(I have been running) 4.5s, but I know I have that 4.4 in me somewhere, I know I do.”
Click here to hear the audio from Allen’s session with the press.
11:55 EST Allen’s teammate Stephon Gilmore talked about the advantage that players like himself who switched positions from quarterback to defensive back gain from switching sides of the ball.
“Probably just because you understand the game more if you play quarterback,” he said. “You understand what other quarterbacks are trying to do to you so when you move to defense you have an edge. If you know what the quarterback is thinking, you have the edge to make plays.”
Gilmore hopes his performance this week can drive his stock into the first round, where he hopes to be selected.
“I know I can. I just have to go out here and perform and see what happens.”
Click here to hear the rest of what Gilmore had to say.
12:16 p.m. EST The first small-school player of the day, Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson, doesn’t believe playing in Division I FCS has hampered his development.
“I believe I’m a true shutdown corner,” he said.
But it wasn’t always that way.
After garnering interest from Arizona State, Cal and USC, Johnson didn’t get n official offer from the schools. Not wanting to go to junior college, he chose Montana.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” he said of the snub from those schools. “I took that and ran with it.”
He joined the Grizzlies as a wide receiver before the coaches asked him to play cornerback. In his first game, he matched up against Cal Poly receiver Ramses Barden — now with the New York Giants.
He admitted he got “burned” in the first half, but locked him down in the second.
It didn’t give him any doubts about his skills — “More just, ‘Welcome to college,’” Johnson laughed.
Now Johnson said teams are talking to him about playing cornerback or safety in the NFL, and he said he hopes to be a player similar to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, because he’s tall, fast and can hit.
Click here to hear the rest of Johnson’s podium seassion.
12:39 p.m. EST Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama cornerback, might be a familiar name.
He played his first three years at Florida, and was named a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News.
But three arrests — one for a bar fight and two for marijuana possession — got Jenkins dismissed from the team. So he spent his senior season playing for the North Alabama Lions.
“I take full responsibility and I learned from it,” Jenkins said. “It made me a stronger person. It taught me how to fight through reality. That I’ve got to separate myself from certain guys and certain people. In order to be successful at the next level, I can’t do the things that I used to do.”
Jenkins said he’s being open and honest with any teams that ask him about his previous transgressions, and he hopes that honesty will pay dividends.
In the meantime, he hopes his tape will speak for itself. He named Georgia’s A.J. Green — now with the Cincinnati Bengals — as the toughest receiver he ever faced, and he proudly recalled intercepting the first pass thrown Green’s way in the 2010 game.
While he didn’t face the same type of competition at North Alabama, he said he was still working even if he wasn’t overly challenged in games.
“Just focus on the little things — fundamentals,” he said. “Just finishing plays, no matter if the ball’s not coming to me. Just go all out.”
Now the cornerback hopes he can bring that attitude to the next level.
“It’s going to be a great challenge. But week-in, week-out I’m going to come in and put in some good work — watch film and just compete.”
Click here for the full audio from Jenkins.
12:59 p.m. EST Next up was Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Click here to hear what he had to say.
1:12 p.m. EST Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith was asked which NFL player he models his game after.
“Of all time, Steve Atwater is a guy who my previous coach told me I needed to play like and look up to,” he answered. “I remember watching him when I was young in the Super Bowl, making that hit against Green Bay. He’s a guy that I always admired.”
Click here to listen to the rest of what Smith had to say.
1:18 p.m. EST Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard talked about his injury rehab and cornerbacks that he compares himself too during day four of the NFL combine. You can hear the full audio from his session here.
1:46p.m. EST There’s been a wave of defensive backs to come through the media room in the past half hour. The first of which was Alabama cornerback De’Quan Menzie, who talked about being at the Combine with several of his Crimson Tide teammates.
You can listen to the full audio from his press conference here.
1:55p.m. EST Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield talked about the influence his father has been on his life, and about the way he’s prepared for both the NFL Combine and the transition into the NFL.
Click here for the audio from his session.
2:29p.m. EST Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson talked about the Spartans’ resurgence and his hopes for testing at the Combine this week. Hear the rest of what he had to say here.
2:54p.m. EST Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson told a story about a camp that he and his mom started back in his hometown of Clearwater, Fla.
“This camp was in the neighborhood where I grew up,” he said. “In the time period of one month, there were seven murders. We wanted to reach out to the kids and bring back all the kids I went to college with who are doing great things now to talk to the kids and let them know that even though there is a lot of violence going on right in front of you there are guys in the community who have made it out. We wanted to come back and connect with you and make you feel like you can do the same thing because we have done it. We had 300 kids that came out and it actually rained the whole day.
“The camp started at 5:00 and 4:30 came around and it was still raining. 5:00 came around and it stopped raining and the sun came out and everybody was ready to rock and roll. People sat in their cars waiting for the rain to pass. Hey, once God has something planned, it won’t stop.”
Click here for the rest of what Johnson had to say.
3:20 p.m. EST Cal defensive lineman Trevor Guyton talked about how some of his former teammates that are currently in the NFL have helped him prepare for that transition. One of those players that he’s talked to is Denver cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson.
“He’s coming off that injury but he’s going to be fine,” Guyton said. “He’s a beast of a player and I’m excited to see him get back out there.”
You can click here to listen to the rest of the audio.
That wraps up media availability at the Combine. Check DenverBroncos.com a little later for a top story on a pair of elite cornerbacks who anchored the two defenses in the BCS National Championship Game – Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick and LSU’s Morris Claiborne.
The team media crew is headed back to Denver tomorrow. Thanks for following along these past four days and look for more Combine and NFL Draft preview content leading up to April’s draft.
-Gray Caldwell and Stuart Zaas
Tags: NFL Scouting Combine