2023 NFL They take place in full, and on Friday, the field exercises for their appearances were televised. As is typical, one group started with a 40-yard run, then moved on to positional drills, while another group completed agility drills and measured jumps.
Let’s take a closer look at the safes that have popped up.
There were a lot of pure safeties helping themselves in this group, but instead of highlighting all the pure safeties, I kept the focus on the players I felt would best fit the Lions’ needs, most notably those who could fill Detroit’s need in the slot.
Gartavious “Quan” Martin, Illinois, 5-foot-11, 194
4.45 / 1.47 (40/10 yard dash), 44 inches (vertical jump), 11 feet (wide jump)
In our Safeties preview, I made sure to note that Martin was one of my “buddies” because I felt he wasn’t given enough attention and I expected him to do well at the Combine. It definitely exceeded my expectations and is definitely on a lot of radars now.
With a sturdy frame and tree trunks for the thighs, Martin pushed this frame in all directions. His sub-4.5 40-yard dash was impressive, but his split of 1.47 seconds for 10 yards was the fastest of all the defensive players in this draft class. His jumps were even more impressive as his vertical jump was also the highest of all defensive players – the fifth-highest ever in Combine history – and his wide jump marked the fourth-highest.
In field drills, Martin was an easy mover, showing smooth transitions, and an impressive ability to set his upper body independently of his undulating lower base. This skill allows him to run at full speed while changing his upper body to the traffic around him, be it a player or a ball. Martin showed great ball position, rising when necessary, and had a soft, reliable hand.
Generally speaking, his strong legs moved like pistons, but he remained completely in control of his body at all times. The “W-drill”—my pick for best predictor of hole success—was a walk in the park.
In my opinion, the top three hybrid safety slots in this category are Brian Branch, Martin, and…
Jimmy Robinson, Florida5 feet – 10 1/2, 191
4.59 (40), 33.5 in (vertical), 9 ft-8 (wide)
Robinson has a compact frame and is as quick as any defensive back in this class. His Test numbers were average, and at times during rehearsals he seemed to focus too much on being technically sound rather than staying out, which led to some toughness that is likely to be in those results.
When loose, Robinson showed incredibly fast feet, snapping it up and down like a typewriter making its way across a page. His focus on technique helped him achieve proficiency in drills, but when he relaxed, his natural skills took over. One of the best examples of this was in eight-drill form near the end of field exercises, when he would move with silky acceleration, ramp up, slow down, and pick up speed again at an impressive pace.
Sidney Brown, Illinois (5-foot-10, 211, 4.48) Like Muscular back – which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering this is his twin brother – and his strength was evident in his movement during workouts. He was fast and quick as well, but the power he brought into his movements was remarkable.
Christopher Smith, GA (5-foot-10 1/2, 192, 4.62) Is another safety hole hybrid to watch out for in the draft. His shifts during drills seemed easy, and as the drill went on, he seemed smoother and his hands improved.
Geyer Brown, Penn State (5 ft. – 11 1/2, 203, 4.65) known b Being a Hawkeye, his skills were on display in Indianapolis. His ability to track the ball in the air – even when caught late – is on a different level than other safeties in this class. He drifted a little when falling, but his feet are fast and his hands are great.
antonio johnson, Texas A&M (6-foot-2, 198, 4.52) It’s big and tall, and its frame made a lot of workouts look easy. He was a smooth glider across the field and swallowed the ball when it came into his range. He’s experienced some faster agility drills, but that’s not really his game, and he was expected to be something of a challenge.
chamari conner, Virginia Tech (6 ft – 0, 202, 4.51) He improved his stock as much as anyone on my draft board coming into this combine. Although I thought he had some defensive backrange in the slot, I was very impressed with what I saw and he gave a “step back and watch the tape” performance. Fluid in his movements, easy backhand, silky tracking ability, ball position, and soft hands were all the notes I took on Conner during drills.
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