NFL Combine Live: Dee Milliner, Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid Stand Out Among Defensive Backs

Tyrann Mathieu4:40 p.m.: Now that the combine is over, it’s become a bit clearer who the Patriots could draft at cornerback in the first round. The team has only drafted one cornerback with a 4.5-plus 40 since Bill Belichick came on as head coach, and only one cornerback that ran a seven second-plus 3-cone.

Check out which players fit the mold here>>

3:29 p.m.: The agility drills are finally out. At cornerback, Will Davis, Logan Ryan, Dwayne Gratz, Brandon McGee and Marc Anthony finished in the Top 5 in the 3-cone. B.W. Webb, Desmond Trufant, Jamar Taylor, Davis and Ryan finished in the Top 5 in the short shuttle.

At safety, Josh Evans, Jawanza Starling, D.J. Swearinger, Zeke Motta and Keelan Johnson finished in the Top 5 in the 3-cone and Kenny Vaccaro, Earl Wolff, Keelan Johnson, J.J. Wilcox and Evans finished in the Top 5 in the short shuttle.

1:55 p.m.: The positional drills have just wrapped up for the defensive backs. Now begins the long wait for agility drills, but we will keep you updated as soon as those drop.

Today, Jamar Taylor, Dee Milliner, Tyrann Mathieu, Rod Sweeting, Eric Reid, Brandon McGee and Leon McFadden were the most impressive prospects. Earl Wolff, Shamarko Thomas and Shawn Williams did a nice job setting themselves apart from the rest of the safeties as well.

1:44 p.m.: I loved him coming in, but Jamar Taylor has really impressed in drills today. I’m having a hard time seeing why he’s not considered on the same level as Desmond Trufant, Xavier Rhodes and Johnthan Banks. He doesn’t have the same height as those guys, but he’s a better press-man corner.

1:29 p.m.: BREAKING: Rich Eisen ran a 6.03 40-yard dash.

1:26 p.m.: Rich Eisen is about to run his 40. Stay tuned.

1:22 p.m.: For some reason the internet thinks it’s too cool for the combine and 40-yard dash times.

Teams care about 40 times and teams care about the combine. Otherwise, there would be no combine, there would be no pro days and teams wouldn’t hold private workouts for prospects. Every teams has a scout at the combine with a stopwatch timing these players because they care how fast they run. It’s one part of the equation, but it’s still part of the equation.

1:10 p.m.: The explosion drill numbers are out there too.

Xavier Rhodes, B.W. Webb, Steve Williams, Robert Alford and Dwayne Gratz led the way for cornerbacks in the vertical jump. Eric Reid, Shamarko Thomas, T.J. McDonald, Earl Wolff and John Cyprien led the way for safeties.

In the broad jump, Webb, Alford, Rhodes, Williams, Tharold Simon and Blidi Wreh-Wilson led the way, while Wolff, Reid, Thomas, McDonald and Zeke Motta were the Top 5 safeties.

12:59 p.m.: The official 40 times are out. Darius Slay ran a 4.36, cornerbacks Dee Milliner ran a 4.37, Desmond Trufant ran a 4.39 and Jamar Taylor and Robert Alford ran 4.39′s.

At safety, Shamarko Thomas ran a 4.42, Earl Wolff ran a 4.44, Shawn Williams ran a 4.46, Eric Reid ran a 4.53 and Keelan Johnson and Matt Elam ran 4.54′s.

Tyrann Mathieu finished with a 4.50, Blidi Wreh-Wilson finished with a 4.53, Leon McFadden finished with a 4.54 and Jordan Poyer finished with a 4.54.

The Patriots love sub-4.5 guys. Brandon McGee, Sanders Commings, Kayvon Webster, Steve Williams, Rod Sweeting, Xavier Rhodes, David Amerson, Terry Hawthorne, Dwayne Gratz and Johnny Adams all finished in the 4.4s.

12:55 p.m.: The NFL just tweeted that Desmond Trufant’s official 40 time is a 4.38, Steve Williams ran a 4.42.

12:54 p.m.: This is not surprise, but Jamar Taylor just looked very impressive in his backpedal. I didn’t love him coming in, but Rod Sweeting has impressed me as well.

12:51 p.m.: Neither Desmond Trufant nor Xavier Rhodes have been overly impressive in their hip movement. Tharold Simon just looked good, though. He ran a high 4.4, but you can’t forget he was on the same list at LSU that said Sam Montgomery had effort issues in practice.

12:35 p.m.: The last 40-yard dash of the year has been run, and I managed not to shed a tear. The cornerbacks have impressed, and now it’s down to the final hour of the combine, and then the long wait for agility drills to be posted. The 3-cone is hugely important for defensive backs. The Patriots, for example, will rarely draft a cornerback with a seven-plus second 3-cone time.

Now it’s time to watch the second group of positional drills. Be on the look out for Xavier Rhodes, Jamar Taylor, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Desmond Trufant.

12:30 p.m.: Steve Williams ran a 4.25 on his first attempt and 4.34 on his second. NFL Network showed the simulcast of Williams and Marquise Goodwin and Goodwin’s 4.27 looked like it still stands as the fastest 40 this year.

12:24 p.m.: Coming into the last day of the combine, Shamarko Thomas was the best bet to break the combine record for the 40. His best time was a 4.38 when he face planted at the end.

Jamar Taylor continues to help himself. He ran a 4.32 on his second 40 attempt. Desmond Trufant ran a 4.38 on his second 40, he should be more than happy with a 4.31 on his first.

12:19 p.m.: I expect Jamar Taylor to shine in positional drills. He’ll look especially good in his backpedal.

The drills will be important for Xavier Rhodes. He didn’t show 4.41 speed on tape, so he’ll have to look smooth and fluid.

12:06 p.m.: Steve Williams out of Cal just ran a 4.25. It will be exciting to watch his second time and his official time. Duke Williams and Shawn Williams, both safeties, ran 4.4′s and J.J. Wilcox, a former running back, ran a 4.53.

The other UConn cornerback, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, ran a 4.47.

11:59 a.m.: Shamarko Thomas face planted at the end of his 40 and still ran a 4.38. He’s one to watch for his second time.

Desmond Trufant ran a 4.31, which definitely helps. He could also be the No. 2 cornerback taken this year. Top safety prospect Kenny Vaccaro ran a 4.59.

11:53 a.m.: We’ve got a couple more solid times. Rod Sweeting ran a 4.40, Darius Slay ran a 4.37 and Jamar Taylor ran a 4.37. Jamar Taylor is one of my favorite prospects at cornerback. He might be the best pure-cover corner in the draft. The Boise State product is very physical at the line of scrimmage and stays with wide receivers very well down the field. He’ll showcase his backpedal and hips later on in drills too.

Safety D.J. Swearinger disappointed a bit with a 4.62. Phillip Thomas ran the same time.

11:43 a.m.: Xavier Rhodes just helped himself out big time. He ran a 4.41 at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. The No. 2 cornerback in the draft is wide open right now, and Rhodes might have just taken it.

LSU safety Eric Reid ran a solid 4.53 and Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan ran a 4.50. Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer ran a 4.46.

11:19 a.m.: As the first group is wrapping up, there have been some obvious winners. Tyrann Mathieu and Dee Milliner helped themselves out big time, Leon McFadden and Brandon McGee looked strong and Dwayne Gratz, Matt Elam and David Amerson had strong 40 times.

The only player that may have truly hurt himself was Johnthan Banks. He’ll have an opportunity to rerun the 40 at this pro day, and he’ll work hard to get that time closer to the 4.4 range.

10:59 a.m.: I’ll usually give players who run better 40 times than they flashed on tape the benefit of the doubt. I think players take the two months before the combine and their pro days to become better athletes. David Amerson’s 4.38 40 time doesn’t seem legit, though. He may be able to run in a straight line fast without pads on, but that did not show up lined up outside at NC State.

In other football news, the Patriots’ free agency plan seemed to be mapped out today and it seems to include Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, Dwight Freeney and Ed Reed.

And speaking of cornerbacks, the Jets are avoiding Darrelle Revis’ agent because they don’t want to talk contract extension.

10:49 a.m.: The second group’s vertical jumps are out. Eric Reid, Xavier Rhodes, Shamarko Thomas, B.W. Webb and Steve Williams all jumped 40 1/2″.

Earl Wolff, Kenny Vaccaro, Nickel Robey, Desmond Trufant and Duke Williams rounded out the Top 10.

Thomas will be a guy to watch in the 40-yard dash. He’s supposed to be the fastest player in this draft. So far, that distinction goes to Marquise Goodwin.

10:27 a.m.: Leon McFadden and Dee Milliner are helping themselves out in these drills. Both are showing great fluidity in their turns and quick change of direction. Miami cornerback Brandon McGee is helping himself out as well. He flashed 4.4 speed and now he’s showing off a nice backpedal.

10:17 a.m.: Tyrann Mathieu is coming out and absolutely acing the combine. He ran a faster 40 than expected and he’s looking mighty fluid in his positional drills. It doesn’t hurt that he got the seal of approval from Deion Sanders either, who called him a “straight-up dog” and “overachiever.”

Mathieu would have been a sure-fire first-round pick if he hadn’t got kicked off the LSU football team. Now, he could still go as high as the second round. He offers so much to an NFL team. He can be a shut-down slot corner, he can play safety, he can play outside and he’s a dynamic punt returner. The guy is a playmaker.

Most of the time character issues are overblown in the NFL anyway.

10:11 a.m.: One of the big concerns about Dee Milliner is that he was rarely asked to drop into a backpedal at Alabama. Well, he may have just quashed those concerns by keeping low and showing fluid hips.

David Amerson may have run a 4.38 40, but he’s got some of the tightest hips in this class. He could be switched to safety at the next level. He was a ball hawk, but he has a tendency to get beat deep.

Dwayne Gratz out of UConn just showed off some tight hips, as well.

10:01 a.m.: Fans and draft analysts will try to convince you up and down that speed and agility drills at the combine are overrated, but teams pay attention and lots of them draft by trends. Defensive backs and wide receivers are defined by their speed. This may be without pads and in an unfamiliar setting, but NFL teams need speed.

9:55 a.m.: Tyrann Mathieu will be the most interesting player to watch in April. There’s really no telling where a team will take a risk on him, but he can be an immediate contributor whether it’s at safety or in the slot. He’s a proven playmaker and showed flashy skills on special teams.

The key will be for him to keep his nose clean. He says he hasn’t used drugs since he got arrested in October, but he has a history of issues and will have to be drafted into a great locker room.

9:50 a.m.: Tyrann Mathieu ran a 4.50 in his second 40 attempt. His 4.43 might not hold up when the official times come out, but it should remain in the 4.4′s.

9:47 a.m.: For some reason NFL.com still hasn’t released the defensive line 3-cone and short-shuttle times, but my buddy Mike Loyko from NEPatriotsDraft.com caught them on the NFL Network scroll and put them on his Google Docs spreadsheet.

Barkevious Mingo of LSU ran the best 3-cone at at 6.84. Devin Taylor surprised with his agility by running the second-best 3-cone, followed by Michael Buchanan, Ty Powell, Nathan Williams and Dion Jordan.

Ezekiel Ansah destroyed the shuttle with a 4.26, whiel Taylor, Datone Jones, David Bass and Dion Jordan rounded out the Top 5 in that drill.

9:40 a.m.: The best players among this first group of defensive backs are Johnthan Banks, Leon McFadden, Dee Milliner, Tyrann Mathieu and Matt Elam. All of those players except Banks helped themselves in the 40.

Going back through historical 40′s, you won’t find many top-tier cornerbacks that ran a 4.59. Elam’s time will certainly help him, but he still showed a lot of coverage issues while at Florida. He projects as a speedy, hard-hitting strong safety, but he’ll have a lot of trouble if he’s asked to play heavily over the top.

9:32 a.m.: Miami cornerback Brandon McGee helped himself out with a 4.41 40-yard dash. Dee Milliner really did himself a favor running a 4.31 40-yard dash. That ensures a top-10 pick in the draft.

9:25 a.m.: Tyrann Mathieu just killed it with a 4.43. That will definitely help him out. Most thought the “Honey Badger” would run a 40 in the 4.5′s.

9:19 a.m.: Matt Elam wasn’t joking when he said he would run a 4.4, because he did. The hard-hitting Florida safety ran a 4.46.

UConn has two very athletic cornerbacks in this combine in Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Gratz ran a 4.41. It will be tough for Wreh-Wilson to top that.

9:12 a.m.: David Amerson shocked the world with a 4.38 unofficial 40-yard dash. He had 13 interceptions as a sophomore at NC State.

Johnthan Banks disappointed with a 4.59 40. If 40 times are important for any position, it’s cornerback.

9:06 a.m.: We started off with a 4.45 by Adams. Expect to see a lot of times in the 4.4s for the defensive backs. These guys have to be faster than wide receivers to stick with them.

Robert Alford ran a 4.41.

8:59 a.m.: The defensive backs are starting to run. Johnny Adams of Michigan State is up first, followed by R0bert Alford, who should have  strong 40 time.

8 a.m.: Tuesday marks the sixth and final day of the NFL combine. It may also be the most exciting day for viewers.

That’s because Day 6 is dedicated to the defensive backs. Typically, we see the fastest 40 times among cornerbacks and safeties, and the positional drills are the most useful to watch. You get a really good sense of a player’s agility and flexibility when he’s dropping in a backpedal, turning his hips and running.

Among the top players to watch in the 2013 class are cornerbacks Dee Milliner, Johnthan Banks, Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes and safeties Kenny Vaccaro, John Cyprien, Matt Elam and D.J. Swearinger. The players with the most to prove, however, are Tyrann Mathieu and Rhodes.

Both cornerbacks have major question marks about their athleticism. Rhodes even talked about a possible conversion to safety in his combine interviews. If Rhodes tests out well, teams may have more confidence in drafting him in the first round. He comes with elite size for the position.

NFL teams haven’t seen Mathieu perform since the 2012 BCS National Championship game. The artist formerly known as “Honey Badger” was kicked off LSU’s football squad for multiple infractions. Now he says he hasn’t taken an illegal substance since Oct. 26 and is ready to work out.

Stay with us for all the updates throughout the day. We’ll keep you abreast of all the 40 times, how players are performing in drills and any other news that comes out of the final day of the NFL combine.