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Combine 40 times of particular importance to this year’s CB class

Patrick Peterson

LSU defensive back Patrick Peterson poses with Jim Thorpe Award Trophy after winning the award given to the best defensive back at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


When the defensive backs run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s an impressive display of straight-line speed. But how meaningful is it to determining whether these guys can play football?

According to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, it’s actually quite meaningful -- at least with this year’s class, where several of the top defensive backs have questions to answer about their speed.

“We’ve got a big, physical corner class, but we’re not sure how fast they are right now,” Mayock says in a video at

Mayock says the top two cornerbacks on the board can both solidify their status with good showings in the 40.

“My top-ranked corner, Patrick Peterson from LSU, this kid’s going to weigh in at 215-220 and probably run sub-4.4,” Mayock says. “After him, Prince Amukamara from Nebraska, another kid who I think is a top 10 pick. The questions about him are top-end speed.”

Peterson and Amukamara are 1-2 at cornerback on just about every draft board we’ve seen. After them, Mayock says, come another couple of cornerbacks who have a lot to show with the 40-yard dash.

“Two big, physical corners, Aaron Williams from Texas and Jimmy Smith from Colorado,” Mayock says. “How fast they run will be huge in where they end up, with their draft status.”

And finally, Mayock says, the 40-yard dash will be an opportunity for one highly rated cornerback to make up for a bad performance in his final college game.

“Brandon Harris from Miami: Can he erase the stigma of a very bad bowl game against Notre Dame and Michael Floyd by running a great 40 time?” Mayock said. “He needs to run 4.4 or better.”