"Sometimes it's confirmation of what you already know," Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of the combine. "Sometimes a guy can benefit himself. Sometimes a guy can hurt himself in that process. The combine will be for interviews and getting to know some of these guys. It’s an important part of the process for us."
With significant turnover expected for the Lions roster this offseason, Mayhew and Co. could be relying on young players from this year's draft to come in and contribute right away. That makes next weeks evaluations even more important.
The most pressing needs for the Lions right now are: defensive end, safety, a running back with speed, cornerback, interior offensive linemen and an outside receiver.
The combine will feature 333 of the college's best talent at all of those positions.
We took a look at some of the defensive ends prospects to keep an eye on in Indianapolis next week on Friday. Today, we take a look at the cornerback prospects.
This year’s class of corners doesn’t have the elite talent at the top like recent drafts, but the Lions should like that fact that eight of the top 10 corners are 6-foot or above.
The Lions took three cornerbacks in last year’s draft, but could potentially lose their top one -
Here's a few to keep an eye on:
Dee Milliner, 6-1, 199, Alabama
The skinny: Milliner is the most complete cornerback in the draft in that he can turn and run with most receivers in the NFL and stand up to the more physical pass catchers at the line of scrimmage, too.
Desmond Trufant, 6-0, 185, Washington
Strength: Recovery speed
The skinny: Trufant was one of the big winners at the Senior Bowl. In three days of practice, I didn’t see him get beat badly once and was dominant at times in one-on-one drills with receivers. He has very good recovery speed and good ball skills.
Johnthan Banks, 6-2, 185, Mississippi State
The skinny: He was initially a safety in Starkville and earned All-Freshman SEC honors at the position before switching over to corner as a sophomore. That kind of versatility has to excite some teams. As a former safety, he’s not shy about coming up and laying a helmet of a runner, either.
Xavier Rhodes, 6-1, 215, Florida State
Strength: Big frame
Weakness: Zone coverage
The skinny: He’s got terrific hands and his big frame is tailor-made for press coverage at the next level. He fits the mold of big corners like Seattle’s Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman.
Leon McFadden, 5-10, 185, San Diego St.
The skinny: Like Trufant, McFadden did well for himself at the Senior Bowl. Lions coaches were impressed by his toughness and he plays bigger than 5-10. He looks comfortable in both man and zone coverage. Right now he’s probably more of a slot corner at the NFL level, at least initially.
Jordan Poyer, 6-0, 190, Oregon State
The skinny: He got in and out of his breaks very well at the Senior Bowl and didn’t have a whole lot of wasted movements. He finds the football well and had seven interceptions this past season. He also has return skills, which adds to his value.
David Amerson, 6-3, 194, N.C. State
Strengths: Ball skills
The skinny: He might be better suited to play safety at the next level, and will probably turn out to be a terrific cover safety in the NFL. In 2011, Amerson recorded 13 interceptions, which tied for second-most in NCAA history.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 6-2, 190, Connecticut
The skinny: Wreh-Wilson is another big-bodied cornerback whose big frame and long arms allow him to get his hands on a lot of footballs. He struggled at times in the Senior Bowl covering more agile receivers.