The track at Lucas Oil Stadium has produced record-shattering numbers in what might be the final Scouting Combine in Indianapolis for some time. Sunday, when the defensive backs hit the field, those records should continue to fall. Ahead of that, we spoke to a handful of this year's defensive back group, starting with a cornerback from Texas with a close relationship with Miami's own, Brandon Jones.
"His mindset and the way he approaches things. Me and Brandon have known each other since we were seven-years-old playing against each other," said Texas cornerback Josh Thompson. "I wouldn't even call him a friend, more like a brother. When I need something I go to him whether it's understanding defenses or if I'm going through a tough time I would call him. I can talk to him about anything."
"I celebrate all his big plays," Thompson continued. "Even if I can't watch the game, I'm searching his name to see what he's doing. I love seeing that because you rarely see guys from a small town like Nacogdoches, Texas make it out there. He set a standard and I'm just going follow it and set it, too."
Thompson had plenty of plays to celebrate as Jones led all safeties with his five sacks in 2021.
From Brandon Jones' home town back to my own stomping grounds in the Pacific Northwest, the University of Washington has a pair of corners projected by ESPN's Jordan Reid to go in the top 20 picks of April's draft.
Let's start with Trent McDuffie -- no relation to our own former star receiver turned Dolphins superfan O.J. McDuffie. Trent says that the Dolphins are his father's favorite team before he opined about playing in a man-centric scheme -- here he is detailing to keys to playing sticky man coverage.
"Technique and understanding what the receiver is going to get you and being super patient," said McDuffie. "Getting that off-hand jam we always talk about. Then, it's a confidence. You're man-to-man, the receiver may know the route, but so may you. At the end of the day it's your job to get the ball and that's how I play."
"Both top 20 picks. Wait until you see Gordon test," said ESPN's Jordan Reid.
Gordon showcased his athletic prowess as a youngster when he was a dancer and did Kung Fu. Lance Zierlein on the Around the NFL podcast this week said Gordon wasn't just a dancer, he was good enough to pursue a career on Broadway.
Gordan spoke about his inside-outside versatility, the pride he takes in locking down one side of the field or one receiver for an entire game, and spoke to the process of preparing for a game week.
"I look at tendencies. I break down their route tree," said Gordon. "I'm looking at their releases and watching their tools and putting tools in my bag to see what's going to counteract them. Whether it's a wide release, inside release, shock jam, anything like that."
From big programs like Washington and Texas to a smaller school inside the latter state, Sam Houston State's Zyon McCollum turned heads at the Senior Bowl last month.
"Guys like Jeremy Chinn who blew up at the Senior Bowl and Combine, I love to see guys like that have success," McCollum said. "It doesn't matter where you come from it just matters if you can play or not."
Back to the big programs and the every corner's favorite coverage -- what does Auburn's Roger McCreary think is the key to good press coverage?
"You have to have that dog mentality to press your guys every single play. You can't have no plays off," McCreary said. "It's that mindset that 'this is my guy.' You have to be patient and have eye discipline."
The defensive backs will conclude the Scouting Combine work outs Sunday, kicking off the on-field workout at 2 PM ET on NFL Network.