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Cornerbacks Shine in Combine Finale

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McKelvin, others cement first-round status (AP Photo)

The NFL Scouting Combine closed up shop yesterday, and for the final time ever at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, potential NFL defensive backs ran drills and sprints on its turf. For reports on the previous three days of the 2008 Combine, click through to the following links: TE/OL :: WR/QB/RB :: DL/LB

Many argue that the Buffalo Bills are in need of a cornerback in this year's draft, while others maintain that a veteran addition will bolster the team's depth, while still others believe that with the emergence of Jabari Greer, the position has settled itself. What is clear is that if the Bills decide that a cornerback might be a first-round target, there are four prospects who are proving their first-round worth.

Cornerbacks
It was a great day for arguably the top two corners on the board, Leodis McKelvin and Mike Jenkins. The Troy alum (McKelvin) ran a 4.38 40, and that time was matched by South Florida's Jenkins. Kansas' Aqib Talib was also stellar, running a 4.47 and displaying a 38-inch vertical jump. Of all of the corners available in this year's draft, Talib and Jenkins may be the best fit as redirectors and tacklers in a Cover 2 scheme.

No corner had as impressive a day as Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, however. Rodgers-Cromartie showed rare athleticism, running a 4.33 in the 40, jumping 38.5 inches and showing incredible ball skills in positional drills. As David Halprin notes, Rodgers-Cromartie has "star corner" written all over him. Don't be surprised if he's a serious consideration for Buffalo at pick 11, as he's the type of turnover-happy corner that can excel in any defensive scheme.

Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers, meanwhile, could only run a 4.58 and was not as fluid or athletic as his peers. He seems to be a second-round pick at this point. One other name to keep on as a third round pick (if he doesn't go higher) is UConn's Tyvon Branch, whose 4.31 40 wowed scouts and prove he has the type of explosiveness not just to be a solid corner, but a top-notch kick returner as well.

Safeties
The Bills are about as likely to choose a safety high this year as they were in 2006, when they chose Donte Whitner... oops. Miami's Kenny Phillips, the big-name safety available this year, didn't disappoint with his workout, running a 4.54-second 40 at 212 pounds and showing the type of short-area explosion that will make him a big hitter at the next level. Admittedly, having an explosive athlete like that lining up next to Whitner is enticing, but unrealistic considering the depth the Bills displayed at their free safety position last year. Oklahoma's Reggie Smith, who can play either corner or safety, did not run.

That's all she wrote for the Scouting Combine, folks. Plenty of names showed tons of promise; once we get past this whole free agent thing, we'll dive back into draft-related discussions. Enjoy this last rookie post while you can.