2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Late Round Players to Watch

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Jan 22, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad defensive corner Ladarius Gunter of Miami (27) breaks up a pass against wide receiver Donatella Luckett of Harding (16) during Senior Bowl South squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami (Fl.)

Ladarius Gunter is yet another big cornerback who has shown some skill but may be available in the third day of the draft. In a relatively quiet 2014 campaign for the Hurricanes, the 6’2″, 200-pound Gunter put together some solid production, including three picks and a special teams TD.

Gunter, who is bigger and looks stronger and more physical than Byron Jones, appears to have adequate speed for the position based on his measurables at the Senior Bowl, and looks to be a fit as a potential press corner at the next level with some coaching and experience. He is an aggressive cover corner and will sit on routes and make aggressive plays on the ball, especially in the red zone. He is also a capable tackler, and has lined up as a single-high safety or in man coverage over tight ends at various points for Al Golden’s defense.

Unfortunately he is also wildly inconsistent on tape, often losing track of assignments while looking at the quarterback or attempting to jump routes and make plays. He also shows a lack of good game speed on tape, which is a major concern for a potential cover corner. Here are some things he can do to upgrade his draft stock:

1. 40-yard Dash: While running really fast in spandex underwear in a straight line out of a sprinter’s stance doesn’t prove you can run fast out of your backpedal in pads on gameday, it still helps, especially for cornerbacks. Gunter has an unofficial recorded 40-yard dash time of 4.56, which is on the slow side of adequate. But if he can keep his 40 around that time or better, he can show that he has enough straight-line speed to compete at the next level.

2. Speed Turn Drill: One area where Gunter has struggled is in his ability to get his head around and locate the deep ball. In the speed turn drill, he has to show his ability to get his head around on a deep ball after executing quick backpedal, break, and turn and sprint. He will also show some of his “game” speed in this drill, in his ability to sprint up to a full head of steam out of a backpedal and then out of a turn, which is more closely connected to the type of speed he’d need in an NFL game.

3. Backpedal Turn and Catch Drill: Again, this will measure Gunter’s ability to get his head around while running downfield and locate then catch a deep pass. This drill is simply more paired down to show his ability to backpedal at full speed, then show the smooth hips to turn effortlessly into a full downhill sprint before the head turn. This is a crucial drill for a player hoping to be an NFL man on man cover corner.