2023 NFL Combine results: 7 standouts from the safes

2023 NFL Combine is in full swing, and on Friday the defensive backs had their practices televised. Traditionally, one group began by running the 40-yard dash, then switched to positional drills, while another group performed agility drills and measured jumps.

Let’s take a closer look at the securities that stood out.


There were a lot of pure safeties who helped themselves in this group, but instead of highlighting all the pure safeties, I kept my focus on the players I felt would best fit the needs of the Lions, especially those who could fill a need for Detroit in the slot.

Jartavius ​​”Quan” Martin, Illinois, 5-foot-11, 194

4.45/1.47 (40/10-yard dash), 44-inches (vertical jump), 11-foot-1 (broad jump)

In our safety preview, I made sure to note that Martin was one of “my guys” because I felt he wasn’t getting enough attention and I expected him to perform very well on the combine. Sure enough, he exceeded my expectations and he’s definitely on a lot of radars now.

With a stout frame and tree trunks for thighs, Martin drove that frame in all directions. His sub-4.5 40-yard dash was impressive, but his 1.47-second 10-yard split was the fastest of any defensive player in this draft class. His jumps were even more impressive with his vertical jump also the highest among all defensive players – the fifth-highest ever recorded in Combine history – and his broad jump checking in as the fourth-highest.

In on-court drills, Martin was an easy mover, showing smooth transitions, and a remarkable ability to adjust his upper body regardless of the jarring lower base. This skill allows him to run at full speed while changing his upper body to the traffic around him, be it a player or the ball. Martin showed great ball placement, high-pointed when needed, and had soft, reliable hands.

Overall, his powerful legs moved like pistons, but he was in full control of his body at all times. The “W drill”—my pick for the best predictor of track success—was a walk in the park.

In my opinion, the top three track safety hybrids in this class are Brian Branch, Martin and…

Jamie Robinson, Florida State5-foot-10 1/2, 191

4.59 (40), 33.5 inches (vertical), 9-foot-8 (wide)

Robinson has a compact frame and is as quick as any defensive back in this class. His test numbers were average, and at times during drills he almost looked like he was focusing too much on being technically sound instead of staying loose, which led to some stiffness that probably played into those results.

When Robinson was loose, he showed incredibly quick feet, quickly picking them up and down like a typewriter working its way across the page. His focus on technique helped him with efficiency in drills, but when he relaxed, his natural skills took over. One of the best examples of this was in the figure eight drills near the end of the training sessions on the track, when he moved with silky acceleration, ramping up, decelerating and ramping up again at an impressive pace.

Quick thoughts

Sydney Brown, Illinois (5-foot-10, 211, 4.48) looks like a muscular runner — which shouldn’t be a surprise considering that’s what his twin brother is — and his power was evident in his movements during drills. He was both fast and quick as well, but the power he generated in his movements is remarkable.

Christopher Smith, Georgia (5-foot-10 1/2, 192, 4.62) is another lane safety hybrid to keep an eye on in the draft. His transitions during practice looked easy, and as practice continued, he looked smoother and his hands improved.

Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State (5-foot-11 1/2, 203, 4.65) is known to be a ballhawk and his skills were on display in Indianapolis. His ability to track the ball in the air — even when adjusting late — is on a different level than the rest of the safeties in this class. He drifted a bit when he dropped, but he had quick feet and good hands.

Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M (6-foot-2, 198, 4.52) is big and long and his frame made many of the exercises look easy. He was a smooth glider across the field and he swallowed the ball when it came into his reach. He struggled with some of the faster agility drills, but that’s not really his game and it was expected to be something that would be challenging.

Chamarri Conner, Virginia Tech (6-foot-0, 202, 4.51) improved his stock as much as anyone on my draft board coming into this combine. Even though I thought he had defensive back range, I was extremely impressed with what I saw and he delivered a “go back and watch the tape”. Smooth movements, light back pedal, silky tracking ability, ball placement and soft hands were all notes I jotted down on Conner during drills.

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