Packers 2018 Draft: Recapping the defensive backs at the combine

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 05: Derwin James
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 05: Derwin James /

The Green Bay Packers need to address their secondary in the upcoming draft. How did the projected top prospects that have been linked to the Packers perform at the NFL Scouting Combine?

The defensive backs were the final group to perform in Indianapolis at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine and the Packers were watching closely.

Despite using last year’s first two draft picks on improving the unit (Kevin King and Josh Jones), Green Bay struggled immensely. The Packers allowed 236.8 passing yards per game, 23rd in the NFL.

They also allowed 55 plays for 20-plus yards, 27th in the league.

According to Ryan Wood of, Green Bay had formal interviews with Ohio State corner Denzel Ward and Florida State safety Derwin James.

Ward ran a 4.32-seconds 40-yard dash, tied for the fastest time with LSU’s Donte Jackson and Tulane’s Parry Nickerson. He posted the top broad jump and was tied for second in the vertical jump.

On the bench press, Ward completed 16 reps, eighth best in the group.

However, the former Buckeye told NFL Network reporter Kimberly Jones that he hurt his ankle, which is why he did not perform the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle.

In Matt Miller’s post combine mock draft, he projected Ward to be selected No. 6 to the New York Jets.

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Ward will have one last opportunity to improve his stock on March 22 at Ohio State’s pro day.

As for James, the versatile safety showed off his athleticism by performing extremely well at the combine.

James ran 4.47 seconds 40-yard dash, tied for seventh best among safeties, completed 21 reps on the bench press (tied for third best in the group) and 40-inch vertical jump, sixth best among all defensive backs.

The former Seminole is projected to be a first-round pick and will likely be selected in the top-20.

Veteran Morgan Burnett’s time in Green Bay may be up. He is set to become a free agent, and no reports have indicated if the Packers will re-sign him. With that being said, selecting James at 14 would make a ton of sense.

Other defensive backs that have been linked to the Packers are Josh Jackson (Iowa) and UCF’s Mike Hughes.

Jackson ran an unimpressive 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.56, 27th out of 41 at the position. His 6-foot-1 frame helped him post a 38-inch vertical jump (tied for fourth best in the group) and he completed 18 reps on the bench press, ties for third best in the group.

Speed is critical in the NFL, especially at the cornerback position, and Jackson’s performance at the combine in the 40-yard dash may have lowered his stock. analyst Bucky Brooks labeled Jackson as one of his day four NFL combine “losers.”

He has a chance to put himself back in the top-15 if he performs well at Iowa’s Pro Day on March 26.

Similarly to Jackson, Hughes struggled in the 40-yard dash posting a time of 4.53 seconds. However, the former Central Florida defensive back showcased his strength by completing 20 reps on the bench press, second best in the group.

Prior to the combine, Peter Schrager projected Hughes to be the first corner taken off the board and selected by the Chicago Bears.

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Luckily for Green Bay, there are a ton of athletic defensive backs that will be available come draft day. An aggressive free agency period may change their first-round needs, but improving their secondary is certainly a priority.