2023 NFL Combine Risers: Christian Gonzalez, Deonte Banks, and Brian Branch Perform Well

    After the second day of NFL Combine workouts, who are the biggest risers when it comes to their stock for the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft?

    2023 NFL Combine Risers: Christian Gonzalez, Deonte Banks, and Brian Branch Perform Well

    The second day of workouts at the 2023 NFL Combine is in the books as the defensive backs finished testing and the position drills. There were some insanely cornerbacks and outstanding performances by players in every group. Here’s a look at some of the prospects who raised their draft stock.

    If you want to keep note of everything surrounding your favorite 2023 NFL Draft prospects, PFN is tracking every single player’s Combine measurement and testing results.

    NFL Combine Risers | Cornerback and Safety

    Christian Gonzalez, CB | Oregon

    Christian Gonzalez probably had the most complete workout of any cornerback on Friday.  At 6’1″ and 197 pounds, he started the day by timing 4.38 seconds in the forty, then hit 41.5″ in the vertical jump and 11’1″ in the broad.

    He was smooth and looked incredibly athletic during position drills. Gonzalez was very quick moving in reverse, tracked the ball in the air, and showed receiver-like hands pulling passes out of the air. His ability to quickly transition from his backpedal to driving to the ball was very impressive.

    Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB | TCU

    If Gonzalez had the most complete workout on Friday, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson was a close second.  His testing marks included 4.41 seconds in the forty, 39″ in the vertical jump, and 11′ in the broad jump.

    Yet Hodges-Tomlinson really stood out in position drills, equaling Gonzalez. He was super fast moving in reverse, quickly flipping his hips, and always on balance.  He tracked the ball incredibly well and looked very athletic.

    The few times Hodges-Tomlinson made an error, he quickly recovered. In the past three seasons, Hodges-Tomlinson matched what he put on display today.  He’s a tough, feisty corner with terrific ball skills.  The problem is he barely hits 5’8″ for the measuring tape, which limits his appeal.

    Deonte Banks, CB | Maryland

    I’ve gushed over Deonte Banks for weeks now, and he did not disappoint during his Combine workout.  Measuring 6′ and 197 pounds, Banks timed an official 4.35 seconds in the forty, jumped through the roof and hit 42″ in the vertical jump, and reached 11’4″ in the broad jump.

    During drills, he looked smooth and fluid and was always on balance. He displayed quick footwork in reverse and the ability to drive to the ball. He does tend to gather into his plant, but that is fixable. Banks cemented himself as a top 25 selection in April.

    Kei’Trel Clark, CB | Louisville

    Kei’Trel Clark was someone I wrote about daily during our Shrine Bowl coverage, and history is repeating itself here at the Combine. His forty time of 4.42 seconds was solid, not spectacular.

    Yet during position drills, Clark was spectacular. He was super quick pedaling in reverse, seamlessly flipped his hips in transition, and did a great job tracking the ball in the air.  Clark was always on balance and rarely had to gather himself

    Jason Taylor II, S | Oklahoma State

    Jason Taylor put in some outstanding marks during testing, timing 4.5 seconds in the forty, touching 43″ in the vertical jump, and reaching 10’9″ in the broad jump.  He was one of the better safeties on the field during position drills.

    He was smooth in his backpedal, showed the ability to burst to the ball out of his plant, and displayed exceptional hands grabbing the ball out of the air. He was always on balance and looked natural. The argument can be made Taylor improved his draft stock more than any other safety in attendance at Combine workouts on Friday.

    Cameron Mitchell, CB | Northwestern

    Cameron Mitchell’s forty time of 4.47 seconds was nothing outstanding considering the other marks in the cornerback group, though his 10-yard split of 1.48 seconds ranked second best at the position. Yet during position drills, Mitchell was outstanding.

    He was quick, explosive, and always on balance.  His ability to fire to the ball out of his plant was special and he was very smooth flipping his hips to transition downfield.

    Jartavius Martin, DB | Illinois

    Jartavius Martin, who played a lot of nickel back at Illinois, continues to impress people.  His marks included 4.46 seconds in the forty, 44″ in the vertical jump, the best of any defensive back, and 11’1″ in the broad jump.

    Martin then showed cornerback-type skills in position drills and was fluid as well as natural. Entering the season Martin was not even a blip on the scouting radar yet now he is poised to be a Day 3 selection.

    Brian Branch, S | Alabama

    Brian Branch started the day with a disappointing forty time of 4.58 seconds. It was straight uphill after that.

    He looked spectacular during drills, and if Branch wasn’t the best defensive back on the field, he was top three. Branch had one of the best backpedals in his group, he was super quick in reverse, and he was so smooth. There was no gathering when he changed direction, just a seamless transition.

    I’ve continually claimed that Branch plays the safety position, the spot he manned for Alabama the past two seasons, like a cornerback. Hence it was ironic the Combine grouped Branch with the cornerbacks.

    Chamarri Conner, S | Virginia Tech

    Chamarri Conner exceeded expectations, testing well and then looking solid in position drills. He timed 4.51 seconds in the forty after measuring 6’1″ and 202 pounds. His vertical jump was 40.5″, and his broad jump was 10’5″.

    He was quick-footed and smooth in position drills showing the ability to flip his hips or drive to the ball. This was a good rebound for Conner, who showed a lot of inconsistency during Senior Bowl practice.

    Tony Pauline is an NFL Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Tony’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @TonyPauline.

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