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Checking boxes that matter, recalling Minkah Fitzpatrick

The second day of the NFL Scouting Combine included offensive players on display for the first time, as tight ends joined defensive backs for on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Following is a look at some of the highlights of the NFL Network's coverage of Day Two in Indianapolis:

NO TIME WASTED: Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell made a statement 18 reps into the running of 40-yard dashes, the drill that kicked off the festivities this afternoon.

Mitchell, one of the early and high-profile risers in the pre-draft evaluation process, clocked a 4.33 40 on his first attempt, which wound up holding up as the second-fastest 40 run by a cornerback.

"The box has been checked," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah declared. "Tape? Check. Senior Bowl? Check. Forty? Check."

Mitchell, 6-foot, 195 pounds, made plenty of similar such statements last season and at the Senior Bowl.

"A mixture of Marshon Lattimore and Darius Slay is what one evaluator told me," NFL Network analyst Charles Davis reported.

Lattimore went 11th overall to the Saints in 2017.

Slay was a second-round pick of the Lions (36th overall) in 2013.

Jeremiah listed Mitchell as the 15th-best prospect available prior to the Combine.

That might no longer apply.

"You start asking yourself, if you're a team that needs a corner and you're picking up there in the top 10, what's to keep you from taking him all the way up there?" Jeremiah wondered aloud. "He's literally done everything you can do. The athleticism is elite, the ball skills are elite, the competitiveness.

"He's an impressive dude."

Mitchell ran a second 40 at 4.38.

The NFL Network simulcast his first 40 with Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner's 4.41 from 2022 for perspective.

As the numbers would suggest, Mitchell comfortably prevailed in that graphics-generated matchup.

NFL Network analyst Peter Schrager mentioned Mitchell had been asked about playing in the Mid-American Conference and replied he considered himself the best player in MAC history.

"So, no shortage of confidence there," Schrager noted. "He said, 'I'm not here to be mediocre. I'm here to break records.'"

BRIEF APPEARANCE: Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins posted a scorching 4.28 40, the fastest in his position group, but emerged worse for the experience.

NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales said Wiggins told her his issue was a hip flexor/strain and that he was done for the day.

"He believes he'll be ready for Clemson's Pro Day on April 6," Dales added.

ALONE AT THE TOP: The tight end group consists of Georgia's Brock Bowers, and then everyone else.

"It's extremely top heavy, meaning there's one at the very top," Jeremiah assessed.

Jeremiah likened Bowers to Dallas Clark, "just a more explosive version."

Ja'Tavion Sanders of Texas is Jeremiah's No. 2 at the position, "but there's a whole host of them competing to be that third guy."

THE NEED FOR SPEED: Jeremiah maintained 40 times and testing results that reflect explosiveness are critically impactful in how cornerbacks are evaluated.

"The 40 and the testing numbers matter more for this group than any other position," Jeremiah insisted. "If I'm a corner and I run 4.6 trying to cover a guy who runs 4.3 and he takes off, I can't get there. The speed matters more at this position than any other one.

"And there's a difference between game speed and time speed, of course. But guys, I've been in the (draft) room and seen players adjusted on the board off of testing at this position far more than any other position. You could go a whole year and we might not see you in a lot of man-coverage. You might not have seen a lot of fast receivers this year on tape in your conference. This is where these numbers, they really, really matter with this group."

SAFETY FIRST: Some of the safety discussion involved the importance of consistently being in the right spot from snap to snap and making the right play when it needs to be made.

By definition, that's how the position is played.

"You talk about tackling and just making the plays," Jeremiah offered. "I think it was (Browns defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz who said, 'They call it a 'safety,' not a 'risky.''"

SHINING EXAMPLE: Minnesota's Tyler Nubin is one of the most highly-regarded safeties, in part because of his perceived intelligence and instincts.

Those aren't qualities Nubin developed by accident.

"His favorite study is (Steelers safety) Minkah Fitzpatrick, with the intelligence, the intangibles," Dales reported.

Fitzpatrick's drill work in 2018 was highlighted as an example of how it's done in Indy.

"Man, everything he does is smooth and easy," Jeremiah observed of Fitzpatrick, recognized then as "DB No. 51."

UP NEXT: Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers take the field on Saturday in Indy.

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