- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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One point that resonated here over the last few weeks was that 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine were most important for cornerbacks and receivers. The reason is that it's the closest measure to pure speed that scouts can get.
Along those lines, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter seemed to solidify their standing as prospects worthy of our attention as Patriots early-round possibilities.
Trufant ran 4.38. Hunter ran 4.44.
Perhaps with this in mind, Trufant was linked to the Patriots in the most recent first-round mock draft produced by Clark Judge, the senior NFL writer for CBSSports.com.
"Figure any cornerback works for these guys; one of these days the Pats will find a cornerback in the draft that sticks," Judge writes.
Likewise, CBSSports.com Senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco tabs Hunter for the Patriots.
"They have to get better on the outside and Hunter can do that," he writes.
Analysts view the cornerback and receiver positions as similar in the sense that the true value seems to come in the late first round area, and into the second round.
Hunter, at 6-foot-4 and 196 pounds, caught the eye of ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay at the combine.
"I thought Justin Hunter had a phenomenal workout and nobody is talking about it," McShay said on the 'First Draft' podcast with Mel Kiper (listen HERE). "I just don't understand. I went back and looked at Julio Jones a couple years ago and Jones was about 24 pounds bigger, but in Hunter's defense, he was about an inch and a half taller. They ran almost identical 40 times. You look at the vertical jump, it was better for Hunter. The broad jump was identical. Some of the shuttles, Hunter was a little bit quicker as well.
"Hunter, there is one problem -- he's not strong/physical. It leads to some drops when he's in traffic and going over the middle. He can get stronger. ... I think he's one of the more underrated players in this draft if a team can work with him to get stronger. He has a chance to be a real big-time weapon on the outside."