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Arizona defensive back Dane Cruikshank showcases strength at NFL Combine

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NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Only one former member of the Arizona Wildcats made their way to the NFL Combine, but he made the most of it.

Defensive back Dane Cruikshank showcased what we already knew made him unique at his position group: strength.

The corner-turned-safety did 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press in Indianapolis, which was tied for most among all defensive backs that were in attendance.

This is the only drill result available for Cruikshank on the NFL’s website, but we do have his measurements too.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com gave Cruikshank a prospect grade of 5.16, which means he thinks that the former Wildcat has a “better-than-average chance to make NFL roster”.

Here is Zierlein’s analysis of what he sees from the big defensive back.

Height, weight, speed prospect who has a chance to be drafted off his measurables and Combine testing alone. Cruikshank does have talent and is a hungry hitter, but he may lack the consistency in coverage to hold up as a full-time safety or cornerback. His ability to run and hit could make him a Day 3 target for a team looking to turn him into a backup defensive back and special teams ace.

The strengths and weaknesses align with what Arizona fans probably think of Cruikshank as well. He’s a big guy who can make big hits and plays near the line of scrimmage, but he struggles with some of the coverage fundamentals and can be burned by decent wide receivers.

Cruikshank thinks that the chance to play safety as a senior allowed himself to showcase a wide array of skills that he can bring to an NFL team.

“The experience was great,” Cruikshank told Emory Hunt about playing at the East-West Shrine Game. “It gave me another chance to showcase my ability. I’m definitely a corner at heart but I showed my versatility. I can play a lot of positions in the secondary, and that’s what I wanted to showcase to scouts at the East-West Shrine.”

So what are the differences between playing corner and safety?

“Safety you gotta think a lot more because you gotta tell people what to do more so you gotta have a lot of knowledge of the game,” explained Cruikshank. “Corner is basically you’re playing man-to-man coverage, cover-3, cover-2, something like that so it’s kind of a little bit easier. There’s a little more to it but at safety you definitely gotta be a very smart corner.”

Cruikshank’s not really one that lacks in confidence at any time, so you have to think that a strong showing at the combine will only help him as we move closer to the draft.

“I talk a lot of smack when I play the game. I try to get under receivers’ skin. That’s just who I am,” said Cruikshank. “To be honest I don’t fear anybody when I go out there. That’s just how I am. I feel like I’m the best corner in this draft, best safety in this draft, and that’s just my confidence. My confidence is through the roof and that’s who I’ll always be.”

Arizona’s pro day will be held later in March. The NFL Draft runs from April 26-28.