Darqueze Dennard is a confident competitor.

The Michigan State cornerback might not be as fast as Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, but when the NFL draft starts in May, Dennard almost definitely will be a first-round pick — and could be the first cornerback taken because of his tenacity in press coverage.

“My mind-set really is, when you line up against (a receiver) one on one, pretty much is I’m going to beat you or you’re going to beat me,” Dennard said Tuesday at Michigan State’s pro day. “And if you put me in a fight, I’m not going to lose.

“When I line up on the receiver, I’m trying to whoop him.”

That mind-set is a key reason Dennard has grown from a two-star recruit out of rural Georgia into the player who should be Michigan State’s first first-round pick since wide receiver Charles Rogers in 2003.

And by all accounts, Dennard won’t find some of the same off-field issues that drove Rogers out of the league after three disappointing seasons with the Lions.

“I think he’s going to be the type of guy that’s going to be around for a long time,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said of Dennard. “He’s extremely disciplined. He’s got great intangibles. It’s the off-the-field things … and the make-up he has as a person that is really going to present him as a No. 1 pick, I would think.”

Tuesday, Dennard didn’t run the 40-yard dash, instead choosing to stand by his official 4.51-second run at the NFL combine last month because teams told him the time was good enough. Gilbert was the fastest defensive back at the combine with a 4.37.

But Dennard, at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, showed plenty of athleticism at pro day in combine events he missed because of a hamstring injury.

He had a broad jump of 11-2, which would’ve tied Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk for the best at the combine. Dennard also had a 36-inch vertical, just better than Gilbert’s 35½ at the combine, though average for his position.

Since the combine, Gilbert has been the top cornerback in most mock drafts, but NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has stood by his opinion Dennard is the best cornerback.

“I think there are more athletic corners in this draft than him, but I don’t think there are any better football players in this draft than him at this position,” Mayock said Tuesday.

Mayock thinks Dennard will be selected somewhere between 10-18.

The Steelers have the No. 15 pick, and coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert were both in East Lansing Tuesday.

The Lions also could consider Dennard at No. 10. When asked about the possibility, Dennard said he’ll be happy wherever he lands.

“I think if you draft Dennard, you know what you’re getting,” Mayock said. “If you’re a press team that wants somebody who will tackle, who’s physical and tough, clean off the field, to me he checks off every box. And I think he’s the most consistent corner in the draft.”