Players to Watch at the Combine
Mike Glennon, QB – North Carolina State
Glennon has emerged as a dark horse to be the first quarterback taken in April’s Draft. He has the numbers and fits the mold of a future NFL quarterback. Scouts will be keeping a close eye on Glennon to see if he’s worth a first round pick.
Collin Klein, QB – Kansas State
After finishing third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, Klein failed to impress in a lackluster performance against Oregon in Kansas State’s Fiesta Bowl loss. Since then, Klein’s been working with former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer. Klein will be looking to show that he’s got what it takes.
Geno Smith's speed and quickness will be things looked at in Indianapolis
Geno Smith, QB – West Virginia
The early season Heisman Trophy favorite fell off towards the end of the season, yet still put up stellar numbers in the Mountaineers’ pass-happy offense. He’ll have to show he’s got the capability to run an NFL offense.
Can Montee Ball carry his success from Wisconsin over to the NFL?
Montee Ball, RB - Wisconsin
The NCAA all-time leader in touchdowns goes into the combine with a strong resume. The big questions surrounding Ball have to do with his durability and speed. He can answer one of them with a good 40-yard dash time.
Giovani Bernard, RB – North Carolina
Bernard had been overshadowed this past season by bigger names in college football, but is now capturing attention of scouts going into the combine. His 1,718 yards from scrimmage will certainly help his stock. With a strong combine, he could easily slip into the first round.
Eddie Lacy, RB - Alabama
Yet another Alabama running back has found himself near the top of the class in this year’s draft. Lacy looks to follow in the footsteps of former Crimson Tide running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. If his average of 6.5 yards per carry doesn’t sell the scouts, his performance at the combine very well could.
Tavon Austin, WR – West Virginia
The little guy from Morgantown has blazing speed, but has a major lack in size standing at only 5-foot-9. It’s been proven in the past that small receivers can make a big impact in the NFL (see DeSean Jackson) so look for Austin to capitalize on his athleticism in front of the NFL scouts.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR - Tennessee
Patterson is one of the more interesting receivers in a mostly underachieving class. However, the junior college transfer offers a great combination of size and speed that intrigues those at the pro level.
Robert Woods, WR – Southern California
Woods recorded 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns during his junior season in 2011. He had a bit of a down year in 2012 with 76 catches for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns. He still has great hands and speed, but will have to show scouts that he can be consistent.
With rumors of the #1 pick swirling, Joeckel's most important interview will be with Kansas City
Luke Joeckel, OT – Texas A&M
Arguably the best player in the draft, Joeckel offers a massive stature to go along with plenty of experience out of Texas A&M. However, it’s one thing to look the part and another thing to act the part. Joeckel will look to act the part with a strong combine later this month.
Jonathan Cooper, OG – North Carolina
The guard getting all the attention this year is Alabama’s Chance Warmack (and his stomach), but Cooper is not too far behind him. The 2012 Outland Trophy finalist blocked for Giovani Bernard’s 1,000-yard campaigns in 2011 and 2012, while earning All-ACC honors in 2012. With a good combine, he could get into the first round.
Barrett Jones did everything right in college, a good showing in Indianapolis will help him even more
Barrett Jones, C - Alabama
Jones played every position on the offensive line at Alabama and played each of them well. He’s the total package with size, quick feet and pass blocking ability. Keep an eye on him to make a push for a first round grade with a big combine.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE – Brigham Young
Ansah was relatively unknown prior to his breakout 2012 season that saw him rack up 62 tackles (13 for a loss) and 4.5 sacks. He fits the bill with his size at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, but he’ll have to show that he’s more than a one-year wonder with his technique and power at the point of attack.
Dion Jordan, DE - Oregon
At first sight, Jordan looks like a Jevon Kearse type of defensive end, standing at 6-foot-7, while weighing a fairly light 243 pounds. His main struggles have come from his inability to shed blocks and defend the run. He’ll look to prove his strength at the combine.
Sam Montgomery, DE – Louisiana State
Montgomery has recorded over 13 tackles for a loss and 8 sacks in each of his last two seasons at LSU. However, there has been a long line of busts to come off the LSU defensive line (see Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson). Montgomery will have to show he’s a more special talent coming off the edge.
Manti Te’o, ILB – Notre Dame
Te’o is already under the microscope thanks to the controversy surrounding his fake girlfriend. Despite all the off-field attention, Te’o had a strong senior season racking up 103 tackles and 7 interceptions. He could still be the first inside linebacker off the board with a good combine.
Arthur Brown, OLB – Kansas State
Brown has not been mentioned much in terms of linebackers, but could easily be the third best in the draft behind Jarvis Jones and Barkevious Mingo. Brown made over 100 tackles in his junior and senior seasons, but lacks size at only 231 pounds. Brown must make a statement at the combine with his strength.
Alec Ogletree, OLB - Georgia
Ogletree played second fiddle this season to fellow linebacker Jarvis Jones, but still had a powerful presence, registering 111 tackles. He must show that he has the speed to be an effective ILB at the NFL level. Keep an eye on Ogletree’s 40-yard dash time, which could prove to be the difference between a Day One and Day Two grade.
Johnthan Banks, CB – Mississippi State
Banks brings plenty of experience to the table as a four-year starter in college who also has a great frame at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. His weakness lies in his straight-line speed when covering receivers vertically. He’ll look to garner a strong 40-yard dash time in late February.
T.J. McDonald, FS – Southern California
McDonald has the build of a linebacker, but the speed of a safety. His 112 tackles proved him to be one of the best on USC’s defense in 2012. Some could consider him a clone of former USC safety Taylor Mays, which may not be the best comparison McDonald would want to hear. He’ll have to prove his instincts are on the same level as his athleticism.
Kenny Vaccaro, FS - Texas
Vaccaro comes from a Texas secondary that has produced a pair of pros in Titans safety Michael Griffin and Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. Vaccaro recorded over 100 tackles as a senior in 2012 and has great instinct. He could solidify himself as the top safety with a strong combine.
Kevin Gallagher is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism, a ComRadio Production Director and an NFL Draft Show Producer. To contact him, email email@example.com.