NFL Combine 2012: Small-School Offensive Stars with a Chance to Shine

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystFebruary 20, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Team personnel record times in the 40-yard dash during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine gets underway in Indianapolis Wednesday, much of the focus of the media's attention will certainly be on the likes of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin of Baylor, running back Trent Richardson of Alabama and Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who is a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award as college football's top wide receiver.

However, there will be some players from much smaller universities who will also be participating in the combine, and for them the workouts are even more important, as a strong showing at the combine can open the eyes of scouts and coaches and significantly bolster that player's draft stock.

With that said, here are a few names that you may not have heard much about before today but with whom you'll likely be more familiar after they light up Lucas Oil Stadium.

B.J. Coleman, QB, Tennessee-Chattanooga

After he threw for nearly 3,000 yards in 2010, last year was an up and down senior season for Tennessee-Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman, with the 6'3" 235-pounder missing four games due to a shoulder injury.

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. had this to say of Coleman, who also had an up and down week at East-West Shrine Game practices last month:

"He's got the arm, and he's got the size," Kiper said. "You look at him at 6-3 and change and at 235 pounds, and you look at what he was able to do during his career at Chattanooga. I thought he ran a little hot and cold and had an accuracy issue here and there, but the long-range possibilities are evident."

While Coleman's size and arm strength aren't in question his accuracy and release have been erratic at times, so a big showing at the combine could vault Coleman into the middle rounds of the draft, especially given the premium placed on the quarterback position.

Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State

After missing the entire 2011 season due to a torn ACL, Utah State running back Robert Turbin returned to the field with a fury in 2011, racking up well over 1,500 rushing yards and averaging over six yards a carry.

In regards to the 5'10" 216-pound Turbin, Wes Bunting of the National Football Post said:

"[Turbin] has the skill set to mature into a starter at the next level, but because of his lack of a great burst, he doesn’t strike me as a guy who is ever going to have a real gaudy yards per carry average. Nevertheless, he should be able to keep you ahead of the chains."

If Turbin can alleviate some of those speed concerns and doubts about his durability, then the former Aggies standout can lock himself into the draft's fourth round where he'd represent a solid value for teams looking to add some "pop" to their backfield.

Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

6'3" 222-pound wide receiver Brian Quick may have attended a small school at Appalachian State University, but he's already garnered a fair amount of notoriety, with ESPN ranking Quick among the top 10 available prospects at his position.

Of Quick, who caught 71 passes for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns a season ago, Bunting remarked:

"I think Quick is a nice, big coordinated receiver who possesses some real upside and at worst can be a solid red-zone threat. And if he puts it all together could carve out a niche similar to the one of Chargers big wide out Malcom Floyd at the next level."

The wide receiver rankings are very much in flux right now, and the impact of the 40 yard-dash times in Indianapolis on them could be substantial, so it's essential for Quick's draft stock that he come out of the gates...

You know, Quick.