NFL Draft 2012: 7 Top Prospects with the Most to Prove at NFL Scouting Combine
The NFL scouting combine is where more than 300 prospects showcase their talents in front of the NFL's 32 teams, and there are a number of players that have more to prove than others when it's their turn on the track, the field and in the interview rooms.
Players that have "the most to prove" are usually players that have experienced on- and off-field character problems, a moderate to severe drop-off in production, or a part of their game that scouts can only pick up on in a one-on-one setting. The combine allows these prospects to showcase their athletic abilities in hopes that teams will draft them on pure potential, rather than the problems they may have experienced in the past.
All prospects have something to prove when they depart for Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine, but here are seven top prospects that have more food on their plates their others.
Vontaze Burfict, MLB, Arizona State
Vontaze Burfict fell down my prospect board as the 2011 season progressed, but this guy has a chance to be a late first-round pick with a solid outing at the combine.
Burfict is one of the best inside linebackers in this year's class because he has solid speed and lateral quickness that allows him to be in position to make tackles and play in zone coverage.
At the combine he will have to excel during the interview process to prove to NFL scouts that he can maintain a level head on and off the field and show that he can play with fundamentals instead of just pure instinct.
Draft prediction: 29th overall (Baltimore Ravens)
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Much like Burfict, Janoris Jenkins is an exceptional athlete that will have to prove himself during the interview process.
Jenkins would be a top-10 pick if character issues were not a factor, and it is hard to believe he can say anything that can improve his image at this point. He will be a first-round pick despite all this, and he should land somewhere between picks 14 and 23.
Draft prediction: 14th overall (Dallas Cowboys)
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
RGIII is a special talent that has the potential to become an elite dual-threat NFL quarterback.
Griffin surprised us all with his historic Heisman campaign in 2011, and it will be interesting to see which team pulls the trigger on the quarterback.
There is no questioning Griffin's athletic ability, but the true test will come during the interview process as teams check on Griffin's IQ for their specific offensive system.
Expect a franchise to trade up to the No. 2 slot as teams will want the quarterback based on potential alone.
Draft prediction: second overall (Washington Redskins; trade with St. Louis Rams)
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
There always seems to be one player that sparks a heck of a lot of controversy heading into the scouting combine, and this year's player is none other than South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
A number of reports have been circulating that Jeffery was overweight and out of shape, but Bleacher Report lead writer Matt Miller disapproved those statements with this article.
I agree with Miller's article, but there is still no denying the wide receiver will have the most pressure heading into the combine. The good news for Jeffery is that he will have the opportunity to shed the doubters with a solid 40-yard dash and shuttle time. Stil, a feat that is easier said than done.
Draft prediction: 33rd overall (St. Louis Rams)
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon is the best wide receiver in this year's class, and it is hard to imagine him falling out of the top 10.
The only threat that could hinder Blackmon's top-10 status would be his 40 time, and I really don't find it to be much of an issue.
Some scouts, on the other hand, do take the 40 into deeper consideration, which means that Blackmon could fall with a bad time. The wide receiver has some of the best hands in football, and he showed the ability outwit defenders.
He plays much bigger than his 6'1", 207-pound frame would indicate, and he reminds me of Hakeem Nicks coming out of college.
Draft prediction: fourth overall (Cleveland Browns)
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
Chris Polk had a disappointing outing at the Senior Bowl, which means scouts will need to see an impressive athletic performance to warrant a high draft pick for the running back.
The three-cone, short shuttle and the other various agility drills will help scouts learn about his true natural speed and body flexibility to quickly hit the hole and change direction.
Polk is also injury prone, which could ultimately hurt his stock on draft day.
Draft prediction: 25th overall (Denver Broncos)
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Dre Kirkpatrick has the size, speed and strength to compete with the NFL's top receivers, and he may be able to match up with the NFL's new hybrid tight ends after a year or two of grooming.
The interview process will be the most important aspect for Kirkpatrick at the NFL combine because of a recent arrest involving marijuana. The charges have since been dropped, but NFL teams will still wonder if Kirkpatrick is worth the risk.
Draft prediction: 17th overall (Cincinnati Bengals)