NFL Draft 2012: 10 Prospects Riding High After Strong Combine Showings

Jennifer EakinsContributor IMarch 13, 2012

NFL Draft 2012: 10 Prospects Riding High After Strong Combine Showings

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    The combine provides an opportunity for NFL Draft prospects to show teams what they're made of and separate themselves from the crowded field of players.

    A strong performance can skyrocket guys to the top of draft boards, putting more money in their pockets.

    Here's a list of 10 prospects that excelled at the combine raising their stock and solidifying a top draft selection.

Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

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    Stephon Gilmore is a prime example of players using the combine to propel themselves up draft boards.

    He had been sitting close to the middle of the pack of cornerback prospects prior to his performance at the combine. He shattered any concerns about his quickness by crushing a 4.40 in the 40 yard-dash.

    Gilmore's combination of size, speed and athleticism has him gaining momentum that just may land him a first-round selection.

Cordy Glenn, OG/T, Georgia

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    Cordy Glenn went big at the combine, both in his physicality and performance.

    He measured larger than anticipated in his arm length yet still managed 31 reps in the bench press which tends to be tougher on guys with longer arms.

    Glenn also turned heads with an impressive 5.15 40-yard dash time with his 6'5" 345-pound body. Even though linemen don't need to be able to streak downfield, it still proves his athleticism and mobility.

    His impressive display will most likely land him as a late first-round pick, as there are several teams in that spot in need of offensive line help.

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

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    Stephen Hill certainly increased his future NFL pay check with a stellar combine performance.

    Usually overshadowed in the media by other wide receiver prospects, Hill's numbers in the 40-yard dash along with his athletic performance in the catching drills boosted the hype surrounding this Georgia Tech wideout.

    Hill performance potentially catapulted him into the late first-round. At worst, he should be an early second round selection.

Doug Martin, RB, Boise State

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    It wasn't an enormous shock that Doug Martin performed well at the combine. He is a highly-productive runner who already looks and plays like an NFL back. 

    Martin shined by posting 28 reps of 225 pounds, tying for first among the running backs. His other measureables were also impressive and he knocked out a speedy 40-yard dash for a guy his size.

    Doug Martin finds himself more in the conversation as a solid three-down back in the NFL after his combine performance. He could possibly be looking at a second round draft spot.

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

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    Dontari Poe showed up to Indianapolis and crushed the combine.

    At 350 pounds, he ran a sub 5.0 40-yard dash and showed solid strength and agility. With his performance, he demonstrated the ability to play different positions in multiple defensive schemes.

    Poe now has the potential to be taken in the top half of the first round. Through the combine, he has proven the athleticism necessary to shine in the NFL.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

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    While Cousins didn't run the fastest 40-yard dash of the quarterback prospects, he did throw and compete in all the workouts in Indy. That cannot be said about all the signal-callers.

    His passing drills were very accurate and he showed poise behind the football. 

    After the first two quarterbacks atop every team's board, Luck and RGlll, the next tier of guys gets somewhat cloudy. Cousins did an excellent job of distinguishing himself and showing that he is worthy of a first-round look.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC

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    Kalil ran a 4.99 40-yard dash, the second fastest of the offensive linemen at the combine.

    He weighed in a little heavier than his listed college size which helped erase some concerns about his run-blocking potential. He measured 6'7" 306-pounds, ideal for a left tackle.

    Matt Kalil should come off the board early in the first round, as pass-protection is a priority for many teams going into the draft.

Mychal Kendricks, LB, CAL

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    This Cal linebacker excelled at everything across the board at the combine. He showed blazing speed with a 4.47 40-yard dash and posted elite numbers in both his vertical and broad jumps.

    Mychal Kendricks doesn't garner as much media attention as other guys; however, he certainly made a name for himself in Indy. Kendricks can possibly surprise as a second-round selection come April.

Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC

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    Nick Perry had a great combine performance overall.

    He ran fast for a defensive lineman and showed up to Indy 21 pounds heavier than his college listing. At 6'3" 271-pounds, he displayed freakish talent and solidified himself as a first-round guy.

    Perry's combine went so well for him that during USC's pro day he chose to not run or lift. He is riding the wave of his outstanding athletic performance that no doubt raised his draft day stock.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

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    Fletcher Cox turned in one of the best performances by a defensive lineman at the combine.

    He blazed through the 40-yard dash in 4.79, amazingly fast for a 6'4" 285-pound guy. Cox was already known for his athleticism and has now proven he has the speed and burst off the ball.

    After his solid performance in Indy, Fletcher Cox is gaining some steam and making his way up teams' draft boards. He should be selected somewhere in the mid to late first round.