With the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine getting underway on Feb. 20, there are many top prospects that can do themselves more harm than good.
In a sense, the combine is the true beginning of the 2013 NFL season.
In reality, Feb. 20 is the birth of many NFL careers.
Making a good first impression is key, but for every prospect that bursts onto the scene, there's another that fizzles fast and fades out from the spotlight.
This is not to say that these top prospects will perform poorly at the combine, but their futures lie in the balance. Bringing anything less than their A-game, and their stock will inevitably stumble.
As the combine nears, let's pinpoint which top prospects have the most to lose.
Texas A&M Left tackle Luke Joeckel has quickly become regarded as the best overall player in the entire 2013 NFL draft.
Rightfully so, he's has the perfect blend of size and athleticism that both scouts and quarterbacks dream of.
He's simply the prototypical left tackle that only comes along once a decade.
Still, a poor combine could sway the Kansas City Chiefs away from taking him No. 1 overall.
It's a long shot, but it could happen.
Considering that he's slated by many to be called to the podium first, bragging rights for a lifetime are at stake for Joeckel.
There's no doubt that hybrid pass rusher Barkevious Mingo is a hellacious athlete, but where exactly will he fit in the NFL?
The former LSU Tiger will impress scouts with his talents, but more questions than answers will come out of the combine surrounding Mingo.
He's a tweener who's a jack of all trades, master of none.
He must hone in at one position and skill set pre-combine to reassure scouts that he's a surefire first-round pick.
Without a true identity at the combine, Mingo simply becomes a project.
Le'Veon Bell might be the most punishing running back entering this year's draft, but if he doesn't hit the hole with speed he'll be nothing short of a tackling dummy.
Granted, he may have been a bit hesitant in his final year at Michigan State because his offensive line was decimated by injuries. Trust between skill position players and their offensive line is critical for any team's success.
One can't blame Bell for leaving the college game early, considering Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has a history of riding his running backs heavily. He simply got out of there before his total attempts scared scouts away.
The risky part of his decision is the fact that the majority of ball-carriers aren't typically taken until day two of the draft. A poor outing at the combine may lead to Bell falling to the final day.
It's imperative for him to convince scouts that he has decision-making skills and quickness to hit the hole with speed.
Without doing so, he could regret opting out of his senior year.
A good cornerback in today's NFL is a necessity for every NFL team.
Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks is getting hyped as a franchise cornerback and according to profootballweekly.com, he's comparable to Seattle Seahawks corner Richard Sherman.
Banks doesn't want to let anyone think anything differently.
Now, he has no room for error.
Ohio State's Jonathan Hankins is an absolute terror on a football field.
Good thing for offenses, he's not on the field on every down.
While it's true that no NFL interior defensive lineman is out there on every snap, NFL scouts hate to see a rookie with work ethic issues.
If Hankins were wise, he would learn from 2012 NFL rookie Jerel Worthy, who admitted to taking plays off while at Michigan State. Although he said this after he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, the intensity level of his play was already suspect, and his draft stock slid because of it.
Hankins has to head to Indy in tip-top shape, ready for his stamina levels to be pushed to the brink.
If he makes the grade, hello first round. If not, he could become a second-day steal.
A year ago at this time, wide receiver Robert Woods was the most hyped receiver in the country.
Now, it seems as if he's a consolation prize.
There's no question that Woods is talented enough to play in the NFL, but he must show that he's the best in his draft class. Never mind the fact that he was overshadowed during the 2012 season at USC by teammate Marqise Lee, Woods is as well-rounded as they come.
Now he has to prove that he's the best bet in the draft. Any slip-ups and scouts will begin to look elsewhere.
He may not be the flashiest but being reliable is hard to pass up.
Manti Te'o has had an interesting past few months to say the least.
The thought of him being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2012 is now a distant memory, and the talk of him being a top 10 pick is gone.
Some may say that he has the most to gain after all that has transpired, but in actuality, a less-than-stellar performance at the combine could mean the Notre Dame linebacker plummets in the draft.
Considering that he had a lackluster showing in the national championship game, and that his credibility in an NFL locker room is now questionable, he must hit a walk-off grand slam home run in Indianapolis.
Sorry NFL fans, the 2013 quarterback class isn't the same caliber as the 2012 class.
Still, someone is bound to be chosen as a stretch pick by a team holding its collective breath for a franchise leader.
That player could be Syracuse's Ryan Nassib. The one thing that he has going for him right now is that he's something of a mystery.
There's plenty of buzz surrounding him right now and the louder it gets, the higher he'll go in the draft.
That could all come to a silence after his performance at the combine. A dismal display and he could become an afterthought.