Questions That Must Be Answered at the 2013 Scouting Combine
Seeing as how we are still over two months away from the 2013 NFL draft, there isn't a prospect out there that doesn't have a question or two lingering about him.
But the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is a great way to start answering those doubts that could cause a slip on draft day and, consequently, hurt a player's wallet in the process.
So if the question is regarding your work ethic, you had better show up in great shape. Or if it is about your maturity, be prepared to answer all sorts of probing personal questions from 32 different front offices.
And that doesn't even begin to answer the queries about health.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? It's okay. I've made up a handy list of issues that need to be addressed this weekend in Indy. Just sit back, relax and click through.
What's the Real Story on Manti Te'o?
Let's dispense with the most obvious of storylines: What's really going on in Manti Teo's head?
The stout Notre Dame product doesn't owe the public any significant insight into his former "girlfriend situation." However, any team willing to invest millions and possibly a first-round pick has every right to the details. Te'o has undoubtedly been working on his answers for weeks, and he must come across as sincere in his team interviews.
Additionally, there are questions about his physical prowess.
He most certainly has the proper size, but does he have the agility and quickness to grade out as a top linebacker? Can he change his direction quick enough in coverage?
Teams with a need in the middle will certainly be paying attention to the All-American. He could stand to lose quite a bit of money with a poor showing.
Does Alec Ogletree Get It?
Alec Ogletree was going to face some heat regarding his off-the-field issues at the combine before last week. Now, he's going to be under intense scrutiny.
The other highest-rated inside backer in this draft has developed some ugly character warts after being arrested for drunk driving. And this arrest is troublesome for two reasons.
First, he was suspended for four games in 2012 thanks to at least one failed drug test. Unfortunately, that wasn't his first suspension. One poor decision on its own wouldn't be cause for alarm. Three within a year and a half is not a flattering pattern.
Second, the timing of the latest arrest is concerning. Just a week before the biggest weekend of his life, Ogletree made this horrendous decision. If he won't make the right call when his payday isn't ensured, what is he going to do once they start cutting the checks?
Where Should David Amerson Rank Among This Year's Cornerbacks?
If David Amerson had been allowed to come out last year, there would have been much more hype. As a sophomore, Amerson yanked down 12 interceptions.
But only being two years removed from high school nixed those hopes, and his junior season (five picks) has left him lost in the doldrums of cornerbacks.
Amerson has great size (6'2"), but there are questions about his ability to keep up with NFL receivers. A good showing at the combine would go a long way to elevate a player that no one has in the top five for his position.
Is Matt Barkley Healthy?
Things haven't exactly gone as planned for Matt Barkley.
He came back for his senior season with national title aspirations. The USC Trojans ended the season with six losses.
Barkley started out the season as a potential top overall pick. He starts combine week somewhere in the middle rounds.
Now, he won't be throwing at the combine.
The separated shoulder he sustained during the season is becoming a lingering problem, and franchises will certainly be poking and probing for information about his recovery. He'd better hope the results are encouraging.
Will Jarvis Jones' Spine Hold Up?
Some mock drafts have Jarvis Jones getting drafted in the first few picks. Others have him falling toward the back half of the first round.
The disparity doesn't have to do with his level of play, but everything to do with his spine.
Jones left USC for Georgia when doctors diagnosed him with spinal stenosis. Franchises will be digging deep to determine if his condition might prematurely end his career. If he's given a clean-ish bill of health, he'll be a top-five guy.
Should Conner Vernon Be Drafted Earlier Than the Fourth Round?
While watching the Senior Bowl, I noticed a wide receiver from Duke who kept coming down with the ball. They weren't all tough catches, but he seemed pretty sure-handed.
So I did some digging. Turns out Conner Vernon is much more than just sure-handed—he's damned good.
Vernon ended his Duke career as the ACC record holder for catches and receiving yards. Again, that's damned good.
I'll be watching to see how Vernon does at the combine. If he can flash some athleticism, he could definitely improve on his current draft projections.
Can Denard Robinson Catch the Ball?
We all know Denard Robinson is a phenomenal natural athlete. We spent the last three years watching him out-quick and out-sprint people to the end zone.
But he always started the play with the ball in his hands. In the NFL, teams will need to find a way to get him the ball since he won't be lining up under center.
The most reasonable route would be as a wide receiver, since he's too slight to play running back. Yet, Robinson hasn't proved that he can catch the ball, and his Senior Bowl performance left quite a bit to be desired.
A solid performance in position drills would go a long way toward allaying those fears.
Who Is More of a Physical Freak: Star Lotulelei or Damontre Moore?
When it comes to the first defensive player off the board, the debate rages between Star Lotulelei, Bjoern Werner and Damontre Moore.
However, when it comes to who is the most freakish athlete, Werner is left out of the equation.
Lotulelei is well known to even the most casual of draft fans. He's large enough to hold down the middle, but explosive enough to get up the field.
Moore isn't as big, but his natural speed is causing him to fly up draft boards. Whoever is deemed to be the more impressive specimen might earn the higher draft slot.
Who Is More of a Physical Freak II: Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah or Sharrif Floyd?
The next tier of defenders don't disappoint in the athletic category either. Sharrif Floyd, Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah are all ridiculous.
Floyd could end up getting drafted before either of the big men mentioned in the previous slide. He's a penetrating defensive tackle who is excellent with his hands.
Jordan is probably the most well known of the group since he played for a championship contender. His huge frame and explosive quickness make him a fringe top-10 pick.
Meanwhile, Ansah has been burning up message boards after his dominant Senior Bowl performance. If he can perform nearly as well as the other two, he will go before either of them.
Is There a Draftable First-Round Quarterback?
If the draft were today, a quarterback might go in the first round, but there wouldn't be a basis for such a selection. Every signal-caller in this group has some upside and a major flaw or two that should keep them in the green room on opening night.
However, anything can happen at the combine.
If one or two of these guys can prove to be a better athlete than expected, their stock can shoot up. Or if a quarterback known for inaccuracy suddenly hits everything that moves during passing drills, a first-round grade wouldn't be out of the question.
It's all there for the taking, but is anyone capable of cashing in? I don't know, and I can't wait to find out.