On Wednesday, the NFL will start the long and grueling process that helps determine where this year's top college football prospects will be selected in the 2013 NFL draft.
That's right—it's time for the NFL Scouting Combine.
It's been a relatively short amount of time since Super Bowl XLVII left New Orleans, but that doesn't mean the withdrawals haven't set in for the die-hard NFL fans. Hopefully this year's combine can help squash some of those feelings, because there are plenty of prospects en route to Indianapolis this year to go through the gauntlet of aptitude tests.
We've got you covered with this year's complete schedule, as well as a few prospects to keep an eye on and where to tune in to catch all of the action.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
When: First group arrives on Feb. 20, first group workout on Feb. 23 and last workout on Feb. 26 (all group workouts commence at 9 a.m. ET)
Watch: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
Complete Group List
|PK, ST, OL||OL||TE||QB, WO||QB, WO||RB||DL||DL||LB||DB||DB|
Groups 1, 2 and 3 will arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to go through registration, medical exams, measurements, weight training and meetings with NFL personnel. The first day of on-the-field workouts is Wednesday, Feb. 23.
The other groups will arrive in similar fashion, with the next three coming in sequential order until Feb. 23, when just two groups (10 and 11) will be the last arrivals to Indianapolis. All groups will go through the same events and tests, and the final day of action will be Feb. 26.
|Wednesday, Feb. 20||Arrival, Medical Exams, Orientation, Interviews (Groups 1,2,3)|
|Thursday, Feb. 21||Arrival, Medical Exams, Orientation, Interviews (Group 4,5,6)|
Measurements, Medical Exams, Media, Interviews (Group 1,2,3)
|Friday, Feb. 22||Arrival, Medical Exams, Orientation, Interviews (Group 7,8,9)|
Measurements, Medical Exams, Media, Interviews (Group 4,5,6)
NFLPA Meeting, Psych Testing, PK/ST Workout, Bench Press, Interviews (Group 1,2,3)
|Saturday, Feb. 23||Arrival, Medical Exams, Orientation, Interviews (Group 10,11)|
Measurements, Medical Exams, Media, Interviews (Group 7,8,9)
NFLPA Meeting, Psych Testing, Bench Press, Interviews (Group 4,5,6)
On-Field Workout, Departure (Group 1,2,3)
|Sunday, Feb. 24||Measurements, Medical Exams, Media Interviews (Group 10,11)|
NFLPA Meeting, Psych Testing, Bench Press, Interviews (Group 7,8,9)
On-Field Workout, Departure (Group 4,5,6)
|Monday, Feb. 25||NFLPA Meeting, Psych Testing, Bench Press, Interviews (Group 10,11)|
On-Field Workout, Departure (Group 7,8,9)
|Sunday, Feb. 26||On-Field Workout, Departure (Group 10,11)|
|Saturday, Feb. 23||1, 2, 3|
|Sunday, Feb. 24||4, 5, 6|
|Monday, Feb. 25||7, 8, 9|
|Tuesday, Feb. 26||10,11|
The players will go through a series of on-the-field drills that will be monitored by league personnel. Those drills will include popular names like the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and three-cone drill. For a complete list of drills that the players will go through, check out this NFL.com complete list of workouts.
Prospects to Keep a Close Eye On
DE Margus Hunt, SMU
The huge international prospect emerged as a force for the Mustangs during his time in Dallas, and his measureables are going to be fun to watch during this year's combine.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah is anxious to see him at the combine, and you should be too:
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com wrote an interesting piece on teams looking for the next J.J. Watt in the draft. While Hunt doesn't have the pedigree of a big school or a top-10 billing, there's a good chance he could make a late push at events like this and maybe even sneak into the first round come draft day.
The most impressive stat from his collegiate career is the 17 blocks he accumulated on special teams, but we're interested to see what kind of 40-yard-dash time and leap he puts on paper. This is Hunt's chance to prove he belongs in the first round, and there's a good chance he'll pass the eye test with flying colors.
WR Keenan Allen, California-Berkeley
Coming off what turned out to be a career-ending injury in college, Allen will do the drills at this year's combine with a huge chip on his shoulder. Not only are prospects like Cordarrelle Patterson, Terrance Williams and Quinton Patton threatening to take his place as the No. 1 wide receiver prospect, but scouts have also questioned his straight-line speed.
James Morris noted the same on Twitter:
Although Allen has the prototypical size and strength to be a No. 1 receiver (6'3", 210 pounds), speed kills in today's NFL. A decorated career at Cal will most certainly impress scouts (especially when looking at his QB for those three years), but a good showing can be the difference in being a top-15 pick and slipping down into the second round.
On the field, Allen was a clear favorite to be the best wideout in this class. We'll see if he does anything to confirm that assertion over the next week, or if he slips a little bit due to the other wideouts having a bit more athleticism.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
According to the Los Angeles Times, Matt Barkley will not be throwing at the combine this year. That opens up the field for even more competition and puts the pressure on Smith to have a top-notch performance as the clear-cut No. 1 QB in attendance.
After throwing for over 11,000 yards and 98 touchdowns at West Virginia, Smith made a case for the Heisman trophy early in the 2012 season before fading at the end.
He still is the favorite to be the first QB selected, but there's a slew of other QBs that will be in attendance and will look to take that mantle away from him (Tyler Wilson, Tyler Bray, Mike Glennon).
Between accuracy and speed, there will be plenty of things to look for when Smith is on the field. He'll also be a hot commodity in the meetings with league personnel and when the official measurements are doled out.
Teams are often looking for the next player that reminds them of another league star. Smith gets unfair comparisons to Robert Griffin III, but he can prove that he's of the same breed with a strong showing in Indy.