It's almost here, folks, the last major scouting event before the NFL draft. I'm of course talking about the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, an event that's value is often debated but one that's appeal has become apparent in recent years.
There are a few things you can expect this year. A few players will win the combine as workout warriors and will dramatically improve their stock. Somebody will show up overweight, disappoint in the interviews or fail to test in key areas.
And all of us will overanalyze every last moment of the entire ordeal.
But which groups should you be focused on this year? Which days must you tune in. Here, I'll break down the four days of workouts in order of relevance, starting with the least relevant.
4. Saturday, Feb. 23: Tight Ends, Offensive Linemen, Special Teams
Let's be honest—nobody is terribly excited about seeing tight ends, kickers and punters work out. Sorry, guys.
And it's very unlikely that much will change atop the offensive line ranks, as Luke Joeckel, Chance Warmack, Eric Fisher and Jonathan Cooper all look like top-20 picks.
We might see some adjusting of player rankings after the combine—offensive line is a deep group this year—but I'd be surprised if anyone new cracked the ranks of the four players listed above.
3. Tuesday, Feb. 26: Defensive Backs
For now, the consensus seems to be that Alabama's Dee Milliner is the one elite prospect amongst the defensive backs, and after that there are several potential first-round talents at cornerback and safety.
There will certainly be some shuffling of rankings after the combine, but expect players like Johnthan Banks, Kenny Vaccaro, Matt Elam and Xavier Rhodes to remain first-round talents.
One interesting development, however, will be how Tyrann Mathieu tests and interviews. Will NFL teams be impressed enough with the former LSU star to give him a shot?
2. Sunday, Feb. 24: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers
The quarterback position is one of the strongest in this year's draft. The running back and wide receiver positions are two of the weaker positions, at least in terms of first-round values.
Still, these are the sexiest positions in football, and there will be plenty of eyes on those players that might emerge as post-combine hotshots. How will Geno Smith and Matt Barkley look in the throwing drills?
Will a single running back emerge as a first-round talent? Will wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson convince teams he's a top-10 value?
Questions, so many questions. In a year with very few sexy prospects at the three sexiest positions in the NFL, the answers found at the combine are more important than ever.
1. Monday, Feb. 25: Defensive Linemen, Linebackers
There isn't a more talented group of players in this year's draft than those at the defensive line and linebacker positions. In my latest mock draft, I project 14 linebackers and defensive linemen will be selected in the first round.
Plus, the combine will offer a glimpse at the differences between some of the top players. Will Florida State's Bjoern Werner or Texas A&M's Damontre Moore emerge as the highest-graded 4-3 defensive end? Will Ezekiel Ansah blow teams away with his insane size, strength and speed?
Oh, and how will Manti Te'o and Alec Ogletree interview? Without doubt, this is most intriguing group of players at this year's combine.
Here's your television schedule for this year's NFL Scouting Combine:
|Saturday, Feb. 23||9 a.m. to 7 p.m.||K, OL, TE||NFL Network|
|Sunday, Feb. 24||9 a.m. to 7 p.m.||QB, RB, WR||NFL Network|
|Monday, Feb. 25||9 a.m. to 7 p.m.||DL, LB||NFL Network|
|Tuesday, Feb. 26||9 a.m. to 7 p.m.||DB||NFL Network|