The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine is a week long exercise in finding out everything you need to know about a respective prospect.
There are 40-yard dashes and vertical leaps to test physical prowess. The Wonderlic test and various interviews with decision-makers examine cognitive capabilities. Even past indiscretions will be discussed at length to help the NFL decide whether or not "Player X" will be a problem once millions of dollars are thrown into his lap.
The thing of it is, a vast majority of these players have already been through a similar process. The high school recruitment trail, where college coaches—over a longer time period—study and find players, represents an experience most of this NFL hopefuls can draw on over the next handful of days.
Below, we take a look back at that process for some of the top players at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. Believe it or not, not all the best players getting ready for Indianapolis were the biggest recruiting targets when transitioning from high school to college.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
ESPN Rank: Four stars, 97th overall, No. 8 QB
At first glance, a live arm and a quick release are Smith's most impressive tools. He is a dual-threat quarterback who has delivered consistent production as a pass-first, run-second player. Has outstanding upside.
Scouts.com Rank: Four stars, No. 12 QB
He's 6-4, has a big arm, and has a real nice release. He's gotten a lot more comfortable in the pocket this season as a senior as well. He still needs to work on his throwing motion and he's missed games due to suspensions in the past but there's no debating that Smith's a big time talent.
Where He is Now: Smith enters the Scouting Combine as the top quarterback in the 2013 class. Matt Barkley, the top quarterback in Smith's high school class, suffered through a down year and will now have to fight and claw his way back into the first round. No quarterback in this class has the same combination of physical skills.
OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
ESPN Rank: Four stars, 83rd overall, No. 6 OT
Joeckel is a dominant offensive lineman. He has great size and is an intimidating force on the field. Exceptional run blocker that completely engulfs smaller defensive lineman. Has a real nasty streak and finishes his run blocks on a consistent basis.
Scouts.com Rank: Four stars, No. 15 OT
Though Joeckel is big, he plays low and is always under control. The mark of a good lineman is the ability to stay on his feet and Joeckel rarely hits the ground. He moves his feet very. He is never over extended or out of position.
Where He is Now: Joecekl might not have been a five-star prospect in high school, but he's one of the few in the 2013 draft class. He's now the kind of franchise tackle every NFL team dreams of having protect the quarterback. Barring a huge development, Joeckel will be off the board in the first five picks during April's draft.
DT Star Lotulekei, Utah
ESPN Rank: Three stars, No. 113 DT
Lotulelei has good power in his lower body and can be very disruptive. He has good initial burst and quickness and relies on brute strength to overpower blockers. He will normally pick a side when he plays on the nose and is extremely effective when going to his right.
Scouts.com Rank: Three stars, No. 67 DT
Where He is Now: Lightly recruited out of high school, Lotulelei needed two years at Snow College before making the transition to Division I. Six years later, the Utah Ute has put on 70 pounds and is now one of the top prospects in the 2013 class. He'll be a handful for NFL teams.
OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
ESPN Rank: Four stars, 59th overall, No. 6 OLB
Jones is lean, but plays bigger and more physical than his measurables suggest and is an excellent linebacker prospect. He is still a bit raw, but flashes good range, a relentless motor and great short-area explosiveness that hints at big upside
Scouts.com Rank: Four stars, No. 3 OLB
A big body and a big hitter, Jones has the potential to be a top-flight collegiate LB. Has great closing speed and explodes through ballcarriers. Has very good core strength and above-average body control.
Where He is Now: After originally signing with USC as a top prospect, Jones came off the NFL radar as he transitioned to Georgia. His spinal stenosis in the rear view mirror, Jones once again became a big time player in the SEC. He could be one of the first pass rushers off the board in April.
OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
ESPN Rank: Not Ranked, Signed as DE
Rivals Rank: Two stars, Not Ranked
Where He is Now: A complete unknown during the college recruiting process, Fisher is now one of the top offensive tackle prospects. That undisputed reality should mean he's drafted in the top 10 in April. Few players from the 2013 class have climbed higher than Fisher did over four years at Central Michigan.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
ESPN Rank: N/A
Rivals Rank: N/A
Where He is Now: Football wasn't even in the discussion as Ansah came from Ghana to BYU on a track and field scholarship. According to CBS Sports, Ansah's dreams were rooted more in basketball. At 6'5" and 275 pounds, Ansah is now a legitimate option inside the draft's first 10 picks. His meteoric rise from a nobody to top prosect has no rival in this class.
ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
ESPN Rank: Five stars, 2nd overall, No. 1 LB
Te'o appears to be a man among boys on film, a player whose physical weaknesses are very difficult to spot. He is tall, well-proportioned and thickly built. Plays fast and with great intensity. Fills inside with a good base and shows great power and strength when taking on pulling linemen.
Scout.com Rank: Five stars, No. 1 LB
Te’o would hit piles and just drive them back or lay them out all together. Most of his coverage seems to be in zone, which he seemed to pick up guys in his zone pretty well. Can peel off his zone to make a nice tackle on his receiver and reads the plays well.
Where He is Now: Te'o was arguably the biggest prize in a 2009 recruiting class that included Matt Barkley, Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick and freak athlete Russell Shepard. Four successful years at Notre Dame later, and he's still considered one of the top players at his position. Concerns over his catfishing incident and a poor performance in the National Championship game linger.
OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
ESPN Rank: Three stars, No. 35 in Georgia, No. 16 OG
Warmack is amazingly mobile for a big offensive tackle. This giant of a man carries is weight well and is an intimidating lineman. Very powerful hands and upper body that can deliver on a defensive lineman and sometimes knock him to the turf with one punch.
Rivals Rank: Three stars, No. 45 OG
A big bodied guard prospect, Warmack moves well enough to play right tackle for his Westlake team as a junior. Warmack has a lot of natural strength but hasn't yet learned how to get the most out of it with his leverage and technique...Needs to improve his lateral quickness to reach his potential.
Where He is Now: Warmack was nothing more than your average guard recruit four years ago. Now, he's one of the best guard prospects in years. Depending on how the chips fall, Warmack could be drafted in the top 10—which is mostly unheard of for an offensive guard. He's the real deal.
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