NFL Draft 2013: Players with Most to Gain at This Year's Scouting Combine

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2013

Dec 1, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) returns a blocked field goal 50 yards for a touchdown during the third quarter in the 2012 SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit:  Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL's annual parade of prospects known as the scouting combine begins this weekend in Indianapolis. It is the ultimate job interview for all the players taking part in it, though it can also be the moment where dreams are crushed. 

Since we want to see the positive side of things considering the combine has yet to start, we wanted to take a look at the players taking part in the festivities who have the most to gain. 

Everyone can move up or down with the slightest little thing—whether it is their height being half an inch shorter than expected, or weighing two pounds more than they are listed in the media guide, or giving a unique answer to a Wonderlic question—so a lot will change this weekend. 

Here are the players with the most to gain at this year's combine. 

LB Manti Te'o

Te'o has been one of the players that everyone wants to see at the combine because of the situation involving Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. 

One month ago, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said that Te'o's stock doesn't drop that much because of one strange incident. 

And I try to tell everybody all the time: the draft is a process. It doesn't happen just because of your regular season or your bowl game. He's coming off a bad bowl game. He's coming off a situation where he's become somewhat of a national punchline.


On the field, he's a first-round pick to me, and at that point, he's just got to rehab everything, look people in the eye and say, 'I am that guy, maybe I made a mistake.

It is time for Te'o to show the NFL what he is all about on the field. His situation off the field is different but not nearly as problematic as some things that we have seen from players with real issues in the past. 

This is his best chance to show the world that he can be the All-American linebacker he was in college and not the player getting beaten like a drum in the BCS Championship Game against Alabama. 

LB Alec Ogletree

Even if you take out the last week, Ogletree would still have plenty of questions to answer off the field this weekend. He was suspended for the first four games of last season due to a reported drug test failure

Because Ogletree was so great on the field after returning, all of those doubts seemed to go away. He was being talked about as a top-10 draft pick leading up to the combine and all was right with the world. 

Then came last weekend, when Ogletree's agent told Mike Florio of that his client was charged with a DUI. 

Given how talented Ogletree is, he likely won't slip out of the first 15 to 20 picks. But he can push himself back into the top-10 conversation by explaining his actions and letting teams know who he really is and what he is about. They need to know that now more than ever. 

CB Xavier Rhodes

On a much lighter note, Rhodes doesn't have the personal baggage of Te'o or Ogletree coming into the combine. He is one of the most intriguing cornerback prospects in a draft class that isn't stacked with talent at the position. 

We saw this year with players like Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson that having bigger cornerbacks is critical with wide receivers getting bigger and stronger every season. 

Rhodes does not have elite speed or instincts on the outside, but if he shows enough coverage skills and can run in the 4.5 range, he could vault up draft boards because of his 6'1" frame.