NFL Combine 2013: Underrated Players with a Chance to Shoot Up Draft Boards

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2013

CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 01: Wide receiver Markus Wheaton #2 of the Oregon State Beavers applies a stiff arm to defensive back Darvin Butler #39 of the Nicholls State Colonels in the second quarter of the game on December 1, 2012 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Markus Wheaton is a player that doesn't get a lot of national recognition as a top player in this year's draft class, but the former Oregon State receiver is going to improve his draft stock significantly at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.

Wheaton isn't the only underrated player set to shoot up draft boards, either. 

Players like him with productive careers who can post low 40-yard dash times and who look smooth in positional drills force scouts to take a closer look at his game. After seeing the entire package, these players will see a significant boost in their draft stock.


Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver, Oregon State

Wheaton was one of the most productive receivers in college football in 2012, though he didn't receive nearly the same kind of attention as Marqise Lee from USC.

The former Beavers pass-catcher showed up week in and week out, posting excellent numbers in every game on the schedule, save for a two-reception game in late-October against Washington.

Then, this young man stood out as one of the best receivers at the Senior Bowl in January, when he quietly went about his business, catching everything thrown his way and showing off his exceptional quickness, agility and speed.

Speaking of speed, Wheaton is fast. Last summer, he ran the 100-meters in 10.58 seconds, and he's sure to set the track on fire in Indy at the combine. Don't be shocked to see Wheaton move up draft boards and end up as an early second-round pick.


Gavin Escobar, Tight End, San Diego State

Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert have hogged headlines as the two top tight ends of this year's draft class, but don't fall asleep on Escobar.

Blessed with the size NFL teams covet in their tight ends these days, the 6'6", 255-pound Escobar was the leading receiver for the Aztecs last year, and he is a player who reminds me of the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham.

In three seasons with San Diego State, Escobar caught 122 passes for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns. Given an opportunity to play with an NFL-caliber passer, you can expect him to be a productive player at the next level.

This young man is going to be an excellent pro, and he has a chance to improve his draft stock by posting excellent numbers at the combine.


Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

Hunt was a hot name in draft circles before the Senior Bowl, but he struggled in one-on-one drills and wasn't able to live up to the hype surrounding him.

As a result, his draft stock has taken quite a hit, but that could soon change.

A massive man, Hunt measures in at 6'8" and 280 pounds. He's no lumbering behemoth, either. According to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:

SMU track coach Dave Wollman, predicts Hunt will rep it 45 times next year at the NFL combine and clock a 4.60 40-yard dash. Hunt has cleaned 384 pounds, snatched 345 and vertical jumped 36 inches. 

In case you were wondering, if Hunt can post those kind of numbers, it means he's a freak of the first order.

It would also mean a big jump up draft boards, as teams would be too enticed by his upside to worry about a bad week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Every team is looking for the next J.J. Watt. Hunt could end up becoming that kind of player, with the right coaching.


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