NFL Combine 2013: Fastest-Rising Prospect at Every Offensive Skill Position

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans scores his second touchdown of the game on a 29 yard pass play in the second quarter against defensive back Kenneth Crawley #2 of the Colorado Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20,2012  in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine isn't in the books quite yet, but for offensive skill position players, a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done. 

Quarterbacks, running back and wide receivers—the most visible, popular, fantasy relevant positions—all worked out on Sunday, testing themselves in both physical and skill-specific ways.

Every combine sees at least a handful of players rise of the draft board, and this year was no different. Whether it translates to the NFL field remains to be seen, but for now, they're the talk of the league.

Here are three guys who stood out the most at their respective position:


Quarterback: Tyler Bray, Tennessee

Welcome back to the conversation, Mr. Bray. It's been quite some time.

Bray, a 6'6'' paragon with massive arm strength, entered 2012 with massive expectations. Some, like The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre even had him pegged as a potential No. 1 overall pick. But his junior season was disappointing (to say the least) and even in a weak quarterback class, Bray became an afterthought.

In Indianapolis, however, he forced scouts, teams and writers alike to reconsider. He measured in (predictably) big, but also passed the eye test on the field. Balls were zipping off Bray's right arm, and more importantly—especially given his rocky tenure at Rocky Top—they did so with accuracy.

There's always plenty of room for movement in the quarterback rankings, this year, perhaps, more than others. Will Bray be able to keep the momentum going? That remains to be seen. But he's off to an impressive start. 


Running Back: Knile Davis, Arkansas

Much like his fellow SEC brother above, Davis entered 2012 with high expectations but eventually became a forgotten man. His Razorbacks sputtered to an embarrassing 4-8 record; his hamstring forced him to miss occasional time; and when it was all said and done, his numbers dropped by almost 1,000 rushing yards.

But Davis looked like a prospect reborn in Indianapolis, running and lifting his way toward the top of a weak RB class. He finished first among true running backs with 31 reps on the bench press (Wake Forest fullback Tommy Bohanon had 36), and second with a tidy 4.37 in the 40-yard dash.

Sabermetrician Bill Barnwell—formerly of Football Outsiders, currently of Grantland—helped build a number called the speed score. The new-age metric combines size with a player's 40 time to get a more-accurate read on how impressive a dash truly was (the exact formula: (Weight * 200)/40 time^4).

Of Davis' performance at the combine (at least before his time was adjusted down a slight touch), Barnwell tweeted the following:

Every team values advanced metrics differently, and in the long run, tape usually speaks much louder than numbers. But most GMs are privy to these newfangled methods of evaluation, so it wouldn't be shocking to see Davis go early.


Wide Receiver: Robert Woods, USC

It's officially a trend: Woods, like Bray and Davis, rebounded from a hugely disappointing season with a great showing at the combine.

He entered 2012 a bona fide favorite for the Biletnikoff Award, but instead spent the year playing second banana to Marqise Lee. But in Indianapolis, Woods reminded GMs and scouts alike why they expected such big things in the first place.

His 4.51 40 time was not unimpressive for a man with his imposing bodily proportions, and he looked good everywhere else he worked out too. Resident draft guru Matt Miller took notice, and has already started nudging him up the draft board:

This year's group of wide receivers are good, talented and deep, which probably puts a cap on how high Woods can go. But it'll certainly be interesting to watch his attempt at ascension.