NFL Draft 2013: Players Most Impacted by Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the biggest ways that prospects can improve their stock before the NFL Draft. Great workouts and interviews can vault players up the draft boards, and are often the difference between a player being a first- or second-round pick.
However, a bad workout can be even more damaging for a player. A slow 40-yard dash time or low reps on the bench can make teams second-guess their ranking of a player, and can be seen as red flags on draft day.
Here are the players who have seen their draft stock rise or fall the most after their combine workouts.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
West Virginia's Tavon Austin showed NFL scouts and GMs that he can be the most explosive player in this year's draft.
He only measured 5'8", but caught every ball thrown to him and ran one of the fastest 40 times at the combine, 4.34 seconds.
His speed and play-making history at West Virginia will entice offensive coordinators across the league, as he can be absolutely dynamic in the slot. Tim Twentyman from Detroitlions.com wrote that Austin has now solidified his spot in the first round.
Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Manti Te'o's draft stock took another fall this weekend, as the former Notre Dame star posted very slow times in the 40-yard dash.
His best official time was 4.82, 20th among linebackers at the combine. Te'o wasn't expected to be an exceptional runner, but there were 12 defensive lineman, and two offensive lineman, that ran faster times than he did.
Couple his poor 40 times, fake girlfriend issues and his struggles during the BCS Championship Game, and Te'o's draft stock may have fallen more than any other player.
Zaviar Gooden, LB, Missouri
Nobody will question Zaviar Gooden's athleticism after the combine. The Missouri linebacker was top six among linebackers in every single physical test on Monday.
His 4.47 40-yard dash was first among linebackers. So was his 6.71 seconds in the three cone drill. And his 4.18 seconds in the 20-yard shuffle. And his 11.28 seconds in the 60-yard shuffle.
Mel Kiper Jr. had Gooden ranked as his No. 4 outside linebacker before the combine. He may have moved into the late first round with his fantastic athletic showing.
Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan
At the Senior Bowl, Michigan's Denard Robinson left scouts and GMs with questions about whether he could make the transition from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver. At the combine he may have showed that he is doing well in that transition.
Doug Farrar Yahoo! Sports said this of Robinson: "His cuts in routes were much more concise, his overall route concepts were far smoother, and he was able to adjust to a couple of overthrown passes. It was a relative triumph for a guy that looked like anything but a real pass-catcher just a month ago."
Robinson is by no means a sure-thing at wide receiver, he caught just two passes in college, but his athleticism and play-making ability now come with actual wide receiver skills.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Through no fault of his own, a heart condition may hurt Star Lotulelei's chances of being the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. ESPN reported that Lotulelei was asked by combine officials not to participate in workouts after tests revealed an abnormality with his left ventricle.
ESPN's Todd McShay projected Lotulelei to be the No. 1 overall pick to Kansas City, while Mel Kiper Jr. had him going No. 3 to Oakland. Before the tests there was little doubt that he would be one of the top defensive players drafted.
Lotulelei will undergo more tests that may determine not only his draft stock, but also his football future.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The 6'8", 277-pound defensive end benched 225 pounds 38 times, top among defensive lineman. He also managed to run a 4.6 40-yard dash, good for third.
He is still raw, having come to SMU as a shot put and discus star with no football experience, but his athleticism and productivity should move him into the middle of the first round. He had eight sacks as a senior, and blocked 17 kicks during his career at SMU.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Before the combine Damontre Moore was rated as one of the top defensive prospects in this year's draft; ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projected him going No. 2 overall to Jacksonville.
Then Moore got to the bench press and managed just 12 reps, fewest of all the defensive lineman. Fifteen wide receivers all did more reps then Moore.
After his poor showing on the bench, Moore ran a 4.95 40-yard dash, also near the bottom of all defensive lineman. He did not run a second 40, telling NFL.com that his hamstring tightened up.
His poor showing at the combine will be worrisome for teams looking for defensive line help, especially with so many other prospects performing well.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Tyler Bray should be flying up draft boards after his performance during passing drills at the combine.
The Tennessee quarterback was so impressive that NFL.com's Bucky Brooks wrote that he "might be the most gifted passer in the 2013 NFL Draft." He also wrote that Bray may have an advantage over other quarterbacks because of his experience in a pro-style system.
If there was ever a draft where a quarterback could drastically vault up teams' draft boards, this might be the one. The position is so weak that Mel Kiper Jr. did not have a single quarterback taken in the first round of his latest mock draft.
Bray still needs to convince teams that he has grown up and can lead a team, but if he has one of the best arms in the draft, somebody will take a chance on him.
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