NFL Draft: 5 Prospects in Position to Fly Up Big Boards

Scotty McGrawCorrespondent IIIFebruary 6, 2014

NFL Draft: 5 Prospects in Position to Fly Up Big Boards

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    With the NFL Scouting Combine only two weeks away, the most athletic draft prospects will fly up draft boards. Around this time of year, the players who clock the fastest 40s or register the most bench reps will catch the eye of scouts across the country.

    In anticipation of the upcoming combine, here's a look at five very athletic prospects whose stock is posed to boost immensely in the next few weeks. 

5. CB Jason Verrett

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    CB Jason Verrett's career at TCU was nothing short of impressive. His physical style of coverage locked down opposing receivers throughout the season.

    Verrett's downside is his frame. He stands at 5'10", 176 pounds, despite playing like he is 6'0", 200 pounds. A source (via B/R's Matt Miller) noted that "if [Verrett] were 1.5" taller, he'd be a top-five pick."

    If Verrett puts up strong combine numbers, his stock will surge from a low first-round grade to a mid- to high first-round grade. 

4. CB Justin Gilbert

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    Justin Gilbert is another cornerback in prime position to boost his grade. Gilbert stands at 6'0", 200 pounds. If he clocks a sub-4.5 40, Gilbert's size and speed combination will not go unnoticed.

    Gilbert is also a factor on special teams. He returned six kickoffs for touchdowns during his college career. If he displays elite athleticism at the combine, Gilbert could sneak into the top 10.

3. WR Brandin Cooks

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    In 2013, WR Brandin Cooks hauled in 128 receptions, 1,730 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. He did so in the Pac-12, a conference that boasts elite cornerbacks like Oregon Ducks CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

    Standing at 5'10", 186 pounds, Cooks will be a viable slot receiver. He also began returning kicks toward the end of the 2013 season, and with proper coaching, his return game could be lethal considering his speed and athleticism.

    Cooks has put up impressive numbers. If he thrives at the combine, his stock will be propelled into the top 10.

2. DL Ra'Shede Hageman

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    On the field, DL Ra'Shede Hageman is nothing short of a beast. He stands at a towering 6'6", 311 pounds and wreaks havoc in the trenches. 

    Defensive linemen especially catch eyes with an athletic combine performance. In the 2012 combine, DT Dontari Poe's 44-rep bench press and 4.56 shuttle boosted his draft stock. He was the 11th overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Hageman is in a situation similar to Poe's back in 2012. If he matches his size with elite athleticism, Hagemen will be a top-15 pick without a doubt. 

1. DE/OLB Dee Ford

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    DE/OLB Dee Ford's impressive Senior Bowl performance put him on the radar. His regular season was also excellent. Ford totaled 10.5 sacks along with 14.5 tackles for loss.

    While he won't surpass DE Jadeveon Clowney, Ford can lock up a top-10 ranking by the end of February. If all goes well at his pro day, Ford's stock could rise into the top five considering his statistics and athleticism.

    In a league dominated by quarterbacks, pass-rushers are extremely vital. The demand for edge-rushers is high, and Ford can lock up an early pick with a strong combine considering the league-wide need at his position.