The Oklahoma State Cowboys only have two players invited to the NFL combine this season; however, both guys have the opportunity to show off their great physical skills and move up draft boards in the process.
Justin Gilbert is undoubtedly the top prospect coming out of Stillwater and will likely turn in a performance that affirms his current first-round status. Josh Stewart, on the other hand, is a more interesting player to watch given his performance over the past two seasons.
In 2012, Stewart turned in a 101-catch, 1,210-yard campaign that made him look like one of the next great NFL slot receivers. Unfortunately, his 2013 campaign was plagued by injuries that hampered his stock. However, with a solid combine performance he could shoot up the boards and become a middle-round pick.
Let's examine how both of these great Cowboys will perform in the various combine drills.
The first thing scouts will look at is Gilbert's overall size, one area where the young cornerback will make NFL talent-evaluators drool. At 6'0" and 200 lbs, Gilbert possesses ideal size for the position and could back that up with a decent showing in the bench press drill.
Gilbert has spent four seasons in Oklahoma State's world-class strength and conditioning program, so don't be surprised if he's near the top of the list of cornerbacks in bench reps.
He will probably do just as well in any speed or agility drill due to his track speed and exceptional kick return ability. Look for Gilbert to flash at least 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash and impress in the rest of the speed drills as well.
Additionally, expect Gilbert to have a better-than-average vertical leap and broad jump, given his overall athleticism.
In fact, Gilbert will likely come out of the combine as one of, if not the most, physically prepared cornerbacks in this draft. His skill in all types of coverage (particularly man coverage) should lead him to produce well in the skill position drills, and the tape will back up that performance.
The one area Gilbert could really improve is his run defense. He's just not as aggressive in the area as scouts might like. However, that shouldn't factor much into his combine performance and will be something that scouts see when they watch his tape.
All in all, Oklahoma State fans should expect to see their star cornerback post a great overall showing in the combine. Gilbert's well on his way to being a top-10 pick in this year's draft.
Unlike Gilbert, Stewart isn't going to impress with his size. That being said, it doesn't really matter too much, considering his position. After all, Wes Welker is only 5'9", and Randall Cobb is the same height as Stewart at 5'10".
One thing Gilbert and Stewart both have in spades is speed. Both should clock a time somewhere around 4.5, if not better. However, it's what both players can do with the ball in their hands that will really make them stand out.
Of course, that's harder to show at the combine and will be something scouts need to see on tape, but Stewart's ability to rack up yards after the catch and return kicks will only help him in his draft standing. He could impress in position drills, especially with his route running.
Obviously, don't expect to see Stewart's name at the top of any strength tests or any drill meant to assess leaping ability. There are just too many elite athletes much bigger and better suited for that role.
But expect Stewart to be impressive enough at the drills his position puts a premium on to at least be drafted in 2014. It's unlikely he'll be the first slot receiver off the board, but given his 2012 production, it will be difficult to pass up on his skill in the middle or late rounds.
Look for Stewart to come off the board no earlier than Round 5, but don't be surprised if teams wait until Round 6 or 7 due to his nagging injuries in 2013.