The top prospects heading into the NFL draft will look to showcase their skills and pure athleticism in front of hundreds of scouts and league personnel at the 2014 NFL scouting combine.
For some college stars, the "Underwear Olympics" is a great chance to shoot up draft boards. The fastest and strongest love to compete in the 40-yard dash and the bench press to prove they have the potential to shine at the next level.
On the other hand, highly rated players have fallen out of the first round in the past as it becomes clear they cannot handle the physical demands of the NFL.
Obviously, the pressure is high for almost everyone in attendance as this becomes part of the biggest job interview of their lives heading into the NFL draft.
Fortunately, fans can now watch the action at home and judge the future stars for themselves. Follow this guide for the latest information of the week-long event.
When: Feb. 22 - 25
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
Watch: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL Network Online
Time: Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 22: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams
Sunday, Feb. 23: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Monday, Feb. 24: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Tuesday, Feb. 25: Defensive backs
Which Quarterbacks Will Separate Themselves?
The combine does not tell you much about quarterbacks that cannot be seen on film, especially considering the players are throwing passes with no equipment, no rush and no defense. However, scouts still love to analyze mechanics in this situation.
With potential first-round picks like Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr in attendance, teams will do a lot of analyzing over the few days. In reality, any of them has a chance to be the top pick in the draft.
Additionally, the drills can give everyone a chance for the more athletic quarterbacks to move up draft boards, like Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas. Mike Huguenin of NFL.com discussed what to expect out of the 6'6" quarterback:
There are questions about Thomas' ability to be an NFL quarterback. There are no questions about his athleticism. Bortles is often praised for being athletic for a 230-pounder -- Thomas outweighs him by about 25 pounds and should wow all onlookers with his work in the drills. He had better wow folks with his athleticism, because when NFL decision-makers view most of his game tapes, more than a few probably will cover their eyes.
College stars like AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd and more will also try to show they have what it takes to be NFL players, and this might be one of their last chances.
Who Will Post the Best Numbers?
Every year, there is someone who seemingly comes out of nowhere to turn heads with incredible numbers in the drills.
In 2013, Margus Hunt finished with 38 reps on the bench press while also posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.60. Linebacker Jamie Collins ended his day with top marks in the broad jump, high jump and both shuttle runs.
It is hard to guess who will shock the world this time around but one person looking to break records is Jadeveon Clowney. The projected top-five pick has the size and strength to be an elite defensive lineman, but it is his speed he wants to talk about.
The South Carolina star explained his goals for the 40-yard dash to Yahoo!'s Anwar S. Richardson:
I hope to run a 4.4 (second) right now. That’s my goal. On hand times, I’ve been running 4.4s. I hope I can get a 4.4 at the combine. A 4.5, I’m not too worried about … I ain’t going to run a 4.6. I’m probably going to run low 4.5, 4.4.
For someone listed at 6'6" and 274 pounds on his college profile, this would be an incredible number.
How Will Small-School Players Fare?
The college stars that played in the SEC or Big Ten throughout their career have likely proven themselves against top competition. However, those from smaller schools need events like the combine to showcase their abilities.
One such player is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois, who is quickly rising up draft boards due to his work at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller quoted a team's scout on the quarterback:
One team in the NFC North loves Jimmy Garappolo. Told me “his arm is better than (Derek) Carr’s, and he’s smoother in the pocket.”— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 10, 2013
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports also profiled linebacker Tyler Starr out of South Dakota, providing this scout's description:
He's tall, long and extremely athletic and plays with a high motor. I'd heard some chatter about him this fall and went to see him, and he's way more athletic than I thought he'd be. You still wonder if he has enough power and strength at the point of attack right now to be an every-down guy, but he really has a knack for rushing the passer and he has some real third-down value.
Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir, defensive end Howard Jones of Shephard and center Matt Armstrong from Grand Valley State are also some small-school stars to keep an eye on.
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