The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is upon us, starting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, with the first group rolling into Indianapolis. The event will end on Tuesday, Feb. 25, when the final group takes the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.
There are potential superstars to be found at every position, and a few notable athletes will likely challenge some of the combine records.
One such athlete who is sure to impress is Jadeveon Clowney, the defensive end out of South Carolina. Per Josh Kendall of The State, Clowney has stated that he plans on putting up "amazing" numbers while participating in every event:
Jadeveon Clowney will participate in all drills at the combine, he says. "The numbers I am going to put up are going to be amazing."— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) January 18, 2014
Not every player is as enthusiastic as Clowney about putting all his wares on the table, however. High-profile quarterback Johnny Manziel isn't going to throw, which has become somewhat standard of late for many of the top signal-callers.
Here's a look at what will be happening on a daily basis at Lucas Oil Stadium while the combine is being held:
- 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
The first day of action features a couple of groups that don't usually get fans excited, as offensive linemen and special-teams players aren't exactly known for putting up jaw-dropping numbers.
However, there are a few prospects in this group who are worth tuning in to see, including tight end Eric Ebron out of North Carolina, tight end Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech and offensive tackle Greg Robinson from Auburn.
All three young men have a chance to be drafted in Round 1, and they could go very high with a strong showing in Indy. Ebron and Robinson, in particular, could sneak into the top 10, and there are some who believe the St. Louis Rams could be in play to land an offensive tackle at No. 2.
While Jake Matthews is considered the top tackle by many, there are also plenty of analysts who see Robinson as the top guy, including Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com:
Don't be surprised if #Auburn Greg Robinson goes before Jake Matthews. His ceiling is as high as anyone in entire draft. Incredible prospect— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) January 27, 2014
Day 2 is the big one, with quarterbacks, running backs and receivers set to hit the field on Sunday.
Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and the other top signal-callers will attempt to impress scouts with their poise under pressure as well as how they throw the ball in the passing drills.
The biggest star from Sunday's action could well be receiver Sammy Watkins, who is being hyped more and more as a potential blockbuster chess piece for one lucky team in 2014. Greg Cosell of NFL Films called him potentially the best prospect since Julio Jones and A.J. Green, per CollegeFootball24/7:
Greg Cosell: Sammy Watkins could be best WR to enter draft since A.J. Green + Julio Jones: http://t.co/9vO0Wkyq5C— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) February 13, 2014
If Watkins can post a sub-4.40 40-yard dash, then he could force his way into the conversation as a top-five pick in May.
Speed, power and quickness will be heavily monitored on Monday, when the defensive linemen and linebackers hit the field. In this day and age, where passing rules the day, more and more teams are looking to stock their rosters with dynamic pass-rushers rather than run-stuffing defensive tackles.
Jadeveon Clowney is Day 3's prized jewel.
As mentioned in the opening, he's expected to put up jaw-dropping numbers in many of the high-profile events. He reportedly ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash before the 2013 season, according to teammate Bruce Ellington, as relayed by Mark Schlabach:
Bruce Ellington said Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash yesterday "When he ran a 4.5, he said he wasn't running hard."— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) July 16, 2013
If he manages to pull off anything close to that number at the combine, then Clowney could force Houston to forget about drafting a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. Writes Dan Greenspan of NFL.com: "If Clowney lives up to the immense expectations and runs anywhere close to a sub-4.5 40, all the suspense of the draft will start with the second pick because the top spot will be locked up."
Wrapping things up on Tuesday are the defensive backs, and this year's class is loaded with potential stars.
One such player is Darqueze Dennard, who is pegged as the top man-to-man corner in the draft by most analysts. However, nobody knows how fast Dennard really is.
He has to prove that he has the long speed to cover top receivers one-on-one on the perimeter in order to be considered worthy of a top selection—a point Mike Mayock made recently, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com:
Mayock says MSU's Darqueze Dennard could go as high as No. 10 to Lions, if he runs under 4.45 at combine— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) February 18, 2014
It will also be interesting to see how the two top safeties measure up against one another in the drills. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama and Calvin Pryor out of Louisville are the two men in question, and if either of them is able to separate from the other, then he will likely become the first safety drafted.
The entire extended weekend will be a grueling test for all involved.
However, these athletes have been training to make a big impression since the end of last season, and they'll happily endure being poked and prodded for a few days in order to improve their draft stock.
After the combine, pro days and individual workouts will keep them busy until the 2014 NFL draft kicks off in New York City on May 8.
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