Predicting Former South Carolina Players' 2014 NFL Combine Performances
All eyes will be on former South Carolina superstar Jadeveon Clowney, though the Gamecocks have five other players at the combine who are expected to land on an NFL team.
With the addition of Bruce Ellington to the draft, South Carolina could have four players go in the first three rounds, which is pretty good considering how few players the team lost after the 2013 season.
The NFL Scouting Combine is the proving grounds for NFL prospects to improve their stock or hurt it in the process.
Here are my predictions for former South Carolina players' 2014 NFL combine performances.
There's a reason Jadeveon Clowney is in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick. He's a total freak and that's why it's his nickname.
Clowney has been waiting for the opportunity to dazzle NFL scouts at the combine. He has a chance to put up Secretariat-like numbers for a player of his size.
The real question is whether Clowney can run a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash. Many doubt that a player at 275 pounds and 6'6" can do it, but if there's a player of that stature that can, it's Clowney, and he is hungrier than ever.
I think Clowney will be really close to that 4.5-second mark. He could be just a couple hundredths of a second slower than the prestigious time. His strength is also without question.
It's hard for Clowney's stock to really go up. But, he is going to put up legendary-status numbers at the combine and become an irresistible player in the draft.
Clowney has to reestablish that his motor is without question. No one will doubt him anymore after his monster combine performance.
Kelcy Quarles is coming off a huge season and will look to carry that momentum into the combine.
He has ideal size for a defensive tackle and also possesses the speed to have an impact as an interior pass rusher. His 40-time won't be anything special, but a sub-5-second time will suffice and he can easily do that.
Quarles' biggest quality is well, that he is big. The kid has long, powerful arms and a solid frame, which should bode well for the strength tests like the bench press. He has a strong burst of power and this will impress scouts.
Quarles helped his stock throughout the season and his performance in the strength department will also improve his stock and possibly put him into the late second round.
Bruce Ellington's decision to leave South Carolina early may wind up being a good one, but he will need some help at the NFL combine.
As a very undersized receiver at 5'9", Ellington has a lot to prove. Ellington is a former basketball player so his jumping ability will be a major selling point, and he will perform well in the vertical jump. He needs to be impressive in order to make NFL scouts bypass his stature.
Despite being short, Ellington is strong and thick-framed for a receiver. Through strength and jumping, Ellington can jump up the draft boards.
He doesn't have breakaway speed, but a 40-yard time around 4.5 seconds is what he will run and that will be enough to get the job done.
Ellington's stock won't go up, but it also won't go down at the combine. He will stand his ground.
In a league that is now marveling over long, athletic and physical cornerbacks, Victor Hampton fits the new mold for the position in today's NFL.
Hampton isn't a 6-footer, but he is close. It's his physical style of play that has NFL scouts giving this kid a good look over as a coachable player.
He's raw in technique and needs a lot of work there. But, his physicality and athletic talents will serve him well at the combine.
Hampton will run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and he will slightly be above-average for cornerbacks in the strength tests.
He will also make scouts happy with his quick acceleration, a major plus for a cornerback. This will be seen in the three-cone test, where Hampton can demonstrate his change of direction and speed bursts.
Hampton has the raw physical ability to impress at the NFL combine and he will. Though, his unrefined technique will be the thing that holds him back from breaking into the early third round or late second.
Connor Shaw made his living in college as a gritty, dual-threat quarterback who straight up got the job done. A proven winner, Shaw used his balanced arsenal of skills to win games and become one of the best, if not the best quarterback in South Carolina school history.
At the next level, Shaw doesn't have the talents that translates into immediate success.
He has the speed that NFL scouts may like given the recent success of Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. Though, he doesn't have the arm that any of these guys have, which immediately lowers his draft stock.
Shaw can make throws with accuracy, but he doesn't have a cannon or even an above-average arm. That will drop him significantly down the draft boards.
He needs a big combine performance, but I just don't see it happening. Shaw was a great college football player. His will to win games and ability to interview well can help him with NFL teams. Though, his NFL combine performance won't help his case for the draft.
If there is one player who has the most to prove from South Carolina's pool of NFL hopefuls, it's Chaz Sutton. He's played behind Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney at various points of his career, so he's a little unseen.
He doesn't have the on-field numbers that scream success, but he has been solid and has a lot of experience.
Sutton isn't slow, but isn't quick for a defensive end and also isn't super imposing with his size, so he has a lot of work to do at the combine.
He will run around a 4.85-second 40-yard dash, but he will need a strong run performance to show that he can be explosive out of his stance, which can translate into a solid push-off-the-line in the pass rush.
Sutton is teetering on the verge of being a seventh round draft pick and I see him remaining in that spot after the combine.