Former Big Ten Stars Who Will Shine at the 2014 NFL Combine
The Big Ten is ready to pump a strong class into the NFL draft that could feature several first-round picks.
However, many of those potential first-rounders find themselves on the fringe of Day 1—and this weekend's NFL combine will make that ultimate difference.
Three Ohio State stars, Carlos Hyde, Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier, can boost their stock in Indianapolis, but they aren't the only ones.
Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman and Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste are among the potential stars from the Big Ten headed to the NFL.
Click on for a breakdown of the seven Big Ten stars to watch in Indy.
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
Stanley Jean-Baptiste has drawn some great comparisons to pros at the cornerback position.
Jean-Baptiste picked off four passes and broke up 12 last year and is regarded as one of the top corners in this draft.
With that kind of size, he could blossom into an elite corner at the next level, but he'll have to show at the combine that he has the speed necessary.
He knows this, and he'll be ready to make it happen in Indy.
RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
On the surface, Carlos Hyde looks like a typical power running back at 6'0", 235 pounds.
However, at the combine, he'll show that he's much more.
Over the last two seasons, he tallied nearly 2,500 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns and displayed some impressive top-end speed in the process.
ESPN's Austin Ward credited Hyde with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, which could have him rocketing up draft boards.
He won't even have to hit that mark to impress. As long as he's around 4.5 seconds, he'll keep scouts happy.
DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
The NFL Combine is the perfect platform for elite athletes to prove their worth.
Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hagemen might end up as one of the most impressive players in Indy.
At 6'6", 318 pounds, he could add to a resume with some jaw-dropping drill numbers. Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel spoke with Gophers defensive line coach Jeff Phelps about what Hageman will show in front of scouts:
At the NFL scouting combine, Hageman might put on a show.
“He’s a very aggressive human being,” Gophers defensive line coach Jeff Phelps said. “He’s really a freak of nature. He’s every bit 6-6, 300-plus pounds and really can run like a deer. He does some things that are unbelievable and I think he’ll really wow some people at the combine.”
Phelps adds that Hageman has a 36-inch vertical jump and can effectively pull off a 360-dunk on the basketball court.
If he lives up to that billing, he'll be the talk of the weekend.
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
Allen Robinson spent the 2013 season as the security blanket for Penn State's freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
He caught 97 passes for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns and was a Biletnikoff Award finalist.
He has excellent hands, and at 6'3", 210 pounds, he could be dominant at the next level. Much of that is thanks to his leaping ability, as detailed by Dustin Hockensmith of PennLive.com:
Robinson might not be getting the credit he deserves for his raw physical talent. His leaping ability has been documented at Penn State, where he led the team with a 37-inch vertical and 10.08-foot broad jump. A competitive 40-yard dash time could make the difference between a first or second-round grade.
Look for Robinson to add to his already impressive resume in Indianapolis.
CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Bradley Roby returned to Ohio State for his redshirt junior season with hopes of solidifying himself as a first-round draft pick.
Instead, he might have moved himself off the first-round radar after suspension and injury limited his overall output.
Roby said he is healthy now and intends to participate fully at the combine. He is considered a borderline first-round pick, but he could improve his stock with a strong workout. Roby has run the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds at Ohio State and hopes to match or surpass that in Indianapolis.
With his speed, athleticism and willingness to sacrifice his lean frame in run support, Roby has all the tools to be a success in the NFL.
A time anywhere near the 4.3 mark will have Roby in great shape on draft boards.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz didn't have eye-popping production at Iowa.
In his senior season he caught six touchdown passes on 30 total receptions for 299 yards. However, even though he didn't show the receiving chops as some other tight ends, it doesn't mean he doesn't have that in his arsenal.
I was more of a blocker at Iowa. You can always improve your route running. Football is a lot more complicated now.
I can show teams I'm a blocker, but I can also stretch the field. I can take the top off the defense and be a dual-threat tight end. The NFL has a lot of tight ends who can only block or only be a receiver, but I was able to do both at Iowa.
Fiedorowicz doesn't have to have an outstanding combine, but he has what it takes to show enough speed and athleticism to boost his profile.
LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Ohio State's Ryan Shazier had a fantastic season, earning first-team All-America honors after tallying 134 tackles, including 22.5 for a loss while forcing four fumbles.
He's one of the most highly touted linebackers in this draft as is, and he could add to his stock in Indy.
The 6'2", 230-pound linebacker made some bold claims about his speed to Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer:
“I feel every running back I’ve faced this year, I’ve been faster than them,” Shazier said.
Shazier himself claims he’s run a 4.35 40, which would be stunning, but times from your school are always faster than what shows up at the NFL Combine.
As Lesmerises said, he might not quite hit that time when he hits the turf in front of scouts this weekend, but if he just comes close, he'll be a combine standout and likely a very high pick in May.