Tight ends, offensive linemen and special teamers will get the on-field action kicked off on Saturday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
While this first wave of prospects isn't the sexiest, there are some potential superstars in these groups.
The combine offers scouts, general managers and coaches a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with players who could potentially become part of the future for every club.
Interviews are a big part of how teams evaluate players, but it's what they can do on the field that most people want to see. With that in mind, here's a look at the top prospects to keep an eye on during the first day of field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina
Dynamic tight ends who have the size and speed to outrun linebackers and safeties have become highly valuable commodities in the NFL these days.
Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and Rob Gronkowski all fit into this category, and Eric Ebron out of North Carolina looks like the next superstar at this position. He's also extremely confident in his abilities and believes he should be the first tight end selected.
“In my mind, am I the top tight end? I don’t know. But should the draft play out that way? In my mind, yes, I think it should,” he said, via Vinnie Iyer of SportingNews.com.
Measuring in at 6'4" and 250 pounds, Ebron has the size, athleticism and hands to become elite, and it will be fascinating to see if he has elite speed when he runs the 40-yard dash at the combine. Additionally, events like the vertical leap and broad jump will show what kind of explosive athlete he is.
Which player will have the best pro career?
Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech
Ebron is a different kind of player than Jace Amaro.
Whereas Ebron looks to have Vernon Davis-type abilities, Amaro looks and plays like Jimmy Graham, as Josh Norris of Rotoworld and NFL.com noted during his weigh-in at the combine:
Have said Jace Amaro does Jimmy Graham like things. Amaro measured in at 6053 and 265 lbs, per @andrewperloff. Graham was 6062 & 260 at Indy— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 20, 2014
For such a big guy, Amaro moves extremely well on the field. He was used primarily as a slot receiver in Texas Tech's offense, rather than as an in-line tight end, and he thrived as a pass-catcher in that system, hauling in 106 passes for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Nobody expects Amaro to run a blazing-fast 40 time, but he could surprise. Furthermore, if he shows good strength and explosion in the bench press and the jumping drills, teams will be even more intrigued than they already are.
At this point, Amaro is slated by most analysts as a late first-round pick, including CBSSports. With a strong combine, he potentially could vault up into the top half.
Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
Elite left tackles are as highly coveted as any non-quarterback in the league, and Auburn's Greg Robinson appears to have what it takes to become such a player.
For much of the 2013 season, it was Texas A&M's Jake Matthews who was being touted as the undisputed top left tackle in this year's draft class.
However, once Auburn started making its push toward the BCS National Championship Game, Robinson's stock began rising and it's continued to do so leading up to the combine.
Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com thinks Robinson could easily be taken before Matthews on draft day, noting his incredible upside:
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
In addition to impressing coaches during interviews, Robinson can do a lot to boost his stock this weekend by showing strength in the weight room, running well in the 40-yard dash and showing a fluid kick-slide during the on-field drills.
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