Depending on your opinion, the NFL Scouting Combine is either the best or the worst part of NFL draft season.
Although a player's performance in the 40-yard dash or shuttle run isn't the best indicator of future success, there's no question that it holds some value. It's why a running back such as LenDale White drops into the second round and why another such as Chris Johnson jumps into the first.
This year is no different, as plenty of prospects will be using the showcase in Indianapolis, Ind., to boost their draft stocks and build some momentum for the coming months.
Here's a list of which positions are on what days, followed by five players who most need to perform well at the combine.
|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||Safeties, Defensive Backs|
Prospects to Watch
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
This time last year, E.J. Manuel looked like he might be a third- or fourth-rounder. Then, he went to Indianapolis, blew scouts away with his athleticism and got himself drafted No. 16 in the first round.
Logan Thomas could see a somewhat similar rise should he perform well.
Getting into the first round is almost impossible for the former Virginia Tech quarterback, as his game film is way too bad to overlook. But if Thomas can run a good 40-yard dash and post a good vertical and shuttle time, teams may be tempted enough to take a chance early.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
The question isn't whether De'Anthony Thomas will be the fastest player at the combine. It's whether he'll break any records with his time in the 40-yard dash.
Thomas is the kind of player who thrives in situations like the combine. He's a freak athlete, and this is the perfect place for him to put his God-given assets on display.
Still, NFL Network's Mike Mayock thinks the Oregon running back is destined for the later rounds, per The Oregonian's Tyson Alger.
"Because of his speed and playmaking ability, in today's NFL he's more valuable than he would have been six, eight, 10 years ago," Mayock said, per Alger. "He probably goes in the fourth-round area."
If Thomas can blow away scouts in the other combine events, perhaps he can move into the third or even second round.
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Jared Abbrederis is bound to get typecast as some sort of Wes Welker/Julian Edelman clone, even though that couldn't be further from the truth.
The positive for Abbrederis is that he's a great route-runner, one of the best Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal has seen in years:
I'll argue that Abbrederis is the most impressive route runner to enter the draft in at least 5 years.— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) February 15, 2014
The biggest question about the former Wisconsin Badger is his speed. Being a solid possession receiver will get Abbrederis selected in the third round. Should he run a 40-yard dash in about 4.5 seconds or less, he'll catapult up the board.
Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
In his most recent Scouting Notebook, B/R's Matt Miller had Stephon Tuitt listed as No. 1 in his "Five Down" section:
A player with true first-round potential, Stephon Tuitt looked like a top-15 pick during Notre Dame's 2012 season that culminated with a loss in the BCS title game. Then the 2013 season began.
Tuitt struggled to generate any burst off the ball this year, and that heavy-footed play was a consistent issue. He did have problems with a knee injury that likely limited his push off and mobility, but Tuitt was a shadow of his former self in 2013.
Although he played at defensive end at Notre Dame, Tuitt projects as more of a defensive tackle. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of talented DTs heading into the draft. He is likely looking up at Louis Nix, Aaron Donald, Ra'Shede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan.
Tuitt needs to look good at the combine to stop the bleeding a bit and demonstrate he has the physical tools to transition to defensive tackle. Or maybe he'll run well enough to make teams think he could succeed as a defensive end.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Bradley Roby was a big disappointment last year. He was an All-American in 2012 but then failed to build on that in 2013. He was criticized for his performance in the win against Wisconsin, during which Abbrederis caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.
However, Roby has gone on record to say that he was unfairly scapegoated in that game, per Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch:
That’s from people who don’t really watch football or really know what’s going on. ... I think that’s the fans who see a couple big plays and try to attribute that (to one player). At the end of the day, I had eight tackles, three pass breakups, a pick, and we won the game. That would be a great game for everybody (else).
That's unlikely to assuage scouts' fears about him, though.
Roby needs to go into Indianapolis and make a good impression. That could be the difference between getting selected in the first or second round.