NFL Draft 2014: Predictions for Top Stars Following Combine Weekend

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NFL Draft 2014: Predictions for Top Stars Following Combine Weekend
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine showcased some major talent over the weekend. With offensive linemen, tight ends and special teamers working out on Saturday, and quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers displaying their talents on Sunday, there was plenty to digest.

Every aspect of a prospect's workout at the combine is heavily weighed. From bench-press reps to 40-yard dash times to position drills, scouts are scrutinizing every physical, technical and mental aspect of a player's game.

Top stars at the combine won't lose much ground in the draft by producing a lackluster performance; however, faltering here could mean missing out on becoming a top-five or top-10 selection. Conversely, top-notch prospects who put up gaudy numbers will solidify their elite draft status.

Let's take a look at a few of the biggest names who worked out at the combine over the weekend and predict their draft futures based on their performances.

 

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Sammy Watkins was already widely heralded as the top wide receiver prospect heading into the 2014 NFL draft. During his combine workout on Sunday, he solidified his status.

As expected, his measurables were impressive. He measured at 6'1" with a 32" arm length and 9.625" hands, and he weighed in at 211 pounds. He has the ideal size of a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. However, that wasn't the only impressive aspect of Watkins at the combine.

He showed his impressive speed, recording an official 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds—the eighth-fastest time of all wide receivers in attendance. Both of his previous unofficial times clocked him with sub-4.4 numbers.

Watkins showed his athleticism, posting a 34" vertical jump and 126" broad jump. His strength was visible as well, as he recorded 16 reps on the bench press—only eight wide receivers totaled more.

Before the combine, he was already seen as a top-10 selection. Following this performance, not only did he solidify that standing, but he could slide into the top five.

With wide receiver-needy teams like the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders holding picks four and five in this year's draft, Watkins could hear his name called earlier than was originally anticipated.

 

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Greg Robinson was seen as the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect behind Texas A&M's Jake Matthews entering the combine. However, after his dazzling performance, the gap between those two athletes closed significantly.

Robinson measured like an elite NFL tackle, standing at 6'5" with a 35" arm length, 10" hands and weighing 332 pounds. His huge frame is impressive, but what he can with it is unbelievable.

He showed off his mix of strength and athleticism during his Saturday combine workout. He ran a 4.92 second 40-yard dash—a blazing time for a man of his size—finishing second behind only Michigan's Taylor Lewan.

His athleticism continued to shine, as the offensive tackle recorded a 113" broad jump as well—tying him for third among offensive linemen.

What makes those numbers special is that he isn't just a finesse player. He has a great amount of strength as well. That was apparent, as he ripped off 32 reps on the bench press—good enough for seventh among his position.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks came away impressed with Robinson's performance and sees the tackle's draft stock soaring:

Robinson moved like a dancing bear on the turf, alleviating any concerns about his ability to take on elite pass rushers off the edge. Overall, the stellar workout in front of hundreds of scouts and coaches will not only send Robinson's draft stock soaring—it could make him enter discussion as the draft's top overall prospect.

There will be some serious talk regarding who is the NFL's best prospect at offensive tackle going forward. Plenty of teams at the top of the draft are in need of the position. It's not crazy to think that Robinson could go as early as No. 2 overall to the St. Louis Rams or No. 6 overall to the Atlanta Falcons following his combine workout.

 

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Jace Amaro did well during his Saturday combine workout. Coming into the draft, he was seen as the second-best prospect at the tight end position just behind Eric Ebron of North Carolina.

Amaro closed the gap with a strong weekend showing.

Everyone knew that he was a big, athletic tight end entering the combine. Those facts rang true after he was measured. He stood at 6'5" with 34" arms and 9" hands, and he weighed 265 pounds.

For such a big athlete, he can really move. He posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.74 seconds, proving his ability to stretch defenses thin up the seam on the NFL level. He was also one of the top performers in the 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle with times of 4.30 seconds and 12.26 seconds, respectively.

His display of athleticism continued, as he posted a 33" vertical jump and 118" broad jump. Those were great numbers, but they were expected. What happened on the bench press is what made his combine workout stand out.

Seen as a finesse tight end, Amaro wasn't expected to bench much. However, he proved everyone wrong, ripping off an impressive 28 reps. That showing was good enough to tie him for second among all tight end prospects.

That display of strength could begin to gain him favor with NFL scouts. Due to his role in Texas Tech's spread offense, he was never seen as a viable blocker. After a strong showing on the bench press, that notion could change.

Even before the combine, Amaro was seen as a first-round prospect. In fact, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald was already calling for the tight end to join the New England Patriots:

This years draft has plenty of options and is filled with several players who fit the Gronk and Hernandez molds. Perhaps the best Hernandez fit is Texas Tech's Jace Amaro. While serviceable as a blocker, he really excels in the passing game. And at 6'5" and 265 pounds, he fits the receiving tight end prototype.

That's why it should come as no surprise many draft boards have him going to the Patriots with their first-round pick at No. 29. The [Texas Tech] star would be a perfect complement to a healthy Gronkowski, much like Hernandez was when he played.

Amaro would be a great fit in the Patriots offense. However, after his combine performance, he may not be around when New England's selection rolls around.

Teams with earlier picks in the first round could use Amaro's services as well. The playmaker-needy Baltimore Ravens at pick No. 17 and the faltering offense of the New York Jets at No. 18 would most likely welcome him with open arms.

 

Note: Official combine results via CBS Sports.

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