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NFL Combine 2014: Top Prospects Who Made Biggest Impression in Indy

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NFL Combine 2014: Top Prospects Who Made Biggest Impression in Indy
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The NFL combine is the most interesting mass job interview on the planet. 

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The best NFL prospects are allowed to strut their stuff in measurable drills and subjective interviews that all will play into their future contracts. A good or bad showing is worth millions of dollars on these prospects' first contract. 

Of course, those are the extreme circumstances. Most prospects won't have "good or bad" showings. They will simply perform about as expected. 

As always, however, there are a few who manage to really stand out. 

Here are the three who made the biggest impressions at this year's scouting extravaganza. 

 

Jadeveon Clowney, DE

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Entering the combine, it was tough to see a way that South Carolina prospect Jadeveon Clowney was going to make a positive impression. 

His otherworldly athleticism already was enough to have him in consideration for the No. 1 selection. Well, wouldn't you know it, despite huge expectations, this athletic freak still managed to turn heads. 

There was one lackluster area for Clowney, as he was able to put up only 21 reps on the bench press. Still, that is of little concern. Clowney has long arms which makes reps on the bench more difficult, and this is a poor representation of explosive strength, which is where Clowney really shines. 

The 6'5", 266-pound prospect put that explosion on display in the 40-yard dash, where he led all defensive linemen by running it in 4.53 seconds. 

To put this in perspective, check out this video of Clowney's run against fleet-footed quarterbacks Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick from back in 2011:

GIF Credit: Bleacher Report

Although Clowney's top speed is impressive, what really grabs attention is how quick his initial burst is. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler highlights the importance of this: 

Clowney also showed off his explosion in the leaping drills. Al Jazeera's Michael Eaves passed along his results in a tweet: 

As for his lackluster bench press numbers? CBS' Bruce Feldman puts that into perspective:

NBA superstar Kevin Durant was terribly weak in the bench press with his long, skinny arms. It's worked out alright for him.

Much was expected out of Clowney at this combine and he still managed to impress. He just made it very hard for any team to pass on him in this draft. 

 

Khalil Mack, LB

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr appear to be in a battle to be the first linebacker off the board, and perhaps the first player taken at any position.

NFL.com's Mike Huguenin passed along that prospect guru Mike Mayock said this past Friday on Minneapolis radio station KFAN that Mack would be his No. 1 overall selection.

None of this is likely to change after both had impressive showings at the combine. 

Barr and Mack essentially posted identical runs in the 40. Mack posted a time of 4.65, and Barr 4.66. 

Mack checks in at 6'3" and 251 pounds. This certainly makes his time in the 40 all the more impressive, but it isn't near the Clowney realm. 

However, he put up 23 reps on the bench, jumped 10'8" in the broad jump and had a 40-inch vertical. Those results were all better than Clowney.

To be clear, none of this gives him much separation for Barr, but that is a good thing for Mack. He is a far more polished player than Barr, who is a converted running back. For Mack to display athleticism equal to or even better than Barr's solidifies his elite draft stock. 

 

Greg Robinson, OT

As freakish as Jadeveon Clowney's exploits are for a man his size, I'm not sure they are more impressive than what Auburn's Greg Robinson has been able to do. 

For starters, Robinson has wonderful size for a tackle. He is 6'5", 332 pounds and has 35-inch arms. Arm length is vital to handling edge-rushers in the NFL, and Robinson's arms have ample length. 

Despite those long arms, he was still able to post 32 reps on the bench. Also, despite carrying over 330 pounds, he ran the 40 in under five seconds. 

Officially, he turned in a time of 4.92. Unofficially, he turned in a time of "that's not possible." 

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This was noticeably slower than the fastest time at the position posted by Taylor Lewan of Michigan at 4.87, but Robinson has over 20 pounds on Lewan.

Jake Matthews of Texas A&M spent most of the past season being regarded as the best offensive tackle in this class, but I don't think there's much doubt that Robinson will be the first tackle off the board now. 

 

All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.

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