NFL Combine 2014: Top Prospects Who Must Bounce Back from Lackluster Showings

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NFL Combine 2014: Top Prospects Who Must Bounce Back from Lackluster Showings
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

There are a few top NFL prospects who likely wish they could have a mulligan for the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine after putting together underwhelming performances. 

Thankfully, they still have their pro days, individual workouts and their college tape with which to impress scouts, coaches and general managers before the draft kicks off in May in New York City. 

Furthermore, it's important to note that running a slow 40-yard dash doesn't necessarily mean prospects won't succeed, as Big Mike of The Orange Report points out:

That said, these players would love to improve upon their lackluster showings at this year's combine. Improving their numbers will certainly help their cause when the draft arrives, which is the goal of every prospect preparing for the NFL.

 

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Heading into the combine, everyone wanted to see if Kelvin Benjamin had enough raw speed to become a deep threat in the NFL.

During his 2013 campaign at Florida State, the 6'5", 240-pound receiver was deadly both in the red zone and on long bombs—finishing with 15 touchdowns—but the level of competition is about to get ramped up to a whole other level in the NFL.

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The first cause for concern was his 13 reps on the bench press, but it wouldn't have been as big an issue if Benjamin hadn't run a 4.61 second 40-yard dash. Meanwhile, Mike Evans (who is a similarly built receiver) ran a 4.53 second 40 and looked smoother in all the drills. 

Without the upper-body strength to gain separation at the line, without a polished route-running repertoire and without top-end speed and quickness, he'll struggle to get open at the next level. These were concerns many scouts already had before the combine, and they remain still. 

Given his size and production last year, there's a chance he could be drafted in Round 1 this year, though B/R's Matt Miller isn't convinced he belongs there:

A better showing at his pro day—particularly in the 40-yard dash—will certainly help Benjamin's cause.

 

Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Big men like Louis Nix aren't expected to run fast at the combine, but the former Golden Domer showed up to Indianapolis out of shape and was sluggish in all his drills. 

It was surprising, given the fact that he showed up to Lucas Oil Stadium having lost 23 pounds since early January, according to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune

“Yeah, man. My stomach doesn’t stick out as much,” Nix said Sunday at the combine, per Wiederer. “That’s kind of nice. I enjoy that part of it. My thighs got a little smaller. I just feel sexier, man.”

Nix ran his 40 in 5.42 seconds—the second-worst mark of any defensive lineman—and his time of 8.29 seconds in the three-cone drill was the worst by a defensive player since 2004, according to Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit:

Perhaps his combine can be summed up by one moment, when he comically (and some might say tragically) fell down trying to sick his broad-jump landing.

B/R, via NFL Network

It took him five tries to finally complete the drill, and his distance of 97 inches was tied for the third-worst among defensive linemen—far from sexy.

Nix must show he's better than this at his pro day, or he could find himself falling out of the first round completely after being hailed as a top pick since before the 2013 season began. 

 

Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Over the past two seasons at Arizona, Ka'Deem Carey was one of the nation's most productive running backs, totaling 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground. 

For this reason, some analysts view him as one of the top running backs heading into the league this year. Per Rob Rang of CBS Sports, NFLDraftScout.com rates him as the top back in this year's class, but after he posted an official 4.70 second 40 at the combine, his stock will "certainly" fall, adding, "The 5-9, 207-pound back's staggeringly slow time will certainly drop his draft stock, though he plays much faster than this workout indicates."

Meanwhile, fellow Pac-12 product Tyler Gaffney ran an official 4.49-second 40, causing Scott Wright of DraftCountdown to juxtapose the times between the two players:

Carey used good vision and excellent power to great effect at Arizona, but it remains to be seen if he has what it takes to become a featured back in the NFL.

If he can show better speed at his pro day, then teams will be more likely to look at him as an option in Rounds 2-3. Otherwise, Carey will likely slide into Day 3, thus earning a significantly decreased paycheck for his first few years in the league. 

 

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

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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