SEC Football: 10 Standout Stars from the NFL Combine

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 26, 2014

SEC Football: 10 Standout Stars from the NFL Combine

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    The Southeastern Conference sent a crop of superstars to the NFL combine over the weekend and most of them shined as expected.

    While Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney commanded the spotlight, several other SEC prospects had big days as well.

    A strong group of receivers came from the South, highlighted by LSU's Odell Beckham and Texas A&M's Mike Evans.

    Additionally, the league could boast the top two tackles availableparticularly after the phenomenal combine performance by Auburn's Greg Robinson.

    In this slideshow, we'll break down the days had by each of those stars as well as several others.

     

    All combine times and numbers via NFL.com.

Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    LSU receiver Odell Beckham caught some flak for hitting just seven reps on the bench press, but he ultimately showed what his true game is about: speed.

    Beckham tied for seventh among receivers with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, matching the time of Clemson star Sammy Watkins, who could be the first receiver taken.

    He also showed some solid explosiveness with a 38.5-inch vertical jump. 

    The biggest bumps for Beckham came in the 20- and 60-yard shuttles, where he turned in times of 3.94 and 10.93 seconds, respectively. Those numbers put him in the top three among all receivers in both drills.

    He was one of the biggest winners at the position from across the country and the strong combine showing might have solidified Beckham as a first-round pick.

Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney's athletic ability wasn't exactly a mystery going into the combine.

    Oftentimes, players with the hype of Clowney don't look as remarkable on paper, but the Gamecock great lived up to his billing.

    At 6'5", 266 pounds, he blew the doors off the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.53 seconds. He was also second in both the broad and vertical jumps, at 10'4" and 37.5 inches, respectively.

    Altogether, he was widely accepted as one of the weekend's biggest winners.

    However, even though his athleticism is unquestionable, some—such as NFL Network's Mike Mayock (h/t NFL.com's Mike Huguenin)are still wondering about his work ethic and attitude.

Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    South Carolina's Bruce Ellington was in the middle of the pack of a deep wide receiver class going into the combine, but he showed off some elite athletic ability in Indy.

    He turned in a solid 4.45-second 40 time and tied for the third-best vertical jump at 39.5 inches.

    He was also in the top five in the 20- and 60-yard shuttles, just behind LSU's Odell Beckham with respective times of 3.95 and 11.12 seconds.

    These numbers backed up a solid statistical season that had him No. 2 on the Gamecocks in all-purpose yardage with 913 yards.

    Ellington showed the quickness and top-end speed that will make him an enticing choice for teams looking for a versatile playmaker.

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Many of the smaller receivers in Indy turned in better numbers than Texas A&M's Biletnikoff Award finalist Mike Evans.

    However, when filtered through his 6'5", 231-pound frame, few at the position were more impressive.

    His bench press performance was poor at just 12 reps. However, film doesn't lie. Where he lacks in workout strength, he more than makes up for in game strength.

    He also ran a 4.53-second 40 and showed strong leaping ability with a 37-inch vertical jump. The former Aggie also showed some great fluidity and quickness in the shuttles and position drills.

    When his time was done at Lucas Oil Stadium, he showed why he's one of the best receivers on the board.

Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Yes, Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler fell down and turned in a poor 40-yard dash time, which will leave him in desperate need of a do-over at his pro day.

    However, that didn't sour an otherwise strong performance at the combine.

    He showed off some remarkable explosiveness, topping all safeties with a 10'7" broad jump and coming in third with a 36.5-inch vertical.

    The Commodore also hit 24 reps on the bench press, which was No. 2 among safeties.

    He has some impressive strength and athleticism, and with a little more development, he could turn into a solid starter at the next level.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Johnny Manziel showed off his unrivaled playmaking ability time and time again while at Texas A&M, but many were intrigued to see how that would translate on paper.

    The answer: quite well.

    The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner measured just shy of 6'0", but addressed that issue perfectly when speaking with reporters.

    "I play with a lot of heart,” Manziel said. “I play with a lot of passion. I feel I play like I’m 10-feet tall. Those measurements to me are just a number.”

    Manziel turned over the No. 4 40-yard dash among quarterbacks at 4.68 seconds, but his strong day didn't end there.

    He was fifth in the vertical jump (31.5 inches) and fourth in the broad jump (9'5"). Most importantly, he showed where that quickness and improv ability comes from with the second-best three-cone drill (6.75 seconds) and the top 20-yard shuttle at 4.03 seconds.

    After Manziel showed the numbers behind the tape, the Houston Texans will just have to decide whether or not he's worth a No. 1 overall pick.

Jake Matthews, OL, Texas A&M

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Texas A&M's Jake Matthews didn't have to do a lot to boost his already strong stock at the combine, but he turned in a great day anyway.

    At 6'5", 308 pounds, Matthews isn't the biggest physical specimen in the draft, but he's as fundamentally sound as any lineman and showed that he does have some athleticism as well.

    He ran a solid 5.07-second 40 and tied for third in the vertical jump at 30.5 inches.

    The most impressive part of his performance was the three-cone drill, where he turned in the position's second-best time at 7.34 seconds, showing that he'll be able to hang with the speedy rushers at the next level.

    Matthews is a first-round lock and will likely be taken in the top 10if not top fiveof the draft.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Ole Miss standout Donte Moncrief had one of the best combine performances of any receiver from any conference.

    Measuring in at 6'2", 221 pounds, he has the size to be a dominant receiver at the next level and he showed some incredible speed and quickness for his size.

    He turned in an official 4.40-second 40-yard dash—the No. 3 time among all receivers. The only two receivers to turn in better times, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Pitt State's John Brown, measured in at 5'10" and less than 190 pounds.

    As The Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger opined, the big day will likely lead to a nice paycheck in the coming months.

    Moncrief also turned in the No. 3 vertical leap among receivers at 39.5 inches and a position-best 11'0" broad jump.

Greg Robinson, OL, Auburn

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Auburn's Greg Robinson entered the combine hoping to show that he should be the top tackle taken, and he made a great case.

    His size is ideal at 6'5", 332 pounds, but he carries that weight extremely well.

    He was No. 2 among linemen in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.92 seconds while also churning out a solid 32 reps on the bench press and finishing third with a 9'5" broad jump.

    While those numbers are outstanding, he was most impressive in position drills, as NFL.com's Bucky Brooks explained:

    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.

Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Connor Shaw was many things for South Carolina, including an outstanding leader with ridiculous toughness. 

    However, it was unclear just how that might translate to the next level.

    At the combine, he gave himself a great boost. His biggest strengths were shown in throwing drills, where he impressed as much as any quarterback.

    He also had the third-best 40-yard dash (4.66 seconds) and vertical jump (34 inches). Additionally, he was fifth in the three-cone drill and second in the broad jump.

    According to Aaron Brenner, The Post and CourierUSC corner Victor Hampton was quick to wonder why his teammate wasn't garnering more attention in the draft: 

    You want the toughest quarterback in the SEC, plays through every injury you can possibly think of. He can run the ball, he's a dual (threat) quarterback, but he can also throw the ball. I mean, he's a winner. At the end of the day, isn't that what quarterbacks are about? Isn't that what you want as a quarterback, is a winner? He's not a guy who's gonna be rah-rah, but when he does speak, it's gonna mean a lot.

    After a strong showing at the combine, others are going to be asking the same question.