The NFL Scouting Combine can be a catapult for a player up draft boards or incite criticism and subsequently lead to a plummeting stock for a college prospect.
There were several players who fit the latter part of the equation, but a few were notable players being watched closely throughout the process.
Whether it was due to failing to post standout numbers in certain workouts or simply not participating in individual workouts, many will need to step up at their school's pro day to impress scouts ahead of the 2014 NFL draft.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the top players in the upcoming draft who experienced underwhelming results at the combine and need to make up for it during the remainder of the offseason.
* All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
It's difficult to put up big numbers in the combine when a player doesn't participate in many of the most important drills at his position.
But with the combine already passing him by, Teddy Bridgewater opted not to join his class during the 40-yard dash or throwing workouts. While he's certainly not the first to skip drills in Indianapolis, former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage points out that it's a risky move, per Chase Goodbread of NFL.com:
They want you to fill out a full resume. Bridgewater will end up running the 40 and doing the other drills he missed, then do his (throwing) workout.
[...] What happens if he strains his hamstring doing the 40? Now that's going to impact the rest of his workout. So you are putting all your eggs in one basket.
While skipping out on the 40 was surprising, Bridgewater made it known before the combine that he wasn't planning on throwing, according to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel:
Bridgewater said yesterday he isn't throwing because he's a perfectionist. Wanted more control over WRs. Also not running today.— Paul Tenorio (@osknights) February 23, 2014
It goes without saying that Bridgewater has to be sensational at Louisville's pro day to set himself apart from the other top quarterbacks in the class.
With Johnny Manziel running a 4.68 in the 40 and Blake Bortles making waves during passing drills, Bridgewater has a lot of room to make up.
But given the fact that he is still viewed as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft along with both Manziel and Bortles, expect Bridgewater to do just enough during his pro day to remain in that top tier heading into the draft.
Michael Sam, DL, Missouri
Heading into the offseason, Michael Sam wasn't seen as a big-name prospect. Yes, he was known among NFL circles along with Mizzou and SEC fans, but not many mid-round prospects steal the headlines or attract as much attention as Sam did throughout the workouts.
That was to be expected as he came out as a gay athlete following the college season. But what he did at the combine was not worthy of attention, which could hurt the Missouri defensive lineman heading into the draft.
Sam finished with a 4.91 40-yard dash, which was actually faster than teammate Kony Ealy's time of 4.92, and finished with just 17 bench press reps, placing him tied for second to last in the workout.
The uninspired showing didn't finish there, as Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News notes:
Despite all that, coaches still wanted to see Sam do the “linebacker conversion drill,” performed by defensive ends who may be asked to shift to linebacker, and again, he struggled. Scouts want to see players shift from a backpedal to a forward sprint in one fluid motion, but Sam needed two shuffle steps to change direction.
It was all validation for those who project Sam as a mid- to late-round pick in May’s NFL draft. He may be able to chase the quarterback, but his limitations in coverage may prevent him from seeing enough time to warrant a high selection.
The positive from all of this is that Sam has another shot at Missouri's pro day. He will look to work on each of the drills and make an attempt at boosting his stock in more comfortable confines.
Though he won't exactly find himself in the first or even second rounds with an impressive showing at his pro day, Sam could climb back up some boards on his way to securing a mid-round selection.
Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Remember way back in 2006 when taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush seemed like an absurd selection?
The value of running backs in the NFL draft has taken a dip over the years, to say the least. Ka'Deem Carey is one of the best running backs in the 2014 draft class and said he's been outspoken about his thoughts on being overlooked, according to Nate Davis of USA Today:
Definitely, I feel like they think the running back spot is going extinct for some reason. (But) they definitely need us. [...] I'm definitely going to make sure that they know that when I step onto the field that they made a good pick and running backs aren't going extinct.
While Carey got it done on the field with the Arizona Wildcats, his performance at the combine fell much short of his mark.
Dion Caputi of National Football Post reports the mediocre number he put up in the 40-yard dash, as Javier Morales of Bleacher Report notes that LaDainian Tomlinson was down on his catching drills:
Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey ran an unofficial 4.65. Figure is average at best, but he's a slasher with good lateral ability.— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) February 23, 2014
Ka'Deem Carey's first run in three-catch drill scrutinized by La'Dainlian Tomlinson. Carey dropped one pass,brought ball into body on others— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) February 23, 2014
The official number later came in at 4.7 seconds. Those times will hurt his stock, but the pro day is yet again a savior for the star running back.
When he returns to Arizona, Carey will have to show that he is worth the hype to move back up into the top of the running back class. His drills outside of the 40 will have to improve, as his career was built on his toughness and ability to find the open lane.
CBS Sports still has Carey listed as the No. 1 prospect in his class, but another poor showing at his pro day could find him falling back in the rankings.
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