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2014 NFL Draft: Prospects with Question Marks That Still Need Answers

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2014 NFL Draft: Prospects with Question Marks That Still Need Answers
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The combine may be over, but not every prospect was able to walk away with his draft stock as high as possible.

While some prospects were able to boost their stock or keep it at a nice level, others were unable to convince scouts that some of the questionable areas surrounding their game are nothing to worry about.

This fear of the unknown can consume front offices around the league and cause some to remove prospects from their boards. As always, it takes just one team that believes in a prospect to scoop him up, but a few big-name players in particular have some work to do if they still want to be in consideration by most teams in the top two rounds.

 

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Teams that take a prospect for his overall athletic prowess are usually in for a bad time.

UCLA's Anthony Barr is an athletic freak, a rare trait he put to use in the Pac-12 last year to finesse his way to 10 sacks.

But as a few scouts told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Barr is more of an athlete than football player at this point:

"Really athletic," one scout said. "He's got pass-rush ability. The guy was a running back until two years ago, so he's got hands. Some of the toughness is still not there, but he's a great kid. Great effort. Top 10." Long, fast and productive on the rush. "Looks the part athletically but is not a football player at this point," another scout said. "More developmental. He'll get overdrafted."

It is not outlandish for teams to draft a player based on his future potential, but it is a risky endeavor with a strong potential to backfire. Barr is one such case, and he needs to show teams that he is not a one-dimensional player who lacks proper awareness before they can truly justify taking him near the top of the first round.

Little time remains for Barr to make his case, but a desperate team that believes in his upside may make him a very rich man, regardless.

 

Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin

As the inside linebacker behind C.J. Mosley in most experts' rankings, Chris Borland has a lot of hype to live up to in order to justify what is likely a second-round selection. If that.

When one takes into consideration Borland's negatives, it may be hard for a team to grab him in the first two rounds. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler has the details:

While far and away the biggest negative, Borland's short arms, which will not stack up well against others in the pros paired with a 5'11" frame and arguably subpar speed, give him the look of a risky investment for linebacker-needy teams.

As Zach Heilprin of ESPN captures, Borland is not too concerned about what he lacks in the measurements department:

It is a fair point. Borland displayed a strong nose for the football while at Wisconsin. How seriously the NFL takes his physical numbers remains to be seen, but Borland has much to prove before the draft, not to mention once he makes it to the NFL.

 

Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

On paper, Bradley Roby has everything an NFL team could want.

Roby is 5'11" and 194 pounds with great speed, but unlike Borland, the problems with his game have nothing to do with the physical aspects.

No, Roby's issues come up on film from the 2013 season, where he was badly exposed in several games after entering the year as top-10 material. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller put it best back in December:

Well, now he's had two with similar issues. Michigan State's offense exposed Roby (again) as a stiff-hipped cornerback who gambles too often on routes. He's big, physical and athletic, but he's flawed too. Roby is still a first-rounder, but he's not the top-10 player he looked to be last fall.

Roby will always show well in drills. He's simply an elite athlete. But since experts have had a chance to take a deeper dive into his film, the problems are obvious, and guys like Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller are having no issues passing him in terms of draft stock.

There is an outside chance Roby may still go in the first round by the time the draft rolls around, but the team that elects to make that happen does so at a great risk.

 

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