NFL Draft 2011: Cam Newton and 10 Players with Most to Gain at Scouting Combine
Every year at the NFL scouting combine, there are players who see their stocks drastically rise or fall as a result of their production in drills and their measurements.
Often times, players rise and fall dramatically as a result of 40-yard dash times and bench press reps.
Some players who have excellent combines see their stock rise to levels they never imagined possible. Other players can have a solid track record but can fall in the draft if they do not show scouts the necessary tools.
This season things are no different for the class of 2011 rookies. Players use the combine as a way to show off the hard work they have been doing for the previous several months.
Here are 10 players with the most to gain from the upcoming NFL scouting combine.
10. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Dalton is a name that has not been getting a lot of press, but could be selected higher than most people would think.
At TCU, Dalton showed great leadership and did an excellent job of protecting the football. He also is more athletic than he gets credit for.
However, some scouts wonder whether he will simply be asked not to lose games during his career.
Dalton's arm strength has also been in question by several scouts. If Dalton can use the combine to prove he has an arm capable of making a variety of throws then he could rise to become a second or third-round selection.
9. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Most scouts see Gabbert as a likely top five selection, so obviously there is only so much that can be gained from the combine. As it stands he looks to be a solid fit for the Arizona Cardinals picking fifth overall.
However, there are teams picking even higher that could justify selecting a quarterback. Especially if the quarterback uses the combine to prove he is an NFL ready product.
If Gabbert shows he has the skills to become an elite quarterback in the NFL then he could get consideration from the Buffalo Bills at third overall.
Gabbert could even entice the Panthers to selecting him number one overall with a strong showing at the NFL scouting combine.
8. Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
At 6'9'' and weighing 315 pounds, Solder has the type of body necessary to become an NFL starting offensive tackle.
He also is extremely athletic for a player his size because he spent several seasons playing tight end in Boulder. Some scouts call into question Solder's technique and run blocking ability.
However, if Solder can use the combine to show off his impressive size and strength, then he should solidify himself as the top offensive tackle option available in this year's draft class.
7. Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
At 6'6'', Mallet is the ideal size for an NFL quarterback. He also has a huge arm that can make any throw on the field.
However, many scouts question his decision making process and his ability to read defenses. This was evident by his late game interception against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
Obviously this could be a major problem with the complex defensive packages seen at the NFL level.
Currently scouts have Mallet as a late first-round pick at best. However, if he can prove that he is capable of breaking down a defense, Mallet could entice some earlier teams, like the Minnesota Vikings.
6. Jack Locker, QB, Washington
Obviously, Jake Locker's draft stock has been constantly descending since he decided to return to Washington for his senior season.
Last year Locker would have had an opportunity to prove he should be the first overall selection. However, this season he is simply trying to prove he is worthy of a first-round pick.
Locker was not able to elevate Washington to national prominence during his senior season, but that is in large part due to the lack of talent that surrounded him.
If Locker can prove that he has the mindset that will allow him to use his physical gifts to become a winning NFL quarterback, he could catapult up draft boards.
5. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Some scouts view Rudolph as a definite first-round pick in the coming draft. However, he also is surrounded by as many question marks as any in this draft.
Rudolph showed off his ability as a redzone threat by catching three touchdown passes in just six games this past season with the Irish.
However, he was then lost for the season due to a knee injury. Nonetheless, Rudolph decided he would skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Teams will definitely want to see where Rudolph's speed and quickness is at following knee surgery. However, more importantly his stock could rise significantly if he gets medical clearance from the NFL medical staffs.
4. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Smith is the prototypical player that can impress scouts with an excellent workout at the combine.
He is somewhat undersized, and was listed at just 290 pounds during his senior season for the Trojans. However, Smith is also an athletic freak for a player of his size and is seen as a potential dominant pass blocker.
If Smith can showcase his athleticism he could create a serious buzz at the combine. He also could improve his stock by showing that he was able to bulk up and get stronger since the end of his days at USC.
Smith's showing at the combine could solidify him as a top 15 pick, and he could even challenge Nate Solder as the top offensive lineman available.
3. Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Quinn entered this season as the premier pass rusher in all of college football.
However he never got to make an impact on the field because he was suspended by the NCAA for academic violations. Quinn has not played in a game in over a year, so will need to wow scouts at the combine.
Most still believe Quinn will be a first-round pick, and he helped his case with a solid week of work at the Senior Bowl. Teams will use the combine to see how Quinn has improved his game without gaining any on-field experience.
Many teams may also question his maturity after being suspended by the NCAA, and if Quinn can convince them it is in the past he could see himself going even higher than expected in round one.
2. Titus Young, WR, Boise State
Titus Young is quickly drawing the attention of NFL organizations thanks in large part to his athleticism. Young has always shown solid hands and the ability to return kicks at Boise State.
However, his athletic ability was on display at the Senior Bowl. Young's 40-yard dash time is not elite, but his speed on the field is evident in every game he plays.
If Young can improve on his 40-yard dash times and show off his athleticism at the combine, he could see his stock make huge progressions.
Currently A.J. Green is the clear cut top wide receiver followed by Julio Jones. If Young has an impressive showing at the scouting combine then he could become the third receiver option for any team in need of a pass catcher in Round 1.
1. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Cam Newton may be the most controversial player in this year's draft class.
Most scouts view him as a big time player and a potential franchise quarterback. However, there are still many who show skepticism when discussing Newton at the NFL level.
Newton will be out to prove the doubters wrong at the combine. He has already had a productive Pro Day so his stock is currently on the rise.
At 6'6'' and weighing 250 pounds, scouts look forward to seeing just how strong and fast Newton is during his bench press and dash times.
Many believe Newton is a solid fit for the Washington Redskins picking at the No. 10 spot. However recently there has also been talks that the Bills view Newton as the potential answer at quarterback, and could select him third overall.
The top of this draft is far from set in stone so if Newton impresses at the combine he could definitely make himself appealing to the Bills. If things go perfectly its not inconceivable to think Newton could rise all the way to the quarterback needy Carolina Panthers with the No. 1 selection.