2011 NFL Draft: 10 Players With Most To Gain At Combine
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A good showing at the combine can really improve your draft stock.
Who can forget the case of Darius Heyward-Bey? A possible first round choice, Bey vaulted up team's and analysts draft boards after running a 4.3 forty yard dash at the combine.
The Raiders eventually took him seventh overall, ahead of Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, the universal top ranked WR.
As this story illustrates, a good combine can really help your draft status.
Here are ten players who need good showings at the the combine to further establish their draft day prospects.
1. UNC DE Robert Quinn
Quinn missed all this season due to suspension, but because of his talent and athleticism he is still considered an early first round pick.
However, he must prove that he is still in football shape after all that time away from the field. If he shows up at the combine out of shape, his draft stock could plummet.
But scouts raved at how quickly he readjusted to the game at the Senior Bowl. A good combine showing can further impress scouts.
Because of his suspension, there are some character issues with Quinn. His interviews with NFL teams must go smoothly as well.
If Quinn does all these things, expect his name to be called early on draft day.
2. Pitt WR Jon Baldwin
Baldwin is one player who analysts talk about having a high ceiling. He is big and athletic, the type of receiver who can go get the ball in traffic.
But character issues are a concern with Baldwin as well. He has been accused of not always giving 100 percent, so he must be composed and professional during his interviews.
A good forty time would also really help Baldwin. He already has the size and jumping ability of a possession receiver.
If he can prove he has NFL speed (by running a forty time around 4.4), Baldwin will be a first round pick.
3. Auburn QB Cam Newton
Newton has been rising rapidly the last month on ESPN Draft Guru Mel Kiper's Big Board, and it's easy to see why.
At 6'6 250 pounds, Newton is built more like a TE than a QB. A good showing at Auburn's Pro Day and the combine could vault Newton into a top ten pick.
All the physical tools are there for Newton. He just has to prove to scouts he is accurate and has enough pocket presence to be a starting NFL QB.
The option offense Newton ran at Auburn is not a viable option in the NFL, and he also show he is intelligent to master a pro style offense.
4. Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
A year ago this time, Clayborn was a projected top ten pick. A poor showing his senior season has caused his draft stock to fall.
His sack total fell from 11.5 to 3.5 this season. Two years ago, he had twenty TFL- this season that number fell to seven.
For whatever reason, Clayborn was not the same player this season as he was last. However, a good showing at the combine can erase many of these concerns.
Clayborn has good size for a DE, but could stand to add some weight. If his lifting reps are high enough, he could work his way back into the middle first round.
5. OSU DE Cameron Heyward
Heyward was in a similar position to Clayborn last season, and again a poor season hurt his draft stock.
Heyward must prove to scouts he has the speed and quickness to shed blockers and generate a pass rush. His season high for sacks is only 6.5, and his lack of a pass-rush move worries scouts.
Heyward is very good against the run, but he is not overly athletic, so he must do well in the DL lineman drills at the combine.
If he shows flashes of explosiveness, a number of teams could take him at the end of the first round.
6. Wisconsin OL Gabe Carimi
Carimi has all the intangibles you look for in a player- he was a four year starter on the OL, and he has the tall body typical of NFL LT's.
At 6'7 327 pounds, Carimi's size is not an issue. But, as with all players that size, he must prove he has quick enough feet to stop faster DL from running around him.
In a lackluster OL class, a good combine showing could lift Carimi to the top of the class.
7. Washington QB Jake Locker
Similar to Newton (but not nearly as athletic), Locker is one of the new wave of mobile, running QB's.
He would have been the number one overall pick last draft had he declared, but after another season of inconsistency, Locker has fallen out of favor with many NFL teams.
As a four year starter, Locker's accuracy should be much greater than what it is. It's also very frustrating how he can go from a great game to an unimpressive one as if it's natural.
These are issues one doesn't generally attribute to a potential first round QB.
But this is a weak QB class, and some team will take a chance on Locker based solely on his physical tools.
A good showing at the combine may be the difference between a first or second round selection.
8. Cal RB Shane Vereen
Vereen went mostly under the radar this season, but quietly put together very good numbers. He rushed for over 1100 yards and 13 touchdowns, but his efforts went largely unnoticed playing on a Bears team that was not bowl eligible.
But Vereen is expected to be a middle round draft pick. His speed and quickness are above average, although he is undersized at 5'10.
He is a one-cut back who picks up good chunks of yards every time he touches the ball rather than always going for the home run.
If he shows improved athleticism at the combine, he could go as high as a second round pick.
9. Hawaii WR Greg Salas
Salas put up huge numbers in his collegiate career- he broke school records with 119 receptions and over 1800 receiving yards this past season.
That's impressive, given the number of quality receivers who attended Hawaii.
But his stats should come with an asterisk, as Hawaii's pass first offense does not translate to the NFL.
Salas is a quick, sure-handed receiver who would work well out of the slot in the NFL, but he is rather unathletic.
His forty time is somewhere in the 4.5's, a number he will have to improve on at the combine.
If he does have a good showing, he could be a third or fourth round pick.
10. Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph is the universal number one TE, but a strong combine performance could propel him into a late first round selection.
He must show he is in football shape after missing Notre Dame's final six games with a season ending hamstring injury.
He already has the size and speed NFL scouts are looking for. If he can show he is fully recovered from injury, he can erase any question marks about his health.
An early second round pick seems likely for Rudolph.