NFL Draft 2011: 10 Players To Watch at the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is less than one week away.
This is where NFL Draft prospects show off their intangibles (speed, strength, hands, etc.)
Every year players we normally have not heard about make their way up the prospect ranks with good performances at the Combine.
Players like Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles shot their draft stock up tremendously with good post season games and good Combine workouts.
Here are a list of 10 prospects to watch as we head into the Scouting Combine.
10. Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson DE
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Da'Quan Bowers is almost certain to go either at the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in this year's draft. Where he will end up will depend on his Combine performance.
He is going to have to have a great performance in order to jump over Nick Fairley as the top prospect on most boards.
Bowers only knock on him seems to be that he takes plays off. Some plays it just seemed like he was not even on the field.
Bowers has to prove in the Combine he can put forth a good effort in every drill. It may cost him some cash if he does not.
Bowers is also coming off surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus. He might not participate in every drill which could hurt his prospects at being the No. 1 pick.
9. Cameron Jordan, Cal DE
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After a very strong Senior Bowl, Cal DE Cameron Jordan seems to be climbing up draft boards by the minute.
Scouts, Inc. right now has Jordan as the 18th ranked prospect in the draft. If he continues to progress and shows off his ability to shed blocks in the combine, Jordan may creep into the top 10.
San Fransisco and Washington could be landing spots for him.
8. Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova OG
For being 6'4" and 320 pounds, Ijalana is a very athletic offensive lineman. His size projects him to move inside to a guard position in the NFL.
At the combine, look for the bench press and the 40 yard dash to be breaking points for Ijalana. He may be one of the strongest offensive linemen in this draft. He has very quick feet and has the ability to get to the second level very quickly.
A good Combine performance could propel Ijalana into the 20th to 25th pick range in the first round.
7. Jake Locker, Washington QB
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Will the real Jake Locker please stand up?
Locker may be one of the biggest risks in this year's draft. Locker had an up and down senior season after having a great junior year.
Locker's Senior Bowl performance did not help his draft stock at all. However, he made up for it by having a decent day in the ESPN Skills Challenge.
Locker has all the intangibles to be an elite NFL QB. The knock on him is his consistency. At times, Locker is very inaccurate.
The Combine will either showcase his talents, or expose his flaws. Either way, his stock will rise or fall with the Combine.
6. Greg Jones, Michigan State LB
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I have seen mock drafts where Greg Jones goes as high as the late first round and as low as the third or fourth rounds.
Jones, at only 6'1" does not posses the prototypical linebacker size in the NFL.
Teams are worried that he will be pushed around too easily. With how small he is, Jones does not have the strength to man up with an NFL offensive lineman.
He does have the speed and athletic ability to make up for his size. Scouts will be looking at his bench press results at the Combine.
5. Andy Dalton, TCU QB
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Dalton lacks the intangibles that most QBs have in this draft, but he makes up for it with his brains and his consistency.
Dalton would be a small QB in the NFL at only 6'2" and 213 pounds.
Dalton made huge strides over the course of last season. He was labeled as a late round prospect at the beginning of the year.
He showed off his highly accurate arm in last week's skills challenge and possesses an ability to escape the pocket.
Dalton's combine performance will separate him from a Day 2 or a Day 3 NFL prospect.
4. Jon Baldwin, Pitt WR
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If you are looking for this year's potential sleeper pick, look no further than Jon Baldwin out of Pittsburgh.
Baldwin is a huge WR, standing at 6'5" and 230 pounds. He had a breakout season last year at Pitt and enters the draft early as a Junior.
Mock drafts have Baldwin going in the middle of the second round. If he is able to show off some speed and route running abilities, Baldwin could leap into the first round.
He has all the intangibles to become another Megatron.
3. Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin OT
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Carimi is another player is who just physically fit to play in the NFL. Carimi possesses the perfect size to play OT at the next level.
Carimi will battle Ijalana for the strongest OL in this year's draft at the Combine.
Carimi's fundamentals will be tested at the Combine. If he can change his blocking form, he could raise his stock into the mid-teens.
2. Jimmy Smith, Colorado CB
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I have seen a lot of posts from fans salivating over Jimmy Smith's raw ability.
Right now Smith is projected to be a late first rounder to a late second rounder.
Smith has the size and the cover skills to be an elite shut down corner in the NFL.
I compare Smith to an Asante Samuel type of corner. He gambles a lot and has the chance to make big plays. One thing he is better than Samuel at though is tackling. Smith plays the run as well as any other corner in the draft.
1. Cam Newton, Auburn QB
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My number one prospect to watch going into the Combine is Cam Newton.
Newton has been thrown all over draft boards, from the top pick to the third round.
He has the potential to be a great QB in the NFL. He has the size and the arm strength to make the NFL throws.
Newton is also athletic enough to leave the pocket and scramble for a first down. The question is will his style of play work at the next level?
The Combine will help us judge that.