Torrey Smith, a wide receiver out of the University of Maryland, will go into the Combine as one of the most-hyped receivers in the 2011 NFL Draft.
In the past five years, at least two Terrapins have made significant waves at the Combine and parlayed it into contracts with their respective teams.
Darrius Heyward-Bey entered the 2009 draft after a good (but not great) 2008 season at Maryland. Every time he stepped onto the field, the opposing team knew he was the most talented player on Maryland's offense, yet it didn't translate into consistent dominance. Heyward-Bey had an exceptional combine, however, showing NFL teams his unique athleticism with impressive feats, including a 4.3 40-yard dash. Oakland picked him seventh overall.
Bruce Campbell entered the 2010 draft for the Terps, and although he slid to the fourth round (interesting also to the Raiders), Mel Kiper Jr., had him as one of his best players available from Round Two on. Campbell might have had a more remarkable combine than Heyward-Bey's just one season before.
Campbell ran a 4.85 40-yard dash (fastest among offensive linemen). He also bench pressed 225 pounds 34 times. Truly outrageous numbers.
Neither Campbell nor Heyward-Bey have yet starred in the NFL, showing numbers can be deceptive. Smith will be different.
Torrey Smith was the most successful college player out of the group. Smith was one of the top wide receivers in the country last year and had a record-setting performance with 14 receptions for 224 yards and four touchdowns against NC State. Smith benefited from ACC Freshman of the Year QB Danny O'Brien, but there is little doubt Smith will hear his name called early in the draft.
The way Maryland's training staff prepares prospects for the Combine has been remarkable and Smith should benefit from the knowledge from those who came before him. Expect Smith to see his stock rise even further after the combine and be among the top times in the 40-yard dash.
It will be his college numbers and game performances, however, that will warrant a high pick.
Smith is the best all-around skill player to come out of Maryland in years, and a good combine can't hurt him, but teams might hesitate to pick a player with such a similar profile to Heyward-Bey. Oakland is without a first round pick to bail Smith out should he fall.
Smith will impress at the Combine and go high in the draft. These two facts will be unrelated. The Combine is an NFL tradition, and there is no reason to get rid of it, but teams are learning not to put too much stock in its results.