NFL Combine 2011: 15 Combine Prospects Who Might Not Get Drafted
In just two days, the very best players in college football will make one of the their most pivotal stops on the road to the pros: the NFL Combine.
The 2011 event will be held from Feb. 23-March 1 and will feature 329 invitees, including a whopping 57 defensive linemen, 56 defensive backs and 55 offensive linemen.
The goal? Impress scouts enough to move up in the 2011 NFL Draft.
But even though some will do that, there will be plenty of players who participate in the combine but might not hear their names called on draft day.
So who's facing the possibility of going undrafted? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Let's take a look at 15 big names who might start off their careers as rookie free agents.
15. Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M
Jerrod Johnson has a cannon of an arm and could pass for Cam Newton's body double, but he's never been much of a quarterback.
He forces the ball when he shouldn't, he makes errant throws, and he has no idea what consistency is. That's why he was replaced as Texas A&M's starter by Ryan Tannehill mid-season in 2010.
Though Johnson struggled at the quarterback position, however, his physical tools and incredible size (6'5", 250 pounds) are certainly there.
14. T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina
While T.J. Yates certainly had his successes at North Carolina, he was a guy whom college football fans and analysts expected to explode at some point.
But we waited...and waited...and waited, until eventually his college career was over. And now we're not sure where he'll be come draft day.
Though Yates has the look of a prototypical NFL quarterback, that just hasn't translated to a ton of eye-popping stats or highlights, which in turn might translate to him struggling to find a spot in the league.
13. Any Kicker or Punter
Let's be honest: Unless you're Sebastian Janikowski, you're probably not going to hear your name called before the fifth or sixth round no matter how good of a kicker/punter you are.
And that theme will ring true again this year.
Though there are several quality prospects at those two positions—like Kai Forbath, Chas Henry and Alex Henery—plenty of these guysl totally bomb at the combine or wind up just being signed as free agents.
This year won't be any different.
12. Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU
When Terrence Toliver signed with LSU, the Tigers thought they hit the jackpot with the signing of one of the nation's top—if not the top—wide receiver prospects.
But poor quarterback play and playing on a team with plenty of other talented receivers led Toliver to a remarkably quiet college career. And now his draft stock could suffer as a result.
He's still listed as the No. 14 receiver prospect in the entire draft, though, so maybe he's a mid-rounder after all.
11. Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
As a Delaware product, Pat Devlin will continue to draw comparison to former Blue Hen and current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (though that comparison may not be too fair).
However, Devlin's not nearly the prospect Flacco was, and he's anywhere between the No. 8 and No. 11 quarterback in the 2011 draft class.
Though Devlin has the prototypical size and arm strength you look for in a quarterback, the level of competition at Delaware is an issue, as is his extreme lack of mobility inside the pocket.
He struggles with making any kind of plays with his feet, so that's something scouts will definitely pay attention to at the combine.
10. Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
A first-round caliber prospect at the beginning of the 2010 season, Greg Romeus has fallen victim to the dreaded injury bug.
He only appeared (briefly) in two games during his senior campaign after suffering a knee injury, and his draft stock is highly questionable as a result.
No one knows how Romeus will respond when he returns from the injury and whether or not it's one that will continue to nag him throughout his career.
Perhaps a decent showing at the combine can calm some fears, though.
9. Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech
Although Anthony Allen measures in at an impressive 6'0" and 223 pounds, there's not much else about him that really jumps out at scouts.
He's not overly fast, instinctive or elusive, and he's more of a one-trick pony as a guy who will thrive as a power back and between-the-tackles runner.
Allen's limitations as an every down back could be cause for concern, as indicated by his No. 18 ranking among running back prospects according to ESPN.
8. Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn
A huge offensive tackle who was the best lineman on a national championship-winning Auburn team, Lee Ziemba would seemingly be a first-round prospect.
But that just isn't the case. He really struggles with his footwork, he isn't great at any particular thing, and he had a rough go-round at this year's Senior Bowl.
Though Ziemba certainly has a huge upside, he's also a big risk.
7. Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
Much like Anthony Allen, Roy Helu hasn't proven to be exceptionally great at anything.
Though he did have his shining moments at Nebraska, Helu hasn't wowed scouts because he lacks elite agility, athleticism and power while also failing to contribute much in the passing game.
Helu has also suffered a number of injuries, albeit mostly minor ones, that have caused him to miss some playing time over the last three seasons, which is never a good sign for a prospect's draft stock.
He likely has to have a big combine performance to stay in that mid to late-round range.
6. Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
A stud while at Boise State, Austin Pettis is now the stepchild of the Broncos wide receivers.
While former teammate Titus Young is expected go early in Round 2 (or is even a fringe first-rounder), Pettis has fallen down to No. 23 on ESPN's wide receiver rankings.
Scouts aren't crazy about his speed, or lack thereof, or his ability to make big plays in the passing game, so he could fall down draft boards considerably if he has a lackluster combine showing.
5. John Clay, RB, Wisconsin
John Clay is further proof that success at the college level doesn't necessarily predict a bright NFL future.
The 6'1", 248-pounder obviously has size going his way, but it's that stature that really limits him in other areas of the game. He's so big that he's more like a fullback who played tailback in college.
Clay (the No. 20 overall running back according to ESPN) needs to lose weight, add some more agility or athleticism—or both. If he doesn't do at least one of those two things, all 32 teams may take a pass on him come draft day.
4. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
Jeff Maehl played a pivotal role in Oregon's magical run to the BCS title game in 2010, but it appears the former Ducks wide receiver will be one of those guys who is just a good college football player and nothing else.
Maehl's is undersized (6'0", 181 pounds), too slow given that lack of size and not exceptionally athletic or agile.
Though he could be one of those gutty, scrappy receivers who plays above what his physical tools would indicate, he also could go in the complete opposite direction.
I guess we'll find out eventually, huh?
3. Marvin Austin, DT, UNC
A potential first round pick before the season started, Marvin Austin got into some hot water with the NCAA and didn't play a snap in 2010.
And now he's gone from a top two or three defensive tackle prospect to the No. 10 overall defensive tackle according to ESPN.
Austin does have a ton of talent, but his character issues and the fact that hasn't played football since 2009 could make teams shy away from him.
Unless he's a beast at the combine, of course.
2. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
Is Tyrod Taylor a quarterback? Is he a wide receiver? Is he a Wildcat quarterback? No one really knows.
He'll say that he wants to play quarterback, but not many shorter, mobile college QBs have played that position at the NFL level. They generally tend to make the switch to receiver or the return game.
Though Taylor could still get his shot at QB, he's going to have perhaps eight or ten (or more) quarterbacks with a higher draft grade.
So the question is, which team will be willing to take a shot on a guy who may not even have a spot in the NFL?
1. Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
One thing you can't deny about Greg McElroy is that he just flat out wins football games.
Too bad that's just about all he does.
Playing on such a talented team at Alabama really hid his inadequacies as a quarterback: his low release, his lack of arm strength, his immobility.
Like John Parker Wilson in the past, I wouldn't expect to hear a ton about McElroy at the NFL level.