NFL Draft 2011: The Prospects That Will Increase Their Stock at the Combine
Before the combine, analysts have only game tape and physical stats to go by when ranking prospects for the NFL Draft.
The NFL Combine is where prospects either increase or decrease their chances of being drafted on draft day.
We have seen prospects jump from the teens to the top five in some cases. We have seen players drop multiple rounds in others.
So who will these players be this year?
Here is a list of the top players from each position that will improve their draft stock at the combine.
QB: Patrick Devlin
Pat Devlin is a QB that most people are forgetting about.
When you think of this year's QB class, you think of Newton, Gabbert, Locker and Mallett.
However, there are some smaller school QBs that might surpass some of these players in the NFL.
The one I see making an impact at the combine is Devlin.
Devlin transferred from Penn State to Delaware in order to be a starter. He was a top recruit out of Downington, PA.
He has a good arm and good accuracy, but he is a little bit small at 6'3". Also, playing for a small school does not help him.
At the combine, though, everyone will be on the same playing field and Devlin should be able to separate himself.
He may go as high as the second round.
RB: Derrick Locke
Derrick Locke is a playmaking type of RB.
He averaged 5.3 ypc last season at Kentucky.
He compiled over 2200 yards and 22 TDs in his four years there.
He has tremendous speed and may be one of the fastest RBs in this year's draft.
He also has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
WR: Jonathan Baldwin
Baldwin has the physical size to be a dominant WR in the NFL. If he is able to hone all his skills, he has the ability to compare with Calvin Johnson.
Baldwin is a 6'5" WR that runs a 4.50 40.
He doesn't possess speed to stretch the field, but he should be a great possession receiver at the next level.
He is a QB's dream go-to guy in the red zone.
It is his 40-yard dash time that will make him a first- or second-round pick.
TE: Kyle Rudolph
The TE class this year is not that great. It is somewhat deep, but it has no top end talent for the most part.
The class is headed by Kyle Rudolph and Luke Stocker.
Rudolph was having a great junior year until a hamstring injury cut his final season short.
He is one of Notre Dame's all-time great TEs and should be the first TE off the board in the draft.
His combine performance will decide how far up the first TE is taken.
OL: Bejamin Ijalana
Ijalana is another small school prospect that should increase his stock at the combine.
Although he did not face top-tier talent at Villanova, Ijalana possesses the raw skills and size to become a starter in the NFL.
At 6'4", he is most likely suited to play OG at the next level.
His strength and quickness is what will make him rise up draft boards and become the first OG taken.
DL: Da'Quan Bowers
Da'Quan Bowers is hands down the best DE in the draft. Then why is he on this list, you ask?
Bowers has been mock drafted as the second overall pick more times than not from what I have read.
With a good combine performance showing off his speed and strength, he may be able to solidify himself as the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Teams may be worried about Nick Fairley's work ethic and attitude. Bowers is a beast, and Carolina could definitely use him after losing Julius Peppers last season.
The reason he is on this list is because of the difference in money he would get as the No. 1 pick rather than No. 2.
LB: Greg Jones
Greg Jones is one of few ILBs that will contend for a Day 1 or 2 selection in this year's draft.
Because of his size (6'0"), he is probably a OLB in the NFL though.
Jones is another raw talent who possesses great speed and ball-hawking skills.
The only question mark with Jones will be about his size. Can he handle the bigger offensive linemen at the next level?
The combine should help teams figure that out.
CB: Jimmy Smith
I have seen Jimmy Smith being projected to go anywhere from the top 15 to the second round.
Smith is a big CB with good speed. He has the ability to become a great shut down corner in the NFL.
Playing for Colorado certainly did not help publicize him on the national level.
He will have to showcase his playing speed and his closing speed at the combine in order to rise up draft boards.
S: Jeron Johnson
The only top safety in this year's draft is Rahim Moore out of UCLA. After he is off the board, who knows when the next safety will be selected.
Jeron Johnson is someone who could rise up draft boards. A projected middle- to late-round pick, Johnson could show off his strength and tackling skills to push him up into the third round.
Johnson is a very smart football player and knows when to jump a route and when not to.
He also helps out in the run game as he compiled over 170 tackles the past two seasons.
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