NFL Draft 2011: Top Stories of the NFL Combine Thus Far

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIIFebruary 28, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Top Stories of the NFL Combine Thus Far

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    As many football fans know, the NFL combine is a make or break opportunity for many future NFL players. Each player is obsessed over, physique and talents under constant scrutiny.

    While training to make their bodies make an impression, a player also needs to be conscious of his speed, agility and power. One gaudy number in the 40-yard dash or a botched attempt on the bench can be a death sentence for the young standouts.

    So far this year, the offense has been put to the test. The defense is set to take the field today and tomorrow, having already done the strength training.

    Who has made the biggest news at the Combine so far?

    Let's review.

Mark Ingram's Slow 40-Yard Dash

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Mark Ingram has to be happy with the beauty of the running back position.

    Finishing at 4.63, he recorded arguably the most disappointing time in the 40-yard dash at the whole combine.

    Ingram is still regarded as one of the—if the not the—best at the position. Looking at pictures of Ingram will tell the story. He's not going to enter the NFL with a game like Chris Johnson. Rather, he'll take an approach that more resembles Peyton Hillis.

    Ingram will try to run through defenders, not around them. Luckily, NFL scouts don't look to heavily into a running back's time in the 40.

    Ingram is still the top RB available in this year's draft.

Nate Solder Wows Scouts

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    Colorado's Nate Solder was all about the numbers at the Combine. With each test, Solder further solidified his draft status.

    In the 40-yard dash, Solder topped offensive tackles by running a 5.05. However, Solder is a converted tight end so this was expected.

    He also impressed in the vertical and broad jumps, finishing tied for third among all offensive linemen in both events. He's also listed at over 6'8" tall.

    Solder is still learning the position, making him a very hot commodity in the upcoming draft.

Is Nick Fairley Too Small?

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    Nick Fairley was a huge part of the Auburn Tigers' run to the 2011 National Championship. In the final game, Fairley was a force. He helped the Tigers earn recognition as the best team in college football.

    However, when Fairley showed up to the NFL Combine, he didn't quite measure up. Fairley is listed as 6'5" and at least 300 pounds. When he was measured at the Combine, he was 6'3" and 291 pounds.

    To the average person, these are small differences. To NFL scouts, those nine pounds make a huge difference. It's a rarity for a defensive tackle in the NFL to weigh less than 300 pounds.

    Even when taking into account the fact that Fairley may have been slimming down to record faster times, teams still worried.

    With Fairley rated as the top DT in his class, these small discrepancies in size can make a huge difference.

Stephen Paea Proves to Be Powerful

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Stephen Paea never had trouble pumping iron back at Oregon State. When he arrived in Indianapolis, Paea used his muscle to make a name for himself.

    Paea benched the standard 225 pounds 49 times at the NFL Combine, shattering the previous record by 5 reps. A great way for defensive lineman to make a name for themselves is with upper body strength and Paea did just that.

    If NFL scouts pass on him in the NFL Draft, they may Paea on game day.

Julio Jones Shows Promise

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Yet another SEC player made headlines at the NFL Combine. Mark Ingram may be the talk of Alabama in Indianapolis, but Julio Jones gave people more to discuss.

    Jones was arguably the most impressive player at the NFL Combine. Jones flew to a 4.39 40-yard dash. He was also able to broad jump 11'3", a ridiculous length for anyone.

    At Alabama, Jones had an impressive junior year. He brought down 78 passes—seven for touchdowns—and finished with 1,113 yards.

    If teams are searching far and wide for receivers, it'll be hard to overlook Jones.

Cam Newton as Advertised

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When the upcoming NFL draft is discussed, no one's name is tossed around as much as Cam Newton's.

    The Auburn quarterback has well-proven athleticism for the position, but his passing technique and accuracy are in question. Newton surprised many by attending the Combine and looking to diminish doubts about his arm.

    Astonishingly, Newton had a 40-time inferior to that of three other quarterbacks registered for the draft. However, he displayed above average athleticism in the jumping drills.

    When it came to the throwing portion of the day, Newton was unimpressive. He was errant on a couple of routes and failed to squander and doubt of his ability to thread the needle in the NFL.

    Some believe that Newton's stock dropped and some said it stayed the same.

    No one is arguing that he did anything to improve his draft status.