NFL Draft 2011: Cam Newton and 10 Players with Most Left To Prove
With the NFL combine over, prospects are now on the home stretch before the NFL draft. Most players have been tested, physically and mentally, in ways they never even imagined.
Some players have shown their abilities with blazing 40-yard dash times and jaw-dropping repetitions on the bench press.
However, there are many others who still have a lot left to gain if they want to shoot up draft boards. Some will choose to participate in their own pro days to try and showcase their talents as much as possible for NFL scouts.
Here are the 10 players with the most left to prove before the much anticipated NFL draft.
10. Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College Eagles
Just two years ago, Herzlich was seen as a first round pick and a potential anchor at linebacker for any NFL team.
However, after a battle with cancer and an unlikely return for his senior season at Boston College, he has seen his draft stock plummet.
Herzlich did fairly well at the NFL combine, but will need to improve at the Eagles Pro Day if he wants to go higher than his current fifth-round projection.
9. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona Wildcats
Reed's draft stock has been on a constant rise, and the combine only furthered it. Reed impressed in all drills and now is seen as a potential steal in the second round.
If he can go through drills in similar fashion at the Arizona Pro Day, then he could gain even more buzz before the draft.
Although it is unlikely, don't be surprised if Reed is a surprise pick towards the end of round one.
8. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Amukamara surprised many with his athletic ability at the combine this past week. This created some buzz that he could unseat Patrick Peterson as the top cornerback off the board.
Amukamara will have to use the Nebraska Pro Day to prove his 40-yard dash time was no fluke.
If he can showcase the same physical ability, then there could be a serious battle between him and Peterson. Either way, Amukamara could jump into the top 10.
7. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide
There will be very little that Jones can do between now and the NFL draft after he undergoes surgery on his fractured foot.
Jones performed quite well considering the circumstances, and has vaulted himself into the top half of the first round. He appears to be a perfect for St. Louis Rams picking at 14th overall.
Teams will first want to see how things pan out with Jones' surgery, and if all goes well, he could gain even more momentum heading into April's draft.
6. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide
Ingram is currently projected to go in the second half of the first round. In fact many scouts seem to assume he will be selected by the Miami Dolphins to replace Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
However, if Ingram can prove his knee injury from this past season is behind him, and if he has a good output during the Alabama Pro Day, then he could jump up the draft.
In recent years teams have been shying away from drafting a running back too early, but few have been as NFL ready as the former Heisman Trophy winner.
5. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas Razorbacks
The concerns with Mallett are not in any way connected to his ability to throw the football. In fact he actually impressed many scouts with his throwing at the combine.
The issue will be how Mallett handles the media amid rumors that he has had a problem with drugs.
Mallett already has cut an interview session short because reporters repeatedly asked him about the allegations.
He will need to prove that he can withstand the media's barrage for teams to give him a serious look in round one.
4. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin Badgers
Watt showcased his freakish physical ability at the NFL combine by finishing in the top five in every athletic competition.
Originally, Watt was projected as a late first round pick, but has since risen up draft boards.
If Watt can produce similar athletic outputs at the Wisconsin Pro Day, then he could see himself vault into the top 10.
3. Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bowers still has the distinct possibility to be the number one overall pick in the draft. In fact he fits an exact need for the Carolina Panthers.
He also has shown his tremendous pass rushing ability during this past season at Clemson.
Questions have arisen about Bowers' knee injury, because it has not healed exactly as he had planned. If Bowers can get a clean bill of health, then he could rise to the top of every team's draft board.
2. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Tigers
Gabbert has an excellent opportunity to be the first quarterback taken off the board. In fact he still has a glimmer of hope that he could be the first overall selection.
However, Gabbert has yet to throw for NFL scouts, so he is putting a lot of eggs into one basket during the Missouri Pro Day.
With underwhelming statistics for a college quarterback last season, Gabbert will have to show off his excellent arm to be considered a top pick.
1. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers
Everybody saw the type of athlete that Cam Newton was during his stellar season at the University of Auburn. However, some questioned his mechanics and accuracy throwing the football.
Newton appeared to have put those questions to rest with an excellent private workout that led to rumors he could be selected as high as third overall. Soon after, Newton faltered at the NFL combine.
If the Heisman Trophy winner wants to be the first quarterback off the board, then he must have an excellent day throwing during Auburn's Pro Day on March 8.
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