2011 NFL Draft: 10 Players the NFL Scouting Combine Helped Significantly

Zachary CohenContributor IIIMarch 4, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: 10 Players the NFL Scouting Combine Helped Significantly

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    The NFL draft is right around the corner, and it's still a very uncertain field as of right now. Unlike past years, it seems as though there is no clear-cut No. 1 pick, and first round mock drafts seem like a mess, changing every week.

    With the NFL scouting combine just finishing, here's a look at 10 players who may have moved themselves up draft boards going into this year's NFL draft.

Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)

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    Julio Jones is an athletic freak. Most of you probably already know that. After running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash on a broken foot, freak doesn't even do him justice.

    Jones is almost definitely going to see himself picked in the first round after his performance at the combine, even with the broken foot. He was projected to be a late first-rounder or early second-rounder going into his incredible performance.

Jake Locker (QB, Washington)

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    Locker was a huge question mark going into the NFL combine. He's an NFL QB in terms of size, talent and skill, but his decision making is beyond questionable.

    The past week, Locker has gotten himself back into first-round talks. He did so by passing the ball very accurately and running just as well as most of the other quarterbacks, including posting the same 40-yard dash time as Cam Newton.

    With Locker throwing the ball accurately to go along with his already great physical tools, he may have distanced himself from the other middle of the pack QBs.

Ras-I Dowling (CB, Virginia)

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    Before the combine, scouts were saying that Ras-I Dowling was too slow to cover NFL wide receivers and that he would have to move to safety if he wanted to play professionally. 

    How did Ras-I respond? He ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash to prove that he is in fact quick. Dowling is 6'2" with hands like a wide receiver, and now that he has shown he can run, he could go late in the first round or early in the second.

Marvin Austin (DT, North Carolina)

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    If you don't remember Marvin Austin from last season, it's because he was suspended and did not play. Prior to his suspension, however, scouts saw Austin as a top 15 pick. Austin showed them why they thought so highly of him last year and why they still should now.

    After being out of football for a year, Austin showed up to the combine in shape and was able to put up 38 reps to show just how strong he really is.

    Austin is probably a second-round pick, but if a team is willing to take a chance on a guy with character issues, Austin could get picked in the first round.

Greg McElroy (QB, Alabama)

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    McElroy may not have blown scouts away in his physical tests, but he did prove to be the anti-Vince Young, which could be enough for a team to draft him alone. 

    McElroy, who was probably going to be picked in the last round, scored a 48 out of 50 on his Wonderlic test. His knowledge and thinking ability to go along with his accuracy and ability to manage games could move him up into Round 4 or 5.

Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State)

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    No QB improved his draft stock this week more than Christian Ponder. Ponder emerged as an ideal QB for a West Coast offense, and it wouldn't surprise anybody at this point if he moved into the first round.

    Ponder showed incredible accuracy to go along with strength in his arm that many didn't think he had. The QB out of FSU might have passed almost every quarterback in the draft besides Blaine Gabbert, and he certainly earned it.

Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)

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    Kerrigan is a guy I liked a lot even before the combine. I thought of him as the third best defensive end in the draft, and the combine proved that he may be the second best.

    Kerrigan had a good all-around performance, posting 31 reps and running a 4.71-second 40-yard dash, which for a guy his size is impressive.

    J.J Watt is the best defensive end in the draft, but Kerrigan proved to be a close second.

Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M)

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    Miller is seen as a top 10 pick and maybe a top five pick in the upcoming draft by most, but he may have locked himself into the top three with his incredible combine performance.

    Miller was in the top three in every drill at the combine except for one. He's an athletic specimen who plays hard and is apparently willing to learn.

    An athlete like Von who is as coachable as he is doesn't come around often, and he should be happy with the paycheck he earns over the summer.

Da'Rel Scott (RB, Maryland)

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    Scott is a guy I really was unaware of before the draft, but one thing is for sure: I know him now.

    Scott had one of the day's fastest 40-yard dash times at an incredible 4.34 seconds. He also showed great ability in the balance and agility drills.

    A guy as fast as Scott with his footwork makes me think that he has a chance of being a Chris Johnson-type player in the league—maybe not as good, but a threat every time he touches the football. Scott is likely to go late in the second round or early in the third, but in my opinion he's easily a first-round talent.

Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)

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    Before the combine, Peterson was in a battle with Prince Amukamara for who would be the first corner taken in the draft. After the combine, Peterson seems to have won the battle.

    Peterson is a shutdown corner who all but reassured his blazing speed by posting a 4.34-second 40-yard dash time. He is a relatively big, physical corner with big-time speed, and although it's early, I'd say he's going to be a Hall of Famer someday.

    Peterson is a lock to go top five, and there's a chance that he is drafted at No. 1 strictly because he is going to be the best player available to start the day.