Last week's combine provided both an opportunity, as well as a test, for 2011 NFL Draft hopefuls.
While many players improved their draft stock with strong combine performances, several prospects had disappointing showings that may have hurt their chances of being a high draft choice in this year's NFL Draft.
It is unclear whether some of the guys are lesser athletes than presumed, or if they simply felt uncomfortable in an intimidating environment.
However, with NFL Pro Days now in the early stages, many potential draftees have a second chance to improve their stock. As opposed to the NFL combine, where every player works out in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana, players will be able to perform at their home stadium on Pro Day.
Six players in particular that may have hurt their 2011 NFL Draft stock are Cam Newton, Nick Fairley, Ricky Stanzi, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jeremy Beal and Kendric Burney.
Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn
Prior to working out at the combine, Heisman Trophy Winner and BCS champion Cam Newton was the heavy favorite to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. However, he may have hurt his stock, due to inaccurate passing at the combine. While Newton showed great arm strength, he did not appear comfortable in the three and five-step drop patterns and completed just 11 of 21 throws.
Despite his sub-par performance, Newton will likely still be the first quarterback selected in the draft, and he has an outside chance to be the No. 1 overall pick with a better throwing performance at NFL Pro Day in Auburn, set to take place on March 8th.
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was recently projected to be the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft by many experts. However, Fairley had a slightly disappointing performance at the NFL combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.87 seconds.
Normally, a 40-yard time of 4.87 for a defensive tackle is very good for a defensive tackle, but Marcell Dareus, another top prospect at the same position position, ran it at a 4.9, despite being nearly 30 pounds heavier than Fairley.
In this case, it seems as if Dareus may helped his cause more than Fairley hurt his. However, as each player aims to be the first defensive tackle taken in the draft, these simple 40-yard time measurements could result in Dareus being chosen ahead of Fairley.
Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
Originally projected as a third or fourth round pick, quarterback Ricky Stanzi was very disappointing at the combine, particularly with his accuracy. Stanzi came up short on simlpe throws and was consistently off-target on others.
Even worse, Stanzi showed little arm strength and under threw many of his receivers. Unless Stanzi can submit an impressive performance at NFL Pro Day, it is possible he won't even be drafted.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
Rogers, the crafty running back out of Oregon State, may have hurt his draft stock with a disappointing 40-yard dash time of 4.64. At just 5'6" and 196 pounds, top-notch speed from Rogers is a must.
Rogers also had a lackluster 33-inch vertical jump, raising questions regarding his apparent lack of explosiveness.
Rogers can redeem himself at NFL Pro Day with a higher vertical leap, or perhaps more importantly, a faster 40-yard time.
Jeremy Beal, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Beal, originally thought of as a mid-round pick, had an awful performance at the combine. Beal ran just a 5.1 in the 40-yard dash, which would be slow even for a defensive tackle.
The problem for Beal is that his speed is inadequate for the outside linebacker position, but at just 6'2", 262, he is too small to play defensive end. Unless Beal can chop off at least 0.2 seconds from his 40-yard time at NFL Pro Day—which seems unlikely at this point—his chances of being drafted will remain uncertain.
Who will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft?
Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina
Leading up to the combine, there was strong talk about the possibility of Burney being a potential first or second round pick. However, Burney ran just a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash, which is not nearly fast enough for a cornerback listed at 5'9", 196 pounds.
Scouts had raved in particular about Burney's speed, so it is possible that Burney simply choked under pressure. Either way, Burney will have to improve his 40-yard time at NFL Pro Day on March 23rd in order to reclaim his top two round status.