2012 NFL Draft: 7 NFL Draft Prospects That Can't Wait for the Combine
With the college football season more than halfway over, elite senior and some junior players on disappointing teams need to turn their attention to being healthy and preparing for NFL scouts in February. Those on top contenders will continue to go 100 percent as they get noticed in games that all will watch on Saturdays.
Many can sway NFL teams' opinions with the right 40-yard dash time and other measurements that will take place just over three months from now.
Here are the studs, or average players, that will demand attention when wearing spandex instead of pads in front of scouts.
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It's hard to find a picture of Matt Kalil for the article, but NFL scouts will get the picture of USC's left tackle in February.
Measurements like not only height, but arm length and hand size, are important for offensive linemen because of the difficulty of pass blocking elite NFL pass rushers. Kalil stands all of 6'7" and he's listed at an ideal weight of 295.
While NFL teams may want more mass on Kalil, it's better to come in with weight to gain than looking like Andre Smith. If Kalil can cash in a 40 time of around five seconds, it will put him as the most athletic offensive linemen in the 2012 NFL draft if the redshirt junior decides to enter.
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Matt Kalil's quarterback will be an underrated prospect at the NFL combine and, because of that, Matt Barkley will catch scouts off-guard.
Barkley isn't an ideal height for a quarterback at 6'2", but he's gotten in better shape entering his junior season. Critics knock the arm strength of Lane Kiffin's passer, but he'll show that he throws with decent velocity despite not having the strongest deep-ball arm.
In addition to that, Barkley will complete nearly all of his throws in the passing drills.
If Barkley decides to enter the 2012 NFL draft with one remaining year of eligibility at USC, he'll need to compete as much as possible because he'll be viewed as a lesser player than Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin and Landry Jones.
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LSU's best player in general has displayed great speed in returns like the 89-yard interception taken back for a touchdown against Tennessee. Kick returning has shown NFL teams Morris Claiborne's versatility is similar to Patrick Peterson.
Claiborne is listed at a slight 189 pounds, but corners are expected to be closer to 200 pounds than 220 like Peterson. A fluid backpedal is the most important aspect for a corner and Claiborne beats out Peterson in that regard.
Forget bench press with cornerbacks not named Vontae Davis; Claiborne will have himself a nice day when the NFL combine rolls around.
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Alabama's beast running back will likely put up better bench rep numbers at the combine, but the stout ball carrier will get a 40 time under 4.45. Many view Trent Richardson as a better pro prospect than the Crimson Tide's former runner, Mark Ingram, because Richardson boasts a better burst.
While Ingram didn't participate in the 2011 NFL combine, Richardson likely doesn't have as good agility. Darren McFadden was criticized for poor results in the cone drill, and how's that working out for the NFL's fourth-leading rusher?
If I were Richardson, I'd show interested teams the college football preseason Sports Illustrated cover and opt out of participating in the charade. His performance throughout the rest of the year may allow him to do so anyway.
Robert Griffin III
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The former track hurdler is going to have a field day if he decides to participate in the throwing February in Indianapolis.
Robert Griffin's speed is excellent and teams know that running isn't the Baylor Bears' quarterback's first option anyway. It's just a prediction, but Mike Shanahan should be gushing at Griffin's rollout throws because of the offense Washington employs.
Griffin isn't 6'6" like Cam Newton, but he'll run a much faster time in the 40 while being great in cone drills, showing that his footwork won't break down in tight spaces.
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Donte Paige-Moss won't be able to get to February's combine soon enough, largely because of his disappointing season with the Tar Heels. His production has been so underwhelming that he could opt to stay at North Carolina for his senior season.
Paige-Moss at 6'4" is at an ideal height for a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he'll have to show decent drop back ability in coverage. Expect the arm length of North Carolina's pass rusher to put him over the top athletically over other prospects.
If a 40 yard-dash time of 4.65 is recorded, Paige-Moss will be a top 20 pick because the NFL will never have enough pass rushers.
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Janoris Jenkins was at Florida until his off-the-field issues piled up too high for the university to keep him, forcing the junior to transfer to North Alabama.
Scouts will keep their opinions of Jenkins limited to his Florida days because his current competition isn't a good indicator of his skill or improvement. Before being kicked off the team, Jenkins experienced big game situations in the national championship and against SEC competition.
Jenkins has top end speed, helping him break on the ball for interceptions and to make up for his mistakes. If his 40 time is closer to 4.3 than 4.4, he'll find his way into the late first round.