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NFL Combine 2015: Schedule and Prospects Most in Need of Strong Performances

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2015

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 11:  Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins carries the ball down the sidelines during a 42-30 loss to the Oregon Ducks at Rose Bowl on October 11, 2014 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The NFL scouting combine is more polarizing than Jameis Winston.

Some love it. The chance to see each top prospect on equal footing in a controlled environment is admittedly rare and not seen anywhere else.

On the other hand, it is just a bunch of guys running around in shorts as a mostly empty stadium watches on in a haze of boredom and clicking stopwatches while occasionally scribbling notes.

Most important is not how observers feel about the event, though. Rather, it is about how the prospects themselves treat the event. Some use it as a launching pad, while others flunk out during workouts or the interview process.

As things get underway in Indianapolis, keep in mind that every prospect desires a stock boost. Others downright need it to stay, re-join or enter the first-round conversation.

2015 NFL Scouting Combine Schedule

DateTime (ET)EventTV
Wed., Feb. 182 p.m.Press ConferencesNFLN
Thu., Feb. 192 p.m.Press ConferencesNFLN
Fri., Feb. 209 a.m.Workouts (OL, TE)NFLN
Sat., Feb. 219 a.m.Workouts (RB, QB, WR)NFLN
Sun., Feb. 229 a.m.Workouts (LB, DL)NFLN
Mon., Feb. 239 a.m.Workouts (DB)NFLN
NFL.com

All combine dates and times courtesy of NFL.com.

Live Stream: NFL Now

Online Coverage: NFL.com

Mobile: NFL Mobile

Prospects in Need of Strong Scouting Combine

Arik Armstead, DE/OLB, Oregon

Perhaps no prospect outside of Winston is more polarizing than Oregon's Arik Armstead.

There's a reason Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Justis Mosqueda calls the Sacramento, California, native the "Draft's Most Divisive Prospect" in an excellent breakdown.

Armstead certainly looks the part at 6'8" and 290 pounds. A frame like that suggests he should hold up well on the edges of a defensive line or kick inside on passing downs to provide an unorthodox interior rush.

There is a reason ESPN's Mel Kiper gushes over Armstead's skill set while putting him at No. 8 overall to the Atlanta Falcons:

When you think of what a guy like Ziggy Ansah can do for Detroit in converting speed to power and removing the pocket even when he's not blowing by you -- essentially succeeding even as a relatively raw player -- there's a comparison to be made between the two players.

It is not a widely held view though. Really, Armstead seems to fall behind others such as Randy Gregory, Alvin Dupree, Shane Ray, Shaq Thompson and perhaps others at the position.

That said, the general consensus seems to be that Armstead's stock is on the rise. As that somewhat long list details, though, high-upside rushers are bountiful in the 2015 class, so Armstead will need a memorable showing to fully differentiate himself.

Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

Jan 1, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Central Florida Knights wide receiver Breshad Perriman (11) against the Baylor Bears during the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Central Florida defeated Baylor 52-42. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODA
USA TODAY Sports

Receivers are just as bountiful as rushers in the 2015 class.

Take Breshad Perriman for example.

The UCF product was a relative unknown until recent weeks, in large part thanks to NFL Network's Gil Brandt:

Gil Brandt @Gil_Brandt

UCF WR Breshad Perriman is ascending. Father Brett played in NFL for 10 years, 2nd-round pick. No surprise if Breshad went in 1st.

Kiper helped the narrative by mocking Perriman to San Francisco at No. 15 overall.

The hype seems real enough. Perriman is 6'3" and 214 pounds and a deceptive deep threat who caught nine touchdowns last year despite miserable quarterback play in the wake of Blake Bortles' departure.

There is an obvious risk-reward to Perriman when one flips on the tape, though. He struggles to catch the ball at a consistent clip despite his habitual, natural separation from defenders.

Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo notes the issue:

Steve Palazzolo @PFF_Steve

UCF WR Breshad Perriman had 7 drops on 54 catchable passes (12.96%). Ranked 81st of 91 qualifiers

Like any other on-field weakness, this is something Perriman can address in a personal matter at the scouting combine in front of some of the biggest names at the pro level.

If he does, a first-round selection may await. If not, look for the UCF product to fade back into the shadows of a deep class.

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Feel free to attempt to name the quarterbacks behind Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota this year. 

Actually, don't—the drop-off is so significant that there is no true need to know at this point. UCLA's Brett Hundley is the third quarterback on the board, but he's a serious project player whose ultimate draft fate depends on how he performs over the next few months.

As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes, he is beginning to fall:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Meant to tweet this last night: Very close to moving Bryce Petty ahead of Brett Hundley for QB3 in this class.

Hundley is a project in the utmost sense. He stands strong at 6'3" and 226 pounds with a solid arm and offers great mobility, but he offers little in the way of reading a defense, moving through progressions or sensing when it is time to get rid of the football.

ESPN's Louis Riddick points out that last bit:

Desperation is a funny thing in the NFL.

That very trait could make Hundley a first-round pick no matter what. In all likelihood, though, the league will remain level-headed when it comes to the UCLA product and demand more of him than just long-term upside if he is to come off the board in the first round.

The journey begins now for Hundley, who has a lot of ground to cover if he is to ensure that more than just two signal-callers come of the board in this year's opening round.

Note: Stats courtesy of NFL.com as of Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET. All advanced metrics via Pro Football Focus.

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