Not every prospect comes into the NFL Scouting Combine with a glowing reputation or a defined skill set. These are considered high-risk players due to the uncertainty that surrounds them, although that risk sometimes gives way to ample reward.
One recent example of such a player is current Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu. The LSU product entered the 2013 combine with an unfavorable reputation after being kicked off the football team following several violations of its substance-abuse policy. But after his 4.51-second 40-yard dash and glowing reviews from his positional drills, he began to work his way up draft boards.
When the draft finally arrived, Mathieu went from being a potential fifth- or sixth-round selection to the 69th pick, going to the Cardinals. The gamble paid off for Arizona, as Mathieu has become an integral part of the team's secondary over his two NFL seasons.
Unfortunately, not all of these stories come with a happy ending. Some risky prospects fall back into old habits and derail promising careers, and others just aren't able to translate their unique skill sets to the NFL. Other prospects aren't able to overcome pre-existing injury concerns that make them a risky selection.
Before we take a look at a few such players to keep an eye on this year, here's a look at the combine's full schedule and viewing information.
2015 NFL Scouting Combine Information
|NFL Scouting Combine Dates and TV Info|
|Wed., Feb. 18||2 p.m.||Press Conferences||NFLN|
|Thu., Feb. 19||2 p.m.||Press Conferences||NFLN|
|Fri., Feb. 20||9 a.m.||Workouts (OL, TE)||NFLN|
|Sat., Feb. 21||9 a.m.||Workouts (RB, QB, WR)||NFLN|
|Sun., Feb. 22||9 a.m.||Workouts (LB, DL)||NFLN|
|Mon., Feb. 23||9 a.m.||Workouts (DB)||NFLN|
All combine dates and times courtesy of NFL.com.
Live Stream: NFL Now
Online Coverage: NFL.com
Mobile: NFL Mobile
High-Risk Players to Watch
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Perhaps the draft's biggest boom-or-bust prospect, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham enters the combine with plenty of talent and upside, yet he also brings a couple enormous red flags.
At 6'6" and 225 pounds, Green-Beckham has a freakish combination of size and athleticism. His length and leaping ability give him an enormous catch radius, and his acceleration makes him a dangerous deep threat. He has the ability to flourish in the NFL as a potential No. 1 receiver and red-zone weapon.
Here's the risk: Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri's football team following an altercation with a woman and two marijuana-related offenses. Not only are his off-field issues enormous concerns, but we haven't seen him in action since 2013, as he was ineligible to play last season after transferring to Oklahoma.
Draft analyst Mike Mayock watched Green-Beckham's footage from 2013 and came away with this impression, via Peter King of The MMQB: "I watched every target to him in 2013, and he has no idea what he's doing, but he changes games."
Is that game-changing ability worth the risk? We'll get a better idea following his stint at the combine.
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
There's a possibility Marcus Peters is this year's most talented prospect at the cornerback position; however, he won't be graded that way following some character concerns.
Peters has great size for an outside corner at 6'0" and 198 pounds. A physical player, he excels in press coverage and possesses enough strength to redirect receivers and disrupt routes. He's also quick and agile. allowing him to stick with quicker receivers, guard against the deep ball and close on throws quickly.
Like Green-Beckham, Peters was dismissed from his football team. He was kicked off Washington's squad after several altercations with the coaching staff. That kind of insubordination won't be tolerated in the NFL, and Peters will have some work to do to improve his reputation.
Peters has begun the process to atone for his mistakes, returning to the university to speak with coach Chris Petersen, according to Adam Jude of The Seattle Times. That's a good start, but he must prove that trend will continue.
Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips is a risk for an entirely different reason than the two aforementioned prospects. He doesn't come with any off-field baggage, but he does have a scary injury history.
At 6'6" and 334 pounds, Phillips is a monster in the trenches; however, he must also carry a lot of weight on a surgically repaired back. In 2013, he was lost for the season and needed surgery to address a chronic back issue that bothered him for a "couple years," according to coach Bob Stoops (via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.com).
He did bounce back and play 13 games in 2014, accumulating 38 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss and two sacks, according to CFBStats.com. But his injury left him inexperienced, playing only a total of 20 games at Oklahoma.
Teams must not only decide if Phillips is completely past his checkered injury history, but they must also figure out if this raw prospect has the ability to reach his true potential.