2010 NFL Combine: Players Who May Rise or Drop the Most

Nick Mordowanec@NickMordoCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2010

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 14:  Safety Taylor Mays #2 ofthe USC Trojans breaks up a pass in the end zone on the final play of the first half aganst the Stanford Cardinal on November 14, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  Stanford won 55-21.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

As we are on the precipice of the 2010 NFL combine, there are many questions about big-time players which have yet to be answered.

Luckily, the combine may be imperative in terms of realizing which players’ draft stock is rising and those that are sinking quicker than the Titanic.

First off, let’s look at USC safety Taylor Mays. Mays is a great physical specimen, standing around 6’3” and weighing near 230 pounds. He is a three-time All-American and three-time All-Pac 10 player.

Yet, many have questioned whether he can really cover NFL-caliber wide receivers. The Pac 10 is not widely known for great receiving play, but that could be an unfair knock to Mays, as he has no control over that.

On the plus side, Mays’ abilities have been compared to the Arizona Cardinals’ Adrian Wilson and the late Sean Taylor. He is projected as a first-round draft pick by many scouts and prognosticators, and a good showing at the combine should shore up his status.

Secondly, there is Jimmy Clausen. The former Notre Dame quarterback has skyrocketed up draft boards across the country, mostly due to his superb statistics of the 2009-10 college season. Everybody finally got what they expected out of him: a big season with few mistakes.

However, the big question with Clausen is not with his skills. It’s with his body.

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He recently had toe surgery and has not competed in many action drills since then. NFL scouts will want to see Clausen at his best at the combine, but most understand his potential–a reason why he has been projected as a top-10 pick.

A third player who has been projected from being a top-five pick to dropping way down the board is Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford.

Bradford had a magical year his sophomore season, leading the nation in most of the major passing categories en route to a berth in the national championship game. This past season, however, he wasn’t so lucky.

Bradford would have probably surpassed current Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford on the draft board if he declared last year, but he wanted to come back and risk injury to try to win a title. His move backfired as he was knocked out of the team’s first game against BYU, which was the beginning of a season of turmoil for the Sooners and put Bradford’s NFL career in jeopardy.

Some teams, like the Rams and Redskins, may pass on quarterbacks to take dominant defensive players. Bradford’s future depends on two things: Which teams need a franchise quarterback right now and what teams take a chance on a quarterback with an iffy shoulder.

But for Bradford, all hope is not lost. Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees came back from a devastating injury to lead New Orleans to the Promised Land, so maybe Bradford can come back strong as well.

Stranger things have happened.


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