10 Players to Watch at the Combine
Here are ten players whose stock could be affected drastically by their Combine performances:
Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: Te'o obviously has all the on-field intangibles - leadership, passion, intensity, and effort. However, scouts are nervous about how his athleticism will translate to the next level. Te'o's draft stock could rise or fall quite a bit based on his forty-yard dash and three cone drill times. Those times will have the largest impact on how scouts view him. There is also the Lennay Kekua situation, which teams will likely ask about during the interview process. Teams will want to be convinced that Te'o has thick skin and won't be affected by the hoax down the road.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU: A native of Ghana, Ansah was recruited by a Mormon missionary who thought that Ansah's size (6'6'', 250) would be a great fit on the football field. Ansah joined the BYU football team in 2010, and though he is extremely raw in his football ability, his freakish athleticism made him effective on the field. Teams are looking at him as a sort of project player, who will need tons of coaching but has a ridiculously high ceiling. He's a lock to be one of the top performers at the Combine, but if he completely dominates, he could be in the top-ten discussion when the draft comes around.
Menelik Watson, OT, FSU: Watson is similar to Ansah in several ways. He grew up in England before heading to Marist College, where he played basketball from 2009-2011. He played football for the first time at Saddleback College - a junior college - before moving to Florida State and playing there for one year. He's another relatively raw prospect who has exceptional athleticism, and if he can drop some jaws at the Combine, he could be a first-round pick.
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: We all know Mathieu from his days as the "Honey Badger" and his recurring problems with marijuana. If you can recall his playing days at LSU, the kid was an absolute monster, making big hits, stripping ball carriers, and taking punts back to the house. The interview process will be particularly important to Mathieu, as teams will want to know that he has put his days of drug use behind him. In addition, teams are concerned over his speed and size. Mathieu reportedly ran a hand-timed 4.47 forty-yard dash recently, and if he could duplicate that at the Combine it could go a long way. Teams will also be looking to see if he has the size and length to defend some of the big receivers in the NFL.
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech: We might as well stick with players who were kicked off of their football teams. Rogers was suspended from Tennessee indefinitely for violating team rules, and transferred to Tennessee Tech, where he caught 61 passes for 893 yards during his one season there. He has some impressive on-field ability, but teams will want to know that he has the right attitude going forward. They will hope to find out if that is the case during the interview process.