Proving ground: Which players need a good NFL Combine?

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 02: Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks makes a catch during the Capitol One Bowl against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Florida Citrus Bowl on January 2, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

We see it every year. A player whose draft stock appears to be on the downturn has a great showing at the NFL Combine and all of the sudden they return to being top prospects. Fair or not, it happens. Here are a few players who could fall into the category of needing a good Combine. Who else needs a strong Combine? Let us know in the comments.

1. WRs Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina and Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M
These two are being grouped together because there are similar questions about each. Both struggled to gain separation during games in 2011 and may not have good speed. The 40-yard dash is an overrated endeavor, but it's not for these two. If they time in the 4.7 area, their stock will plummet.

2. DE Donte Paige-Moss, North Carolina
Paige-Moss was poised to have a big junior season for the Tar Heels. That never happened. Paige-Moss was a backup in 2011 and flamed out in his exit from the Tar Heels, bashing coaches and fans. Good pass rushers come at a premium in the NFL Draft. If Paige-Moss shows well in drills, his stock could explode.



3. OLB/DE Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
Irvin was a pass-rush specialist for the Mountaineers, but was hampered playing end in the team's 3-3-5 scheme. He was often neutralized in run situations and doesn't have the strength to stay at end. His straight-forward speed is known, but his overall agility and strength are questions marks.

4. S Janzen Jackson, McNeese State
Jackson, a blue chip recruit at Tennessee, was to be the next Eric Berry. He's a hitter and has optimum athleticism. But after leaving Tennessee, he fell into obscurity at McNeese. If his minset is right, Jackson is the best safety in this year's class. He'll need to do better in team interviews than he does in drills.

5. LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
The most obvious player of being in need of a strong performance this week is Burfict. There may not have been a single positive thing said about Burfict in six months. If he's being talked about, it's questions about his effort, on-field intelligence and the shape he's in. While he won't quiet his critics this week, he could do enough to convince one team of drafting him highly.

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