Players in need of a good NFL Combine showing

Kevin C. Cox

Although the NFL Combine is just a small part of the equation for draft prospects, it can be an important one. A bad showing at the Combine may not drop players in the draft, they can at least solidify draft positioning or slightly boost it.

Although the NFL Combine is just a small part of the equation for draft prospects, it can be an important one. A bad showing at the Combine may not drop players in the draft, they can at least solidify draft positioning or slightly boost it.


There are some obvious players that need a good Combine -- cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Manti Te'o immediately come to mind. But they're not the only players who need a good showing, on the field and off. Here's a look at more players that need to win in Indianapolis:

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

Lattimore vows to "shock" doctors when they check up on his surgically repaired knee. Since he won't be participating in any drills, the importance of Lattimore's medical evaluation is high. How prepared is Lattimore for the Combine? He's bringing renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews with him to answer questions teams may have about his knee. Lattimore's NFL Draft stock is now solidly in the middle rounds. He's unlikely to rise much, but if teams become even more wary of his knee, he could fall outside the first 100 picks.

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee

During the Combine, you're likely to hear the silly phrase "arm talent" when talking about gifted quarterbacks. Look for that term to get associated with Bray, who has as much physical ability any quarterback in this year's class. He just never put it together at Tennessee, especially against better defenses (South Carolina notwithstanding). Bray is one of the three throwing quarterbacks at the Combine, meaning he'll be passing during wide receiver drills. While he should be judged by his 922 attempts at Tennessee, his performance in Indianapolis could go a long way in determining his draft position. If he does poorly, he's a third-day pick. If he does well, he could get into the end of the second round.

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

Without question, Taylor is a powerful runner. He was productive too, rushing for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns during his Stanford career. But there are questions about Taylor's top-end speed. He doesn't break away from many defenders and gets caught from behind. Taylor will probably test out in the 4.6 area in the 40-yard dash. That may drop his stock some, but don't forget that Vick Ballard and Alfred Morris did the same last year.

Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech

The former Tennessee wide receiver is going to time well and probably catch most of his passes in the quick-fire gauntlet drill. Neither of those things will help Rogers' draft stock. It's the interviews with teams that will determine his draft fate. He was kicked out of Tennessee for positive drug tests, and NFL teams will be grilling him on the subject. They'll be testing Rogers' maturity and if he shows any cracks, some teams may knock him completely off their draft board.

Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia

Take away a four-game suspension to start the season for failing a drug test and a recent DUI and Ogletree could be a top-10 pick. But because of his baggage, Ogletree's placement in the first round is anything but set. He can help rebound his image by taking responsibility during team meetings. Ogletree is expected to time out well, which should quiet some concerns, but some teams may have too many red flags to draft him.

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

How Rhodes tests at the Combine will determine if he's a cornerback or a safety in the NFL. There are always issues with athleticism for bigger cornerbacks, and Rhodes is one of the largest in the class at 6'2 and 217 pounds. If he doesn't time out well, he could be like Antrel Rolle, who started as a corner and had to shift to safety.

Brad Wing, P, LSU

A punter? That's right, a punter. It's extremely rare for a specialist to go pro early, and he's a redshirt sophomore to boot, but that's the case with Wing. NFL teams will want to know why. Wing was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl for undisclosed reasons and was among the mass exodus of players from LSU. There is no indication why he was suspended, but it must have been such a reason that led to his departure. He's a talent punter, undoubtedly, but NFL teams will heavily weigh Wing's character.

Those are just seven players who need to win the Underwear Olympics. Who do you think needs a good Combine showing? Let us know in the comments.

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