For those curious, the players are selected by a committee that features NFL personnel members and the directors for the BLESTO and National scouting services. The committee reviews and votes on each player participating. Players have to receive a certain number of votes to attend. With 333 players at the Combine this year, that has to be quite the process.
Alabama may have won National Signing Day on Wednesday, but the school doesn't have the most players at the Combine this year. Florida State and LSU lead the way with 13 players attending. Georgia is next with 11, followed by the Crimson Tide with 10. Of note, Michigan only has a single player – Denard Robinson – attending. He's listed as a wide out.
There are always some unknowns that get invited. Players like Massachusetts-Amherst offensive linemen Stephane Milhim or Azusa Pacific offensive lineman Luke Marquardt will be looking to make a name for themselves in Indianapolis.
The 2013 NFL Draft features a record 74 underclassmen. Not all of them were invited to the Combine. There are 67 underclassmen in the Combine this year. Among those not going are Eastern Washington quarterback Kyle Padron, Tennessee State running back Trabis Ward, Tennessee defensive tackle Darrington Sentimore, Stanford cornerback Terrence Brown and
Cal cornerback Steve Williams.
The "throwing quarterbacks" at the Combine this year are Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech, James Vandenberg of Iowa and, most surprisingly, Tyler Bray of Tennessee. The quarterbacks chosen to throw in Indianapolis typically are late-round or undrafted prospects. But this could be good for Bray. The junior had a down season and could become an offseason star starting with the Combine.
Here's the number of players per position attending:
Running back: 38
Wide receiver: 39
Tight end: 19
Offensive line: 58
Defensive line: 54
Defensive back: 60
Snubs of note:
Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan
The quarterback roster at the Shrine Game was less than stellar, but Carder was probably the most natural thrower of the bunch. Carder has good size and a good enough arm. It's difficult to understand why Iowa's James Vandenberg got an invite but Carder did not.
Jasper Collins, WR, Mount Union
For Purple Raider wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts received Combine invites and showed they were worth draft picks. Collins' resume should have got him an invite. The NFL found that both timed fairly well, as would Collins.
Travis Howard, CB, Ohio State
You'd think the NFL would want to see a cornerback with good size (6-foot, 198 pounds) from a legacy school known for sending good defensive backs to the pros.
Omar Hunter, DT, Florida
There wasn't a lot of interest in massive-body, two-down defensive tackles this year. Anthony Rashad White of Michigan State, Anthony McCloud of Florida State got snubbed, but Hunter was the most glaring omission. Of the three nose tackle prospects, he looks to have the most quickness off the line.
Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas
Johnson needed the Combine. He's an undersized back who was productive at times for Arkansas while Knile Davis was injured. But Johnson is known as much for fumbles as he is being the SEC's all-time leader in kickoff return yards. A good Combine could NFL evaluators forget about the fumbles and focus in on Johnson's quickness and agility.
Russell Shepard, WR, LSU
Although Shepard never quite lived up to the hype surrounding him in high school, he was a late Senior Bowl invite this year. Apparently that wasn't enough to garner a Combine invite.
Kenny Tate, S/LB, Maryland
The fickle NFL Draft process strikes Tate again. A couple years ago, Tate looked like a top safety prospect because he could run and hit. Because of a position change and injuries, Tate needed the Combine to show he has the skills to make an NFL roster.
Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond
Taylor was one of the more intriguing players from Shrine Game week. As a 6-foot-4, 230-pound safety, the athletic Taylor would have turned heads during workouts.
Michael Williams, TE, Alabama
Williams is arguably the best player to not receive and invite. Williams is known mostly as a blocking tight end, but showed at the Senior Bowl he can work up the field and catch passes. He's never going to be a star tight end, but he should be a solid No. 2 tight end for a long time.