NFL Combine: 10 Players To Keep An Eye On

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The NFL Scouting Combine is almost upon us, and we here at WTFP are really looking forward to it. Besides the NFL Draft, it is the biggest event of the NFL Offseason. Feb. 24th, players will file in to Lucas Oil Stadium and go through the biggest and most public interview process.

Its been more than a month since the we last saw players take the field, so I am extremely anxious. There are a few guys i’ll have my eyes set on. I’m interested in the “real” heights and weights of players, their forty times, bench press reps, and how well or poorly they perform in various drills. Below is a brief run down of those players.

USC OT – Tyron Smith

  • The Trojan tackle will be closely watched by all. He has great measurebales, tremendous athletic ability, and the potential to be the “blue chip” offensive tackle in the draft. He is a former tight end, so he should fair well in the on field drills. What I’m really interested in seeing is his actual height, weight, arm length, and bench press reps. The knock on Smith has been his size and strength. He’s well built, but he only came in at 291 pounds during the 2010 season. If he can come in over 300 pounds, and still show good athleticism, he could see his stock rise to top 10 status.

Boise State WR – Titus Young

Titus Young is one of the most interesting receivers in the draft. He is one of the few guys that can strike fear in the eyes of defenders, with his speed and suddenness. He was hit and miss at the Senior Bowl, showing off his explosiveness at times, and at other times, dropping catchable balls. I’m interested in seeing what his actual forty time is. He ran a 4.4 at Boise States Pro-Day last year. Can he run a 4.3 and move into the upper echelon of receivers? I also want to see Young run the gauntlet. He’ll need to show that he can catch the ball consistently and away from his frame.

Baylor DT – Phil Taylor

  • Big Phil Taylor is about as hot as anyone right now. After wowing scouts during Senior Bowl week, some think that Taylor has improved his stock enough to be considered a late first round pick. I want to see if he can sustain that momentum and take his stock even higher. We already know Taylor’s true height and weight, but we don’t know exactly how strong he is. How many reps on the bench press can he pull off? I also want to see how athletic he is. The key for a guy his size is, being able to make plays outside of the tackle box. On tape, he looks to have good athleticism, but the Combine will give us an true indication of how athletic he is.

North Carolina WR – Greg Little

  • Greg Little is such an intriguing prospect. He missed the entire 2010 season due to suspension, and it seems as if a lot of people have forgotten about him. In 2009, he was one of the more impressive receivers with the ball in his hands. He has a rare combination of size, strength, agility and physicality. The former running back is a raw talent at receiver, but he has the potential to be a good one. I cannot wait to see what kind of shape he’s in, if he still shows that explosiveness, and how fast he is. I’m also anticipating interviews and reports on his character. The interview process will be big for Little.

Missouri DE – Aldon Smith

  • Every year there are a few athletic freaks that catch the attention of scouts. The majority are simply just workout warriors and do not warrant the attention. However, that is not the case for Aldon Smith. He is a freak of nature who will put up eye popping numbers at the Combine. After watching film on Smith, I know what kind of speed he has and what kind of athlete he is. What I didn’t get a good feel for was, how loose and flexible are his hips? Can he stand up and drop into coverage, and do so smoothly? If he’s shows that he can, he becomes a top commodity in the draft. 4-3 and 3-4 teams will covet his services.

Nebraska S – Eric Hagg

  • The safety class is not top heavy at all. There is only one guy in my opinion that has first round ability, and that’s UCLA Safety, Rahim Moore. Nonetheless, the middle rounds will be loaded with some solid safeties. Eric Hagg is a guy that has caught my eye recently. He shows excellent athletic ability and speed on the field. The Combine will be real important for Hagg. I currently consider him a 5th round pick, but he has a chance to make his way into the 3rd round. What i’ll be watching for is how well he does with back pedaling, clicking and closing, 180 degree turning, and tracking and attacking the ball.

Florida OC/OG – Mike Pouncey

  • I was disappointed when Mike Pouncey decided to not participate in the Senior Bowl. I was looking forward to watching him at guard and center, to get a better idea of where he’ll play in the NFL. I believe he has the tools to be an effective center, and I’ll be looking to confirm that during the Combine. I also will be looking to see if he has improved upon his snapping mechanics. Last year, at the beginning of the season, he struggled at getting the ball to the quarterback. Pouncey is apart of the new breed of players at the center position, well built, strong, and athletic. Like his brother, he moves exceptionally well in space, and plays with a nasty attitude. With his versatility, he has a chance to go in the first round.

Illinois ILB – Martez Wilson

  • Like Aldon Smith, Martez Wilson is another one of those “freakish” players. He has the makings of an excellent NFL linebacker. I’m curious to see how smooth he is in his pass drops and just how fast he is. Its been reported that he runs a 4.5. I also want to know what his best position is. He played inside at Illinois, but he also got some opportunities to rush the passer off the edge. He possesses the size and strength to play SOLB in the 3-4. My question is, can he consistently get after the quarterback? Can he bend and flatten out around big offensive tackles?

Nebraska CB – Prince Amukamara

  • We all know the kind of talent Prince Amukamara is. I do not question his technique, tackling ability, or ball skills. What I do have questions about is his speed and flexibility. After performing poorly against Oklahoma State Wide Receiver, Justin Blackmon, many people around the nation wondered the same things. I don’t put a lot of weight in the forty-yard dash, but I am interested in knowing just how fast he is. I believe no matter what he runs he’ll be a top 15 pick.

Washington QB – Jake Locker

  • Right now, there isn’t a consensus on Jake Locker. Some have him as a first round pick, others have him as a second. I’m looking to see if he can come in and solidify himself as a first round guy. His biggest drawback has been his accuracy. There is nothing more important for a quarterback than accuracy. That will be the focal point for scouts and fans. Can he hit receivers in stride, consistently put the ball between the numbers, and connect on deep outs and 7-routes.