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NFL Combine Preview: Who Has The Most To Gain And Lose

Steven Covelman |
February 22, 2012 | 4:41 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

QB Brandon Weeden led Oklahoma State to its first BCS victory, but is he too old for an early pick? (KT King/Creative Commons)
QB Brandon Weeden led Oklahoma State to its first BCS victory, but is he too old for an early pick? (KT King/Creative Commons)

The time has come again for some of college football's best to be measured, tested, and scrutinized by their future employers and armchair quarterback across the nation.

It's the NFL Scouting Combine and virtually every scout, coach and general manager will be in Indianapolis looking for the future of their respective franchise.

Most of the event involves players waiting their turn in line to lift weights and run as fast as they can for only a few seconds of what supposedly qualifies as compelling television. Yet, viewers will tune in in droves to watch a whopping 328 prospects participate in the spectacle that began Wednesday and runs through next Tuesday. After all, some 5.2 million American households tuned in at some point last March. Following the combine, performances will be evaluated and scrutinized until the NFL Draft takes place on April 26.

The 2012 draft class is already being called one of the most talented in over a decade. Headlined by Andrew Luck, the consensus number one pick since he decided to return to Stanford for his junior season, this class also features players like Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, who in any other year would receive strong consideration for the top spot on hundreds of mock drafts.

That being said, this class is full of question marks, some of which will be addressed this week. Here are some of the prospects that have the most to gain and the most to lose at the NFL Scouting Combine.

RGIII looks to buck the trend of Heisman winners failing in the NFL. (shutterBRI/Creative Commons)
RGIII looks to buck the trend of Heisman winners failing in the NFL. (shutterBRI/Creative Commons)
QB Robert Griffin III

Is he the next Cam Newton?  Some scouts think so and have already started comparing this year's Heisman Trophy winner to his predecessor. He has tremendous upside and is a freak of an athlete like Newton, but possesses even better decision-making ability. Griffin should shine in interviews and workouts, but one area where he may falter is the size department. Many NFL officials believe that the former Baylor quarterback is under 6-feet tall, not 6-foot-2 as he is currently listed. However, a great combine for Griffin could have teams like the Redskins and the Dolphins scrambling to trade up for his services.

DE Quinton Coples

The North Carolina defensive end is coming off a disappointing season, recording 7.5 sacks following a year in which he was in double-digits in the sack department and first-team All-ACC. While his production for the Tar Heels was by no means terrible, scouts are concerned with the drop in his production. Accompany that with a poor performance at the Senior Bowl last month and Coples could be in for a drop in his draft stock if he doesn't show his potential at the combine. As it stands right now, Coples is a fringe top-10 pick and the combine is one of his last chances to solidify his place as the best defensive line prospect in this class.

QB Brandon Weeden

There is no doubt that Weeden is talented after two fantastic seasons at Oklahoma State. He has NFL size and an NFL arm, but he has one major problem. He is 28 years old. In 2009 and 2010 that was the average age of starting NFL quarterbacks. If teams are going to take a chance on him, he is going to have to have a fantastic performance at the combine and prove that he is ready to be a starter immediately. Teams are not going to wait for a 28-year-old to develop, so it is now or never for the grandpa of this draft class.

Burfict could inspire fear in the hearts of opposing QBs. (James Santelli/NT)
Burfict could inspire fear in the hearts of opposing QBs. (James Santelli/NT)
LB Vontaze Burfict

At the start of the season Burfict, was known for being a hard-hitting, no-nonsense linebacker with tons of potential. Well, people's perception of Burfict has certainly changed. He is now known as a penalty-inducing, overrated head case. Where Burfict really needs to step up this week is in his interviews. He should do fine in his workouts, but he needs to prove to teams that he is not going to be a thorn in their side if they draft him. Unfortunately for the former Arizona State linebacker, perception may push him out of the first round no matter how well he tests in Indianapolis.

WR Kendall Wright

Another Baylor product and Robert Griffin's number one target this past season, Wright should see his stock rise after the combine. At 5-foot-10, size is a bit of a concern, but for what he lacks in height he makes up for in sheer ability. He gets great separation off the line of scrimmage and is very effective in the short to intermediate passing game. Combine that with excellent body control and hands, and Wright could possibly see his name called before bigger names, like Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery, with a strong showing in front of scouts and coaches.


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