The NFL Scouting Combine can help these 10 players improve their draft stock.
It’s that time of year, folks. It’s NFL Draft season. There’s just over two months to go until Roger Goodell starts shaking hands and handing out jerseys on stage.
Before all that goes down, though, players will throw on the tights and head to Indianapolis for the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. They’ll walk into Lucas Oil Stadium and put on a show for NFL coaches and scouts with hopes of catching someone’s attention.
While guys like Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey don’t exactly have to do much to reaffirm scouts’ opinions and secure their spots in the first round of the draft, there are plenty of guys who still have a lot to prove.
There are plenty of players who can help their cases with a great showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Below are 10 to watch.
Quarterback, Ohio State
He almost declared for the 2015 NFL Draft, and he probably should have when you look back at it. He wasn’t ready then either, but at least his draft stock was higher. Jones lost the starting job to J.T. Barrett this past season, and he has lot to prove to scouts: consistency, accuracy, maturity, etc. Essentially, the only thing Jones doesn’t need to prove is his arm strength.
Defensive End, Baylor
Internet memes aside, Shawn Oakman underwhelmed everyone this past season. His sack numbers dipped from 11 in 2014 to 4.5 in 2015, and he just seemed to be along for the ride at times. Oakman is a physical freak, and he can try and make his case for a second-round projection with a stellar showing in Indy.
It’s hard to believe he’s projected as a fourth-round pick with the amount of plays he made in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. If Jones can impress scouts with his acceleration, hips and footwork, he may be able to climb draft boards — especially with his return ability well documented.
Quarterback, Louisiana Tech
No, this is not a joke. In spite of the dramatic eyerolls Florida fans may give at this, it’s true. Jeff Driskel reinvented himself at Louisiana Tech in 2015. He threw for 4,026 yards, 27 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. If he throws at the NFL Scouting Combine, he can show off the physical attribute that drew comparisons to Tim Tebow out of high school. There have even been rumblings about a second-round grade for the former Gator — as insane as that may seem. At the very least, Driskel can work his way into the fourth round.
Defensive End, Penn State
We probably all still have the image of Anthony Zettel tackling a tree in the offseason, but that isn’t exactly a regular event at the NFL Scouting Combine, so he may have to adjust his strategy a bit. His sack numbers dropped from eight to four while his tackles-for-loss fell from 17 to 11 between 2014 and 2015. Zettel will have to put on a show on the bench and show out with the shuttle.
A lot of people believe Kevin Hogan may be destined for the sixth round. While he helped his case with the 27 touchdowns passing to just eight interceptions last season, he also had a Heisman Trophy finalist in Christian McCaffrey. Hogan can make the biggest impact by proving he’s shortened and cleaned up his delivery. He also needs to prove he can pinpoint the deep ball.
Wide Receiver, Colorado State
While there are comparisons between Rashard Higgins and Tyler Lockett, Higgins is a more refined route runner than Lockett was out of Kansas State. Right now, he’s hinging on that second-to-third-round line, but if he can fare well against press coverage at the NFL Scouting Combine and show off the explosiveness, Higgins could leapfrog some other receivers like Pharoh Cooper, Tyler Boyd or Braxton Miller on the draft board.
Offensive Guard, LSU
Vadal Alexander can be a useful weapon in the running game, showing excellent ability to chip off blocks and attack the second level. His draft stock has been teetering a little bit with the mention of him falling out of the second round. Alexander will have to work on his hand placement and explosion off the line. If he can hold his own in one-on-ones and do well in the agility drills like the shuttle, he may cement his second-round grade — maybe even crack the first round.
Running Back, Alabama
Before you get upset and start defending the Heisman Trophy winner, you have to realize why Derrick Henry hasn’t been glorified as a future NFL star just yet. He’s a physical specimen, sure, but he does have a lot to prove to NFL minds. Henry needs to impress with his pass-catching skills because that’s a vital part of most NFL offenses. He’ll have to show off his balance and agility to prove he can make guys miss at the next level. Henry is projected as a second-round pick now, but he can climb into the first round with a solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Wide Receiver, Florida
Physically, there shouldn’t be anyone expecting Demarcus Robinson to disappoint at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has the size and hands to make a solid career for himself in the NFL. But he’ll have to impress general managers and coaches with his interviews as well as with his physical tools. There are some character concerns with Robinson. His maturity is the biggest question hurting his draft stock. If Robinson can put on a show in Indy and convince general managers he’s ready to grow up, he may see his draft stock soar.