This week the 2012 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana kicks off. This is where the scouts and executives of the 32 NFL teams will be able to grill, prod and measure over 300 NFL prospects. This is the event where a strong workout could propel a guy into an early draft spot or where a bad one could leave you waiting all draft weekend for a call. The combine isn’t an exact science. Workout warriors like Adam Archuleta and Vernon Gholston moved up draft boards because of great workouts but failed to shine in the NFL but others like Vernon Davis and Chris Johnson’s electric combines proved to be a sign of future of All-Pro play. Of the 300+ invited to the combine I will concentrate on the 31 players invited from the Carolinas and breakdown their current rankings and what they need to do jump up draft boards. I will lay them out in position groups and with position rankings and projected draft position.
Alshon Jeffery (#4 WR) South Carolina 6-4 226 Late 1st Rd
The biggest question surrounding Jeffery is not his elite talent but his body. Big, strong and fast are the traits that great WRs posses. Big and slow, not so much. All eyes will be on Jeffery’s 40 yard dash because a 4.5 gets him drafted in the mid to late 1st round and a 4.6 plus he moves to the 2nd.
Brian Quick (#10 WR) App State 6-4 222 Early 3rd Rd
Another big bodied WR that doesn’t flash off the line of scrimmage but whose long strides let him eat up cushion and pull away. Great hands that make the hardest catches look easy. Hand/Eye coordination and body control are elite. I think he will go early 3rd but the second round would not surprise me one bit.
Dwight Jones (#15 WR) UNC 6-3 226 Late 3rd Rd
Just like first 2 guys Jones is a big WR but he comes in a little faster than them. Jones had a bad Senior Bowl week and didn’t impress many with his play or practice. If he is going to get a chance to live up to his potential he will need to have a great combine.
Chris Givens (#16 WR) Wake Forest 5-11 195 Early 4th Rd
Now it’s time for the speedsters and Givens is that. Perfect for the slot or flanker position he should impress with his speed and route running ability. Look for him to go to a team with a big receiver in place as the speed slot guy. Miami and Dallas could bite.
T.J. Graham (#32 WR) NC State 5-11 180 6th-7th Rd
Pure speed is what you get from Graham. He will be a deep threat and return man at the next level. His sub 4.4 speed and skill set will help him pull away from the NFL safeties that will more than likely be assigned to cover him.
Dwayne Allen (#2 TE) Clemson 6-4 255 Late 1st Rd
Allen may be the surest can’t miss pro prospect in this draft. Great size and hands. He catches anything that gets to him and makes great blocks in motion. He will fit the TE mold that NFL teams are wanting and will become a Pro Bowler early in his career.
Joe Looney (#14 OG) Wake Forest 6-3 320 7th Rd
Very fast and light on his feet for a big man. He will fit nicely into a pulling guard system that shows off his movement. Great downfield blocker and has high motor. Will have trouble pass blocking unless he gets help due to his high body shape.
Antoine McClain (#15 OG) Clemson 6-6 330 Undrafted FA
Big guard could be moved to tackle because of size. Very strong and should show that strength at the combine. Good college player that more than likely won’t get drafted but should be on a 52 man roster come September.
Kevious Watkins (#25 OG) South Carolina 6-4 320 Undrafted FA
I didn’t see anything from Watkins this season that made him stand out to me but a good combine should get him noticed. He needs to show up strong and show good technique. OG can help themselves out a lot if they can prove too versatile.
I only see 1-2 offensive players from the Carolinas going in the 1st round of the draft but the defensive players of the Carolinas could shine. With projected NFL starters at each position and the top 3 DE/OLB on my board this class is good.
Antonio Allen (#2 SS) South Carolina 6-1 202 Late 2nd Rd
Undersized for a prototypical NFL safety he will need to improve his fundamentals at the next level. The talent is there and he should shine. Fast enough to cover tight and a good enough hitter to knock the ball loose. A fast time in the 40 and good drills could move him up some.
Stephon Gilmore (#6 CB) South Carolina 6-1 194 2nd Rd
A player that I feel should have stayed in school another year but he decided to come out. Good size and ball skills but does not have the speed to play CB in the NFL. He will be moved to safety where his lack of speed will be protected. His aggressiveness will help him at the next level.
Josh Norman (#7 CB) Coastal Carolina 6-0 203 2nd Rd
I love this guy. He shined at the East/West Shrine game and probably impressed more than anyone else. He has a safety body with cornerback skills. Great reverse gear and will go after the ball. He may become the best pro CB of this entire draft.
Charles Brown (#27 CB) UNC 5-9 207 6th Rd
Will be a better pro return man than a DB because of size. Doesn’t have elite speed but he is fast enough. He is very strong for a CB and shows toughness. Will need to be used in a zone scheme instead of man to man at the next level.
Coty Sensabaugh (#39 CB) Clemson 6-0 185 Undrafted FA
Coty is fast enough to cover man to man in the NFL but lacks the strength and size to be an effective tackler now. If he gets bigger and stronger he could move to a starter role down the road but right now he is a special teamer if he makes a squad.
Christian Thompson (#9 FS) SC State 6-1 205 6th-7th Rd
Very fast and has a good body for an NFL safety. If he has a good combine and I think he will he will move into the 6th Rd. Will cover after the ball and knock it down. Will be a hitter also.
Cyhl Quarles (#10 SS) Wake Forest 6-2 210 7th Rd
Will be a run stopper in the pros. Great strong safety body that will lay the lumber to runners and will try to separate the ball from them. High motor and he doesn’t quick. Has the right qualities physically and mentally that pro scouts look for.
DeAndre Pressley (#45 CB) App State 5-10 177 Undrafted FA
Runs and sub 4.4 40 but is very undersized for the pro game. May get on as a special teamer but will be hard to crack lineup as CB at next level.
Audie Cole (#3 ILB) NC State 6-4 239 3rd Rd
Great instincts help make up for his lack of speed and flexibility. Goes and gets it. Has a nose for the ball and makes tackles. Decent in coverage but needs to improve at next level.
Brandon Thompson (#5 DT) Clemson 6-2 310 Early 2nd
Very quick off the ball. Very good at playing gaps and disrupting. Doesn’t have the size to hold up against double teams but what he doesn’t give in tackles he makes up for in taking up blockers. Could rise into the 1st Rd but I think early 2nd is where his name will be called.
Marcus Kuhn (#21 DT) NC State 6-4 305 5th Rd
Runs a sub 5 40 and for a DT that is very good. Good height and speed will make him a solid rush DT in a 4-3 D. Very strong and can overpower interior lineman at the snap. I think he will be a very solid pro at the next level.
Travian Robertson (#22 DT) South Carolina 6-4 305 7th Rd
Passes the looks test but plays sloppy. He will need to change that if he wants to work at the next level. But size will get him drafted. It will be up to him to stay on a team.
Justin Sweezy (#30 DT) NC State 6-5 293 Undrafted FA
Good size and speed for gap DT or 3-4 DE in the NFL. Strong upper body will be someone to watch during the bench press at the combine. Small lower body will hurt him but he has a place in the league due to his work ethic.
Rennie Moore (#37 DT) Clemson 6-4 270 Undrafted FA
Too small to play DT in the pros but may have a fit at a 3-4 DE where his speed will help him. Very fast off the ball and can pursue down the line. Will take some time to get stronger but should and then he may play more on Sundays.
Tydreke Powell (#40 DT) UNC 6-2 309 Undrafted FA
Powell is very confusing to me. He is athletic but if he gets stoned at the line he tends to give up. If I see this then I am sure pro scouts have. I really don’t know why he is even invited to the combine.
These next 3 guys are the best DE/OLB this draft has to offer. I place them together because the pro game is more flexible.
Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers:
Quinton Coples (#1 DE) UNC 6-6 285 Top 10 Pick
Coples has more upside maybe than anyone in the draft but the questions he faces are about his drive. He has been known to take plays off and not give 100% at all times. But if you can look past that he is the most talented player in this draft. He will be pass rush DE like another UNC product Julius Peppers.
Melvin Ingram (#2 DE) South Carolina 6-2 276 Top 15 Pick
Finds the ball and creates havoc. Will play end, tackle, OLB in the pros. Great hands and speed he should be high on most draft boards. Has the intangible that scouts love and will make a great pro.
Andre Branch (#3 DE) Clemson 6-4 260 1st Rd
Good off the line quickness and pursuit. Very good tackler but has trouble with double teams. Will need to improve strength at the next level. 3-4 OLB looks like his position at the next level.
Zach Brown (#5 DE) UNC 6-2 230 1st Rd
More of a country singer than a NFL prospect but we will go over him. Has ELITE speed and athleticism. May be limited in positions in the NFL but his natural ability will keep him in the lineup.
Terrell Manning (#12 OLB) NC State 6-3 224 4th Rd
Has got size and speed for a 4-3 OLB. Can cover TEs well enough and will go after the ball. Will be a rotational player it the next level.
Kyle Wilber (#13 OLB) Wake Forest 6-4 240 4th Rd
Had a very good East/West Shrine Bowl week and showed a lot to the scouts. Has no quit in him and will pursue the ball carrier nonstop. Long limbs and speed set him up to play a hybrid OLB/DE in the NFL.
Donte Paige-Moss (#15 DE) UNC 6-4 260 7th Rd
Discipline problems will hurt him with pro scouts. Good size and speed but will have to show a different attitude to get to the next level.
These are the guys from the Carolinas. If there is anyone else you want to see just shoot me a comment and I will reply. Thanks for reading.