Players who can only hurt their stock:
AJ Green WR Georgia: Unless he runs a 4.1 and looks flawless, his stock can’t improve.
Julio Jones WR Alabama: theoretically, he could run a sub 4.40 and potentially leapfrog Green, but realistically he can’t do anything but hurt his stock in the combine.
Christian Ballard DL Iowa: his physical tools are well known. The question with him is translating his tools on the field. He can only hurt his stock with shaky physical drills.
Sam Acho DL Texas:A lot like Ballard. His physical tools are a known quantity. The question is getting it together on the field more when the pads are on.
Players who need a good combine to be a top 60 pick:
James Carpenter OL Alabama: He had a strong senior bowl and his versatility will be attractive to teams, but he needs to show good physical tools to jump into to the first 2 rounds.
Cliff Matthews DE South Carolina: A prototypical speed rusher, skipping the senior bowl was a bad idea. He needs show amazing speed/quickness to get taken higher than the late 3rd right now.
Lee Ziemba OL Auburn: A lot like Carpenter: great senior bowl and has the tools, scouts are going to specifically be watching him during the 1-on-1 drills to see his footwork/technique.
Jake Locker QB Washington: I think we’ve gone past the point with him where his stock is dropping so fast that he needs to start showing WHY he should be drafted rather than going off his current resume. If he can’t show comfort as a drop back passer, he’s in danger of dropping into the 150-200 pick range.
Greg Jones LB Michigan State:: Started the draft process as a fairly well though of prospect and has just tarnished his stock since then. He needs to show that the senior bowl was fluke with a great all around combine.
Jeremy Beal DL Oklahoma: The biggest enigma in the draft frankly. No one is sure where he’ll play in the NFL, nor if he’s ready for it after his senior bowl. He’s got amazing pass rush skills, but he seems to be lacking the intangibles and pure speed/quickness.
DeMarco Murray RB Oklahoma: A terrible senior bowl is killing him. He could jump back into the discussion for the 3rd or 4th best RB with an amazing combine.
Ryan Mallet QB Arkansas: His stock is about as hot as an Egyptian dictator right now. Off the field issues(drugs and alcohol) and questions about how his game will translate to the pros have knocked him from “top 10 pick” to “maybe 2nd rounder.” He needs to stop thinking that showing off his massive arm will get him anywhere and focus on showing good footwork.
Colin McCarthy LB Miami: He had a good senior bowl and that brought him from “maybe 6th round pick” to maybe 3rd. With a good combine(especially shuttle/40 times) he could sneak into the late 2nd.
Cameron Heyward DL Ohio State:. Its hard to see where he goes right now. Teams seem to prefer JJ Watt’s less upside/more hard working than Heyward’s inconsistency/talent. Having a good combine would help his stock immensely.
Drake Nevis DL LSU: Another one who’s stock is in flux. Teams do like the undersized, faster 1 gappers for the 4-3, but there’s concern that Nevis is a product of LSU’s DLine factory.
Stephen Paea DT Oregon: Another undersized 1 gapper who’s getting lost in the shuffle, he needs to not only look good—he has to outdo Nevis.
Players who with a good combine could jump from the 5th-7th rounds into the top 60:
Greg McElroy QB Alabama: We know he can make the throws, we know he’s a winner, but he needs to work on his ability to deal with a blitz. He should focus on showing a quicker release at the combine.
Ronald Johnson WR Southern Cal: He has the intangibles and I would compare him to Damian Williams from last year(between those two and Steve Smith, its like Southern Cal has a factory for slower, good intangible X Wrs). He needs to show physical ability.
Jacquizz Rodgers RB Oregon State, Noel Devine RB West Virginia, Kendall Hunter RB Oklahoma State, Dion Lewis RB Pittsburgh and Shane Vereen RB California(together): They’re all in the same boat and competing with each other for the same spot in the draft. Beyond just running a great 40 time, they need to show great quickness and athletic ability.
DeMarcus Love OL Arkansas: Dropping like a stone after a poor senior bowl(he could be a 3rd round pick if someone is drafting him as an OG), he needs to work on his footwork/quickness.
Tyrod Taylor QB Virginia Tech: Taylor shouldn’t run the 40 or do the physical drills. He should look to ace the passing drills and wonderlic. If he can do that and show that he can be a pocket passer, his stock will be on fire. He was a runner at college, but unlike Newton, Locker and the other more running QBs, he’s shown pocket presence.
Mike Blanc DL Auburn: He has the talent, there’s no doubt about that. But he has to show conditioning and consistency in the position drills.
Casey Matthews ILB Oregon: I’m a fan of Matthews and hope he gets drafted high, but he needs to show the physical tools in order for that to happen.
Lawrence Wilson OLB Connecticut: He might have to be an ILN in the pros, but Wilson just has “it.” However to get drafted before the 150s, he’s going to have to show physical talent—especially in the shuttle drills.
Jabaal Sheard DE/OLB Pittsburgh: He did have Romeus drawing all the doubles, but he needs to show amazing physical ability to get drafted before round 4. He’s not going to be able to answer the consistency questions at the combine.
Players who need to ace the Wonderlic:
Cam Newton Qb Auburn: If he turns in something that his agent tries to conceal(ala Vince Young), he’s going to drop like a stone.
Colin Kapernick QB Nevada: NFL scouts/GMs want to love him as they see a nearly limitless ceiling with his natural ability. Turning in a 30 or higher on the wonderlic might put him in the top 20 picks.
Christian Ponder QB FSU: Another prospect that the decision makers want to like, especially after his senior bowl. He has the starts and stats, a good wonderlic probably moves him up 20 picks.
Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri: If he posts anything better than a 32 on the wonderlic, he should be a top 3 pick lock. Buffalo shouldn’t be looking at Newton, they should be looking at Gabbert who played in a shotgun heavy passing offense like which they want to run.
Players who need to run a great 40:
Roy Helu Jr RB Nebraska: There’s been a lot of questions about Helu out there and his poor senior bowl did nothing to help him. Posting a sub 4.5 40 would quiet the murmur.
Ryan Kerrigan DL Purdue: He had an up and down Senior Bowl(beating DeMarcus Love regularly looks less impressive in retrospect). He has drive and moves, but if he can’t run fast enough to play RDE or the Elephant OLB spot, he’s going to drop.
Tori Gurley WR South Carolina: At 6-4 240 lbs, if he can run something in the 4.50-4.54 range, a lot of scouts will be interested in him.
Derrick Locke RB Kentucky: He had a good senior bowl ad turned some heads with good one cut ability, he needs to build on that with a solid 40 times to firm up his stock.
Leonard Hankerson WR Miami: We know he can play with the pads on—perhaps inconsistently so—but a good 40 time solidifies his stock as the 3rd WR behind Jones/Green.
Daniel Thomas RB Kansas State: The Tori Gurley of RBs. He’s big and can play the position, but a good 40 time will be required if he wants to be drafted in the top 100. A great 40 time puts him in the 2nd round.
Kendric Burney CB UNC: Right now, he’s a good slot/zone CB prospect(the Brandon Flowers comparison is pretty right on imo), but if he can show good speed(4.45 or faster) he’ll shoot up the draft boards.
John Clay RB Wisconsin: At the very least, he should be a good power back. If he can run anything better than the 4.7ish he’s been running he could shoot up boards.
Jonathan Baldwin WR Pittsburgh: If he runs anything faster than a 4.5, he’s a first round pick.
Randall Cobb WR Kentucky: His game in the NFL is going to be completely about elusiveness and speed. He’s going to have to hit the corner at full speed to get around defenses, running something in the 4.3 range(especially with a good shuttle time) will make Scouts/Gms more likely to take him high.
Greg Little WR North Carolina: He hasn’t played in a year, so the scouts will want to see that he didn’t spend his year off playing X-Box. At 6-2 220, running anything better than his usual 4.55ishs will help him dramatically.
Bilal Powell RB Louisville: He had a very strong senior bowl showing the kind of drive/push as a runner that teams look for. His only red flag is straight-line speed.
Players with a lot of question marks:
Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson: putting aside my opinions on him, his game is all about speed/quickness. He’s not like Jared Allen or other LDEs who are tall with good speed, he’s shorter and heavier, so he needs to be faster than most LDEs to compensate for his squatness(if he’s going to move to RDE, he’s going to have to be even faster). I find it very curious that his agent is already talking about some “minor knee procedure” that he had in mid January. I have a feeling that this is pre-spin for a bad 40 time since Bowers could be chunking up. If he runs anything slower than a 4.75-4.8 40, the drop begins.
Cedric Thorton DL Central Arkansas: Very few scouts ever saw him play outside of youtube clips, so his raft stock is almost entirely going to be based on his combine. If he smokes it, he could be a 2nd day pick.
Nate Solder OT Colorado: Physically, he’s an amazing prospect. On the field is another story. I think that he could easily slide 30 picks from where he’s being projected going just based on his senior bowl performance. If he has a subpar combine, the drop could be even more dramatic.
Anthony Castonzo OT Boston College: Another player who had a so-so senior bowl. In short, he needs to show that he’s a left tackle and not a left guard like he did in the senior bowl.
Marvin Austin DL UNC: He hasn’t played in a year, but unlike Bob Quinn, the scouts aren’t really sure what his draft stock is or what exactly his talent is. He still was a project when he lasted played for UNC and nothing changed. The NFL’s take on him is going to be very dependent that they see at the combine.
Terrance Toliver WR LSU: You know the talent is there, but he can lose focus when its not an important part of the game. He might one of those players who doesn’t look good in practice, but puts it together when it matters.
Greg Romeus DE Pittsburgh: Major injury red flags, but he’s going to go through the combine anyways. If he posts strong numbers, his stock will soar. He was a great technical right defensive end with great physical tools.
Gabe Carimi OL Wisconsin: Missing the actual senior bowl with an injury puts a lot of his draft stock on his combine appearance. He could also use prospects like Castonzo and Solder to tank the combine to help his stock.
Lawrence Guy DL Arizona State: An enigma. Some say he’s a 5 tech, some say he’s a 4-3 DT. There’s also a split on whether or not he’s a physical freak or a polished prospect. Frankly, I think that most of this is guesswork on scouts/pundits’ parts and they need to see him in the flesh in Indy.
Kelvin Sheppard ILB LSU: You look at his physical tools and wonder why he can’t put it together more. I’m sure he’ll ace the physical drills at the combine, but he needs to ace the interviews/wonderlic.
Robert Sands FS West Virginia Normally players with this amazing combo of physical tools are top 15 picks. He might get there, but I worry about why he’s only seen as a 2nd rounder. Decision makers might overlook this if he posts a sub 4.45 40 though.