The NFL’s top prospects gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium over the past week to participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. The first opportunity for many potential draftees to showcase their raw talent in front of NFL scouts.
As always, some prospects stole the show and others failed to impress. Here is our list of prospects who stood out and those who flopped.
DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)
Entering the combine, all eyes were on defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but it was Aaron Donald who outshined Clowney. Some scouts believe that Donald is undersized at 6 feet, 285 pounds but he silenced many doubters with his combine performance. Donald ran a 4.68 40-yard dash, had a 32-inch vertical jump and put up 32 reps in the 225-pound bench press.
With his dazzling display, Donald has upped his stock to a mid-first round pick.
CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) and CB Jason Verrett (TCU)
As wide receivers become stronger and faster, athletic defensive backs have become increasingly more desirable.
Justin Gilbert put himself on the map during the combine. Gilbert showcased great speed by running a 4.37 40-yard dash. Gilbert really stood out in the position drills. “He looked fluid in his transitions and turns while also exhibiting a quick and efficient backpedal,” NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks said.
Gilbert’s performance has put him in the conversation as a potential top-10 pick.
Already projected as a top defensive back in this year’s draft, Jason Verrett confirmed his standing with a great combine performance. Verrett ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, had a 39-inch vertical jump and showed off his athletic ability during his positional drills.
QB Blake Bortles (UCF)
Considered a hybrid quarterback, the spotlight was fixed on Blake Bortles as quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel chose not to throw at the combine.
Bortles didn’t disappoint. The big man displayed a smooth release and great footwork.
Although he wasn’t perfect - Bortles was late on a few passes and had some issues with the seven-step drop - his performance was enough to bring him into the conversation to be drafted by the Houston Texans with the first overall selection.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama)
Entering the combine, Cyrus Kouandijo was projected to be a first round draft pick but he failed his combine physical because of a knee injury. His 40 time was one of the lowest of the offensive tackles and he struggled during positional drills.
This was a huge blow to Kouandijo’s draft stock. Kouandijo will have a chance at redemption during Alabama’s pro day on March 12th.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
Ranked as high as number one on draft boards, Teddy Bridgewater is considered the most polished quarterback in this year’s draft. But Bridgewater’s decision to forego most of the quarterback drills at the combine has caused scouts to question his ability.
Bridgewater will have a chance to prove himself when he goes through quarterback drills at Louisville’s pro day.
DE/OLB Michael Sam (Missouri)
Michael Sam gained worldwide attention after his recent coming-out. However, Sam didn’t impress during his combine workout. Sam ran a 4.91 40-yard dash and only jumped 25.5 in the vertical.
Sam was obviously frustrated during the combine but he seems to be prepared for the next level. “I’m a pass rusher," Sam said. "If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback.”
Sam will attempt to raise his draft stock at Missouri’s pro day.