It's that time of year again! The entire NFL world is gathered in Indianapolis this week for the Combine to witness the second greatest football event in sporting history: Rich Eisen's 40 yard dash. With the pleasantries over, let's take a look at who could stand out on offense. The defense players to watch post will come out tomorrow.
Matt Barkley USC Senior - A disastrous 2012 that culminated in injury has tanked his stock out of the first round for some teams. He chose to skip the Senior Bowl, which was a bad decision. The ghost of USC QBs not doing particularly well in the NFL lingers as well. Barkley needs to show that he isn't a glorified Chad Pennington during the passing drills because he was throwing wounded ducks BEFORE he was sidelined with an elbow injury.
Geno Smith West Virginia Senior - Another guy who shouldn't have skipped the Senior Bowl. He would've been the best QB there had he showed up. A somewhat muted finish to the 2012 season after a hot start has raised questions. Smith really struggled in the elements at the Pinstripe Bowl, leaving questions from the cold weather city teams on whether or not he can handle the elements in November and December.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Scott Arizona and Collin Klein Kansas State - both are good athletes with issues in the passing game that needs tons of work. It will be interesting to see what Klein does.
Le'Veon Bell Michigan State Senior - The workhorse back for the Spartans. He needs do well in his 40 time and agility drills to disprove the notion that he's just a typical Big 10 plodder slow of foot. Bell is a very big back coming in at 6'2 244.
Mike James Miami Senior - Another cousin of former Colts great Edge James. He's been a solid contributor at Miami despite some lean times for the Hurricanes. Can he emulate his cousin and wow the scouts? Late Senior Bowl addition after playing the Shrine Game but never got a chance to do much.
Honorable Mentions: Knile Davis Arkansas and Rex Burkhead Nebraska - Davis is the SEC West version of Marcus Lattimore after suffering severe leg injuries that hampered his career. I want to see if those injuries still are lingering or if he's beyond them. Burkhead has finally graduated after seemingly being in college forever.
Marquise Goodwin Texas Senior - The former Olympic track star just might be the one to challenge Chris Johnson's legendary 4.24 40 time. Goodwin had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and would have taken top WR honors had Markus Wheaton not been there with him.
Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech Senior - A lot of heads were turned by Patton at the Senior Bowl during the week. He didn't log a single reception during the game but showed a good route running ability and downfield blocking skills. Let's see if he can keep up his good progress in Indy. Patton showed during the Senior Bowl week that he isn't just a product of now Cal head coach Sonny Dykes' pass happy system.
Honorable Mentions: Denard Robinson Michigan and Cobi Hamilton Arkansas - I'm interested in seeing Robinson's progress into transitioning from a QB to WR. Hamilton will need to carry over his progress from the Senior Bowl to show that he's moved past the doldrums of Arkansas' terrible year much like teammate Tyler Wilson does.
Zach Ertz RS Junior and Levine Toilolo Senior Stanford - Both were huge (literally, Toilolo is 6'8 265 and Ertz is 6'6 250) weapons for the Cardinal offense in 2012 while helping with the transition from the Andrew Luck era. Could I see the Titans dip into the Pac 12 TE pool again? Maybe.
Tyler Eifert RS Junior Notre Dame - The consensus top TE in the class had a down year thanks to a young QB struggling. He couldn't get anything going in the title game as Alabama effectively neutralized the Irish offense. With all that said, he should be pretty good in Indy.
Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan Senior - Can Fisher continue his great Senior Bowl form to challenge Luke Joeckel as the top OT off the board?
Travis Frederick G/C Wisconsin Senior - Is he a guard or center? Frederick is yet another pro ready prospect from the Wisconsin OL factory (seriously they rarely don't have at least 3 guys NFL ready every year).
Larry Warford G Kentucky Senior - Any other year that doesn't involve Chance Warmack being draft eligible, Warford would be the top guard but he's a close second this year. He was a beast at the Senior Bowl, shutting everything down in his path.
Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma Senior - Another Senior Bowl standout that's quickly rising up the boards and with a good Combine, could cement his first round status.
Menelik Watson T/G Florida State Junior - A mountain of a man (6'6 320) that's also very athletic for his size thanks to a basketball background. He's very raw as an OL prospect as he's only recently picked up the sport. Watson has the ability to play either tackle spot and go inside to guard. He was born in Manchester, England and came to America on a junior college basketball scholarship. A fast riser up the boards and should wow in his workouts.