We all know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will most likely draft Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick, but the rest of the draft is up for grabs.
All the top prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft will be there (with a few choosing to only workout at their college’s pro day) and many will see a change in their draft stock. A player can drastically change their round projection with an outstanding performance.
Here are ten players to keep an eye on during the 2015 NFL Draft Combine.
These ten players have the most to gain or lose with their evaluation at the combine.
Dorial Green-Beckham: Wide Receiver (Missouri & Oklahoma) – He hasn’t played football in over a year. After getting kicked off the team at Missouri, he had to sit out all year after he transferred to Oklahoma. He decided to go pro without playing a single snap there. He was considered the best wide receiver and third-best player in his 2012 recruiting class. If he nails the interview and performs well in the drills, he could jump Louisville’s DeVante Parker as the second-best receiver in the draft. Baggage isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re a wide receiver (i.e. Randy Moss & Dez Bryant).
Toddy Gurley: Running Back (Georgia) – Gurley tore his ACL late in the season, but he will be at the combine to get checked out medically and go through with team interviews. Teams are still very high on him, even though he has often been injured during his collegiate career. It’s hard to ignore his production when he’s healthy.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: Cornerback (Oregon) – Ekpre-Olomu is in the same boat as Gurley. They both suffered knee injuries late in the year. Neither will workout, but the medical evaluation is key. Also, Oregon lists him as only being 5’9. The NFL has been trending taller when it comes to cornerbacks. He was a lock to be a first-round pick, but his injury may have dinged him a bit.
Marcus Mariota: Quarterback (Oregon) – Mariota may opt out of doing some of the drills at the combine, since most top quarterbacks tend to wait until their pro day. He sprained his AC joint versus Ohio State in the National Championship game. I would still like to see him run the 40. There are already rumors out there that as many as five teams are looking to trade up in the first round to draft him.
Shane Ray: Defensive End (Missouri) – Ray could drastically upgrade his draft stock with a fast 40-yard dash time. If he proves he has the speed to also play outside linebacker, it opens up the possibility of even more teams drafting him. He could become a top-five pick.
Phillip Dorsett: Wide Receiver (Miami) – Dorsett apparently has the fastest 40-time ever at the University of Miami. He could challenge Chris Johnson’s all-time combine record of 4.24. He’s currently a late-2nd round/early-3rd round pick. If he gets anywhere near 4.24, at the very latest, he’ll go mid-second round. If Al Davis were still alive, he wouldn’t make it out of the first round.
Trae Waynes: Cornerback (Michigan State) – Wayne has already proven he’s a solid corner and can play the run…but he needs to show he can run fast in a straight line. If he has a poor 40-time, Washington’s Marcus Peters could end up leapfrogging him as the best cornerback in the draft.
Paul Dawson: Outside Linebacker (TCU) – If Dawson can prove he can play both inside and outside linebacker, he increases his value. He was a ball hawk at TCU. He has all the tools to be a leader of a defense. He currently has a second round grade, but a strong combine could push him into the first round, but he currently has a lot of talent ahead of him.
Bryce Petty: Quarterback (Baylor) – I want to see Petty run. He could separate himself from the quarterbacks who will actually do the drills. He had flashes of greatness at Baylor. He is currently slated to be taken somewhere in the middle rounds, but teams fall in love with quarterbacks. A strong showing could rocket him up.
Jesse James: Tight End (Penn State) – Minnesota’s Maxx Williams is the best tight end in this draft…by far. James could open eyes with his size. He’s the tallest of the group at the combine at 6’7. He has been dinged due to his lack of athleticism. Now is his chance to prove his naysayers wrong.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.