INDIANAPOLIS — For the second straight season, a total of 337 college players were invited to the NFL’s annual scouting combine in 2020.
Sure just about every single player wants to prove they belong in the NFL. But there are a few of those players who have even more to prove.
Here are 10 of them:
QB Jordan Love, Utah State
While the top three quarterbacks in this class are expected to be Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, a good showing from Love at the combine can propel him into the first round. As a subdivision player, of course Love has something to prove. Love (6-4, 224) had a solid showing at Senior Bowl and will have an opportunity for a big week in Indy.
WR KJ Hamler, Penn State
Hamler measured in at 5-8 5/8 and 178 pounds. That size might scare some teams away but Hamler can do a ton to relieve those fears by running a blazing-fast time in the 40-yard dash later in the week. And while 178 is light, he’s 12 pounds heavier than Marquise Brown was at the combine in 2019. And as long as Hamler proves that he can be a deep threat, teams will be very interested.
DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
At 6-6, 280, Epenesa piled up over 20 sacks in the last couple seasons but he might not be a top-tier athlete. His performance in on-field drills could go a long way in locking up a first-round grade from many teams.
WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado
There are a few reasons to be intrigued by Shenault’s combine. First, he’s coming off a groin injury so he’ll need to show he’s healthy. And his measurements (6-0, 227) make Shenault an interesting body type. He has a very similar body to Tennessee's A.J. Brown (6-0, 226) from last year’s combine, which certainly isn’t a bad thing after Brown’s rookie season. But the most important thing is probably what NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah brought up on a conference call last week. We all expect Shenault to show up big from a physical standpoint but Jeremiah said he wanted to see if Shenault can run a full route tree. At Colorado, they really utilized Shenault’s athleticism and got the ball in his hands but we can see how polished he is this week.
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
At 6-3, 216, Higgins is definitely a long-strider. But this week I’m really curious to see his 40 time and his agility for being such a tall receiver. He will likely be one of six or possibly even seven first-round receivers.
OL Mekhi Becton, Louisville
He’s a giant. At 6-7, 369 pounds, it’ll be fascinating to see how Becton performs in the on-field tests. With a good showing, it’s very possible he’ll become the first offensive lineman taken this spring. With a bad showing, I think he’ll scare some teams away if there are already concerns about his weight.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The concerns with Tua are really from a medical perspective, so we won’t be able to see those results with our own eyes. But you can bet any team that is seriously thinking about drafting him this spring will be giving him a very close look medically.
WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
It seems like Reagor has been hitting the weight room. He measured in at 5-10, 206 pounds for the combine, about 10 pounds heavier than expected. He’s a versatile player but NFL coaches will need to figure out how they’d use him in their offenses. He should put up some impressive numbers and if he does, he could be a riser on draft boards. He has some explosion that should show up in tests.
DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State
At Boise, Weaver had an incredibly productive college career with 34 sacks in three seasons, but will it translate? Basically, he was productive in college but will he show enough athleticism and explosion to prove to teams that he can be an elite player at the next level? I’d also want to see him go through drills with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end. That would increase his value league-wide.
CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
A few key questions about Fulton heading into the combine. One is about his year-long suspension in 2017 when he provided someone else’s urine for a drug test. He’ll be asked about that a few dozen times this week. And then there’s the question of his speed. Fulton is a potential first-round pick but his deep speed is a question mark, so watch his 40. He’s one of several potential first-round cornerbacks.
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