1. Kiper: Five big questions for teams entering the combine
1. Could Houston's plans change with a great workout from Jadeveon Clowney or Greg Robinson? Maybe. I don't think it'll change their priorities, but it could help them shift demand. The best thing that can happen for Houston is for all the top players to have amazing workouts. Clowney and Robinson are No. 1 and No. 2 on my Big Board, respectively, not just because they are great players, but because I already know they are great athletes. Same for many teams. But if the workouts serve to do more, and if teams find them even more attractive as prospects coming out of Indy, Houston has greater trade leverage. The better everyone looks, the better it is to hold the No. 1 pick.
2. Any reason to think the Rams are looking at a QB at No. 2? No. The Rams need to take another step forward in 2014 given the personnel they have -- they have a lot of good players -- and there's no reason to believe a rookie starter at QB gives them a better chance in the NFC West than Sam Bradford, regardless of Bradford's up-and-down career so far. General manager Les Snead is likelier to trade the pick to someone who covets a QB than draft one himself in that slot.
3. Are the Jaguars trying to decide on a QB at No. 3? I'll put it this way: I think they're taking a really good look at this QB class. I think they'll do a lot of work on Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater and decide if one or more of those can be a good long-range solution. That said, I think they'll do work on a number of QBs in this class, and it's still 50/50 if they draft their new QB at No. 3, because the new front office has shown me they want to take great football players, and I don't think they'll draft a QB if they have many players rated higher.
4. Should the Browns trade up in order to get their franchise QB? No. I realize that Cleveland needs a QB they feel they can build around, but I don't think you trade up from that high of a draft slot unless you have a certain upgrade at the position for the immediate future. This draft doesn't offer that promise.
5. Will the Raiders have the chance to take one of the top three QBs? If I had to bet, then yes, I think they will have the chance. But the Raiders are a team that should look to trade down, too. Just because a QB is there doesn't mean they draft one. They have needs all over the place.
2. McShay: Handicapping the race to be draft's fastest player
There is always some debate over who owns the fastest-ever 40 time in the history of the combine, as to whether it's Darrell Green or Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. The more recent success stories are well-documented, however. Here's a look at the fastest 40-yard dash times in every year dating back to 2005:
Year Pos. Player 40-time School Drafted Round
2005 CB Fabian Washington 4.29 Nebraska Raiders 1
2006 CB Tye Hill 4.30 Clemson Rams 1
2007 WR/RS Yamon Figurs 4.30 Kansas State Ravens 3
2008 RB Chris Johnson 4.24 East Carolina Titans 1
2009 WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 4.30 Maryland Raiders 1
2010 WR Jacoby Ford 4.28 Clemson Raiders 4
2011 CB Demarcus Van **** 4.37 Miami (FL) Raiders 3
2012 CB Josh Robinson 4.33 UCF Vikings 3
2013 WR Marquise Goodwin 4.27 Texas Bills 3
Who will win the title this season? Here are my top eight contenders, listed in alphabetical order:
Dri Archer, RB, Kent State: Injuries limited Archer this past season, but there's no questioning his explosiveness. He averaged 8.6 yards per carry over the last two seasons, and some consider him to be on De'Anthony Thomas' level in terms of speed and quickness.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: He emerged as a big-play threat in 2013, averaging 19.5 yards per catch and scoring eight touchdowns. He has very good initial burst and good top-end speed.
Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming: He is a smaller-school burner who averaged 15.5 yards per catch over the past two years.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC: If Lee's 40 time matches up with the speed and explosiveness we see from him on tape, he'll be a contender. He's a big-time vertical threat who can take the top off a defense.
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida: He's still a bit of a project as a cornerback, but he is a very good natural athlete with very good top-end speed.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: Roby struggled with his discipline early on in the season, but he improved as the season went along, and his athleticism stands out on tape. He could climb up draft boards with a good 40 time.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon: I don't know if I've ever seen a prospect look faster in a live game situation with the ball in his hands than Thomas. He's also a track guy, and was a Division I All-American in 2013 as the anchor leg of Oregon's 4x100-meter relay team.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: The top-ranked wide receiver prospect in our rankings, Watkins has elite acceleration and outstanding top-end speed on tape.
3. Kiper: Top five questions for players entering the combine
[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Jarvis Landry could see his stock rise after the Combine.
1. Will Clowney make himself irresistible at No. 1 by his combine workout? No. He is worthy of No. 1, but his great athletic traits are well known. Houston should hope someone else sees him as irresistible at No. 1, and offers them the moon to take him there. (Houston may prefer just to take him, of course.)
2. Do you really care that much about Mike Evans' 40 time? Yes. I had a friend in one front office tell me he feels Evans has the best ball skills he's seen in 20 years. I won't go that far, but If Evans shows off mid-4.4 speed, we'll have teams debating the top wide receiver in this draft between him and Watkins.
3. Which player could go from second-round status to the first round with a strong Combine workout? I'll give you three. Jarvis Landry, WR from LSU; Kelcy Quarles, DT/DE from South Carolina; Dee Ford, edge rusher from Auburn. There could be more, but those come to mind.
4. Your pick for biggest combine freak overall? I'll give you two. On offense, I think UNC tight end Eric Ebron could be a size/speed freak. On defense, I'll go with Khalil Mack.
5. Does Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger have a better chance to be an NFL starter? Mettenberger. When they are both healthy, Mettenberger simply has the superior arm, and despite less experience, is Murray's equal or better when it comes to anticipation, ball placement and polish.
4. McShay: Measuring up the top players, by position
Measurements and test results are far from the only factors that NFL teams will consider when evaluating a prospect, as what a player shows on tape in terms of his production and athleticism has the most significant impact on where a player is drafted.
But how a prospect tests out still matters, which is why this year's class will be measured and tested in the following areas at the combine: height, weight, arm length, hand size, bench press, 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle, 3-cone drill and wing span.
See below for the average measurements and test scores in each of those categories over the last five years -- you can use these numbers as a reference point when watching this year's prospects go through drills the next few days.
Pos HT WT Arm Hand Bench 10 40 VJ BJ 20 3-C Wing
OG 6040 314.5 33 1/2 9 7/8 26.5 1.85 5.35 27 08'03" 4.83 7.81 79 1/2
OT 6054 314.9 34 1/8 10 3/8 25.0 1.83 5.29 28 08'05" 4.80 7.81 81 1/2
OC 6032 304.5 32 5/8 9 5/8 27.7 1.84 5.33 27 08'02" 4.70 7.74 77 3/4
TE 6041 251.3 33 1/4 9 3/4 21.1 1.66 4.77 33 09'07" 4.39 7.09 78 3/4
QB 6030 223.7 32 1/8 9 5/8 17.3 1.69 4.88 31 1/2 09'03" 4.34 7.08 76 1/2
WR 6006 202.5 32 9 1/4 14.8 1.58 4.54 35 1/2 10'00" 4.24 6.90 75 5/8
RB 5103 213.2 31 9 1/4 20.4 1.60 4.60 35 09'09" 4.27 7.00 73 1/2
FB 6010 243.0 31 7/8 9 5/8 23.7 1.66 4.84 33 1/2 09'05" 4.40 7.23 75 1/2
DE 6034 266.4 33 5/8 9 7/8 24.8 1.69 4.87 33 09'05" 4.45 7.21 80 1/2
DT 6026 306.4 33 3/8 9 7/8 28.7 1.77 5.13 29 1/2 08'08" 4.66 7.64 79 1/2
ILB 6012 242.0 32 1/8 9 1/2 22.4 1.66 4.81 33 1/2 09'07" 4.32 7.10 76 5/8
OLB 6015 239.7 32 3/8 9 5/8 22.7 1.64 4.74 34 1/2 09'10" 4.33 7.14 77 3/8
DS 6001 209.7 31 7/8 9 3/8 18.1 1.62 4.63 35 1/2 10'01" 4.22 6.96 75 7/8
DC 5110 193.1 31 1/2 9 1/8 14.9 1.60 4.56 35 1/2 10'01" 4.15 6.88 74 3/8
For our latest rankings of the top prospects at every position entering the combine, access the links below:
McShay: Top 32 | Kiper: Big Board | NFL Draft Tracker | Kiper: Top 10s by position
5. Kiper: Top five workout questions entering the Combine
1. Which measurement has become more important? Hand size for QBs. We're past the age of the "prototype" QB who has to be a certain height and weight. Many value other traits just as much, particularly athleticism. But you have to be able to grip the ball and drive it down the field either in the pocket or on the move, and hand size matters in that regard. You don't have to be a giant, but there's a minimum threshold you have to meet.
2. 40-yard dash: Your pick to be the fastest player here? I like several of the picks Todd made above. Archer, from Kent State, can fly. Roby from Ohio State and Purifoy of Florida could be at or near the top among corners, and if Oregon's Thomas gets a great jump, watch out. A sleeper pick might be Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk.
3. QB passing drills: Do they matter? No. It's nice to see a kid compete, but if you're reading a lot into a QB throwing certain routes to unfamiliar targets in an unfamiliar setting, you're reading too closely.
4. What's a "hot" measurement right now? An accurate measurement. Seriously -- every year guys go up and down 20 pounds or grow or shrink an inch based on previous listings. I know a lot about players through watching the tape, and talking to coaches and other evaluators at all levels. But you don't have accurate measurements until the combine, so those are the No. 1 thing I take from this. It's nice to verify.
5. What workout at the combine will matter most to the QB class? Interviews. There isn't a near-perfect QB prospect in this class. Teams need to believe these quarterbacks will put in the time to make themselves great.
6. McShay: Biggest combine snubs for 2014
While the National Invitation Camp Selection Committee does a very good job of targeting most of the top prospects in a given class for that year's combine, there are inevitably a few to fall through the cracks each year. Approximately 10 percent of the players selected in the draft every year are not invited, and occasionally a star will emerge from this "non-combine" group.
In 2012, OG Brandon Brooks (Miami-OH) was our highest-rated snub and he wound up drafted by the Texans in Round 3. Last year, Vince Williams (Florida State) was our top-rated combine snub, and the Steelers wound up drafting the inside linebacker in the sixth round.
Which prospects were snubbed this season? Here's our top 10:
1. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
2. Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
3. Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
4. Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse
5. Robert Nelson, CB, Arizona State
6. Trey Hopkins, G, Texas
7. Derrell Johnson, OLB, East Carolina
8. Brett Van Sloten, OT, Iowa
9. Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin
10. Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue