NFL Combine: Five major prospects to keep an eye on

We’ve covered the ins and outs of the NFL Scouting Combine, and now we’re ready for the action. Who are some top names to look out for over the next week?

Lamar Jackson, quarterback

He might be this year’s most polarising prospect, with calls for him to move to receiver based on his smaller build and low completion percentage in college (57 percent). However, while he may need work to improve as a passer (as most young prospects do), his athleticism should not be held against him. Expect Jackson to light up the combine with his speed and strong arm, and impress teams in interviews. If he does, he could end up in the top half of the first round.

Vita Vea, defensive tackle

Way back in 2012, defensive tackle Dontari Poe had an amazing Combine performance that catapulted him up to the 11th overall pick and top DT taken. Poe put up 44 reps in the bench press and ran a 4.98-second 40-yard dash. Supposedly, Vea has been timed at around the 4.8 mark. If he can run this fast and come close to 40 reps in the bench press, he could make himself some money.

Derrius Guice, running back

The bruising back has been caught on video squatting a whopping 650 pounds. He’s going to be a handful for defenders at the next level, and he’ll likely prove his explosiveness with strong performances in the strength testing and jumps. But don’t think he won’t shine with straight-line speed, as his 40 time could also turn heads.

Derwin James, safety

When NFL decision-makers feast their eyes on the physical specimen in Indianapolis and see what he can do (he’s known to have jumped 41 inches in the vertical jump and bench-pressed 450 pounds), they won’t be able to resist on draft day. It’ll be exciting to watch the former Florida State Seminole put on a show.

Saquon Barkley, running back

The 21-year-old is notorious for his work in the weight room (his great uncle was former boxing champion Iran ‘The Blade’ Barkley) and has already run a 4.33 40-yard dash in preparation for the event. It’s not hard to find videos of him squatting 525 pounds five times, or bench-pressing 225 30 times on social media, and he could make this whole event look easy. If there’s one player to watch at the Combine, it’s Barkley, who performs on Friday.

Don’t forget the cornerbacks

Okay, I’m cheating by adding a few more names. But according to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, three cornerbacks – Donte Jackson from LSU, Denzel Ward from Ohio State, and Tony Brown from Alabama – have the best shot at breaking the 4.22-second 40-yard dash record set by John Ross in 2017. All three have sprinter speed, and could help themselves rise up draft boards with blistering runs on Monday.

In recent seasons, Obi Melifonwu and Bryon Jones have shown defensive backs are freaks of nature with their speed and explosiveness. Could a player from this year’s group do the same?

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