The NFL combine is, in a sense, the last chance for 300 aspiring NFL athletes. Most of these athletes have played football their entire lives, but will now be judged on seven days of work that won’t include a single snap.
Many players have already locked up a spot in the draft, and others have solidified themselves in the first round.
But some have something left to prove.
For some athletes, first-round hopes have been diminished, and they have just a week to convince scouts they belong.
One such player is former USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley. Once touted as a possible number one pick, Barkley has plummeted down draft boards faster than the stock market on Black Friday. Barkley had a fantastic year in 2011, completing just shy of 70% of his passes and throwing 39 touchdown passes. He will have to find that talent and show it at the combine if he wants to stay in the first round.
Moving to the defensive side of the ball, Michigan State defensive end William Gholston was once thought to be a first round talent. After recording only 4.5 sacks in 2012 and making little impact on a very good defense, Gholston has seen his stock drop drastically. He’s a physical freak, and with a good combine could move up into the second day of the draft (2nd or 3rd round).
Lastly comes a player that certainly didn’t underachieve in 2012, but rather had a breakout season. West Virginia Mountaineers wideout Stedman Bailey needs to put a nice combine together to solidify his spot as a top pass-catcher. Bailey had a monster 2012 for the Mountaineers, catching 114 balls for 1,622 yards and a whopping 25 scores. Bailey had a remarkable season, but is still rated by many as a third-round talent. With a good combine, Bailey can show scouts that he can make an impact in the NFL right away, and possibly vault into the second or even first round.
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