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7 Biggest Winners of 2014 NFL Scouting Combine

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7 Biggest Winners of 2014 NFL Combine

NFL Combine 2014 NFL Draft
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years, the NFL Scouting Combine has been billed as a make-or-break event for prospects with questions heading into Indianapolis. Some players come in with off-the-field issues while others enter with concerns about a lack of speed, elite arm strength, athleticism or even injury issues. Others arrive with a point to prove to the doubters wrong as they are tailor made to completely tear up the event with off the charts physical skills that will test well in any environment.

This particular collection of players entering the 2014 NFL Draft is intended to highlight those players who impressed at the spectacle in Indy and vaulted up many draft boards in the process. Whether it was a pleasantly unexpected timed speed or just out of this world athleticism that wowed scouts, several players really made themselves some money.

It’s hard to truly put too much stock into how fast a player is in spandex versus the full gear required on Sundays, but the fact that everyone is on a level playing field at the Combine at least provides perspective on a comparative basis. If two players of very similar builds test and one has a much better timed speed than the other, it seems safe to say that the speedier player without pads will maintain that superiority once the gear is added to the equation.

There are a number of reasons why the following five players really jumped up draft boards during the four-day event in Indy, but the pleasant results for each of them will yield the same results: More money. Check out these seven winners from the NFL Combine who will all have fatter bank accounts as a result of their stellar performances.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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7. Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State

Dri Archer 2014 NFL Draft
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Any team would be interested in having Darren Sproles in the backfield, and that’s exactly what Dri Archer will offer at the next level. His ridiculous 4.26 40-yard dash time showed his explosive speed, and the film on him only underscores that potential as a Sproles 2.0 player with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make guys miss once he gets it in his hands. Some were concerned about whether Archer would even get drafted despite his production at Kent State, but now he may even sneak into the end of day two.

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6. Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota

Brock Vereen 2014 NFL Draft
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Bloodlines are always in the discussion when it comes to projecting NFL players, and Brock Vereen has that working in his favor. His brother Shane plays for the New England Patriots while his dad Henry was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once upon a time. Reports say that teams loved him in interviews, and his strong workouts with a 4.47 time in the 40 (second-best among safeties) and 25 reps on the bench press (best among safeties) could propel him into the second-round conversation come draft day.

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5. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Brandin Cooks 2014 NFL Draft
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brandin Cooks is my new obsession from this year’s draft class, and there is more to this infatuation than just his 4.33 time in the 40. Cooks went through the gauntlet drill at the Combine faster than any receiver and caught balls clean left and right along the way. He shows terrific route-running ability on tape and really exhibits the potential to be a star with the ball in his hands. Some team is going to get an absolute weapon in this kid, and it might just happen in the end of round one thanks to his showing in Indy.

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4. A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State

A.C. Leonard 2014 NFL Draft
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes players with off-the-field baggage can dispel any of those concerns at the combine with sheer athletic prowess, and that’s what former Florida Gators tight end A.C. Leonard did with a 4.43 time in the 40. At 6-foot-2, 252-pounds, he showed he had the ability to excel at the next level if he can keep his head on straight. After having to transfer to Tennessee State to play football when he plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge, this showing may force some team to seriously consider him on the draft’s final day.

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3. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Greg Robinson 2014 NFL Draft
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers alone are staggering enough, but what Greg Robinson did on the field this past season at Auburn only further solidifies his impressive Combine performance. At 6-foot-5, 332-pounds he ran a ridiculous 4.92 time in the 40-yard dash to go along with 32 reps on the bench press. His long arms provide plenty of upside for GMs looking to land a franchise left tackle, and his elite athletic ability only adds on to that potential.

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2. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Mike Evans 2014 NFL Draft
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Some things just don’t add up in your head, and watching a 6-foot-5, 231-pound Mike Evans run a 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash was one of them. He looks even bigger than those measurements entail, and there’s no doubt Evans will thrive as a red zone target at the next level. His speed shows that he won’t just be one-dimensional either, as that ability to get behind the defense and stretch the field will make him a seriously dynamic weapon. It would be a real shock after his showing in Indy if Evans got beyond the midway point of round one.

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1. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Aaron Donald 2014 NFL Draft
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After being the big winner at the Senior Bowl thanks to a dominant performance, Aaron Donald totally backed it up with an equally impressive display at the Combine. A 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash showed some serious speed and explosion while his 35 reps on the bench press showed some brute strength. Clearly the 6-foot, 304-pound Donald is more than just a one-trick pony with his elite athleticism and power to excel in the trenches. He is going to be absolutely dominant in a 4-3 scheme somewhere as a tackle trying to get up the field and wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

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