Nickel Package: Most to gain, prove 

February, 21, 2013

This is it. This is the time for 333 players in Indianapolis to make a positive impression at the NFL scouting combine.

Every year, players come to Indy prepped and ready to perform. By doing so, they impress NFL front offices, scouts and personnel. But there are others who are also hoping to prove (or disprove) the reputations that precede them.

From a former No. 1 in our preseason rankings to a Heisman Trophy runner-up who's trying to rebuild his reputation, here are five guys with the most to gain and five guys with the most to prove at the '13 combine

Most to gain

USC QB Matt Barkley (Scouts Inc. grade: 85)

He won't throw at the combine, and that's not a big deal. It's rare for a QB to improve his stock by throwing the ball at the combine. Barkley doesn't have elite physical tools. The reason he's considered a late-first-round, early-second-round pick is because of what he brings to the table. The area where he excels is his knowledge and understanding of the game.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Kirby Lee/US PresswireMatt Barkley could impress NFL GMs and scouts with his football intelligence.
I expect that when he interviews with teams, he's going to kill it in those meetings. From the football intelligence to the reading of coverages to knowing everyone's assignment and responsibility to being able to relate to coaches and talk to them in the language they understand, Barkley should do well.

He doesn't have an exceptional presence, but guys flock to him to a certain degree and he'll carry himself well in Indianapolis throughout the week.

Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson (92)

He still has a lot to learn about the game. He's still developing. There will be a learning curve for him when it comes to NFL routes and reading coverages.

On tape, he has burst you don't see very often. His burst, his explosiveness, his athleticism and his ability to get vertical in a hurry show his natural skills. And with him at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, everyone in attendance is going to have a lot of fun watching this guy go through his workout.

He was a two-time All-American at Hutchinson Community College, and, in his first year at Tennessee, he set the school record with 1,858 all-purpose yards. We can pick apart his routes and he won't be the smoothest interview, and there will be some questions when he leaves those interviews about his understanding of the pro game, but it won't matter. He's going to lock down a spot in the first round after confirming at the combine that he has the athleticism you see on tape.

BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah (91)

His story is pretty well-known by now. He came to America from Ghana and went to BYU to study math. He tried out for the track team, the basketball team and finally the football team. He did very little early in his career, but then started to contribute on special teams. Ansah didn't enter this season as a full-time starter, then he was in the lineup because of an injury and all of a sudden we're talking about him as a first-round pick.

The reason for that is his potential, and in Indianapolis they're going to be able to see it firsthand. He's 6-6 and reportedly will run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.7s. I've heard he has somewhere between a 37- and 39-inch vertical jump. He has also run the 200 meters in 21.89 seconds. Texas' Marquis Goodwin, who's also at the combine, was an All-American in track, and that's close to what he ran the 200 in, and that's a guy who is 175 pounds.

There's a misconception that Ansah is an outside linebacker, but I think he's a perfect fit as a five-technique defensive end. He can stand up and do different things such as dropping into coverage and rushing the quarterback. He has rare versatility and will fit well as a defensive end in a 3-4 front. A team that runs multiple fronts and is creative with its schemes will get the most out of him.