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Insider

Veldheer can hang with the big boys

3/4/2010

The NFL combine isn't about just the big-name prospects. Here are three small-school players who turned some heads in Indianapolis and where their stock is headed:

Hillsdale (Mich.) OT Jared Veldheer (6-foot-8⅛, 312 pounds) -- On film, Veldheer looks fluid and explosive for his size, gets into position quickly when driving defenders off the ball, redirects effortlessly in pass protection and appears comfortable climbing up to the second level. But how big a role did the Division II competition he faced play in his success at the collegiate level? Well, Veldheer eased those concerns with his performance at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game and continued to do so in Indianapolis.

He finished with the fourth-best 40-yard dash time (5.09 seconds), the third-best vertical jump (33.5 inches), the fifth-best broad jump (9 feet, 1 inch) and the ninth-best bench press (32 repetitions at 225 pounds) among the offensive linemen at the combine. Veldheer also tied for the best three-cone drill (7.4 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.51 seconds) times, showing off his quick feet and balance. The one concern is that his arms are shorter than expected for his height, but they still are 33 inches long. Veldheer is unlikely to move up our draft board too far because the tackles ahead of him also performed well for the most part, but he's made the most of his postseason opportunities and shown that he is a good value in the third round.

James Madison DE Arthur Moats (6-0¼, 246) -- Moats worked out with the defensive ends and finished with the third-fastest 40 time at 4.66 seconds. His size will necessitate a move to outside linebacker in the NFL, but his 40 time would have been among the top 10 at that position, too. Moats is an explosive pass-rusher with above-average closing speed on film, and he delivers big hits when he gets to the quarterback.

There's also a lot to like about his 33¾-inch arms. Moats can get his hands up in passing windows and keep blockers off his frame. And while he lacks ideal hip fluidity, Moats is capable of rerouting tight ends at the line of scrimmage and he looked agile enough at the combine to hold his own in underneath coverage. At this point, he projects as a late-fourth or early-fifth round pick.

Missouri State TE Clay Harbor (6-02¾, 252) -- Harbor clearly has the natural ability to play in the NFL. His 30 reps on the bench press were tops among TEs, and he finished second in the vertical (40) and broad (10-0) jumps. He also clocked a 4.69 in the 40. Harbor showed he can compete with the big boys by playing well in Missouri State's season opener against Arkansas last year and in this year's East-West Shrine Game. A late addition to the Shrine Game, Harbor caught three passes for 22 yards and did a nice job of working the middle of the field. The tight end class is deep and versatile, but Harbor should move up into the sixth round following his showing in Indianapolis.