Commentary

In line for an NFL combine boost

Players who could solidify or really see their stock jump at the NFL combine this week

Updated: February 23, 2011, 3:37 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN.com
Smith/LittleUS PresswireAldon Smith is looking to raise his profile; Greg Little is looking to regain his.

As much as it's become more of an NFL gathering for all kinds of talk rather than a pure prospect-based evaluation period, stock still moves up and down quickly at the NFL combine. For the prospects, as much as it gets downplayed, those 40 times seem to live forever. Guys can increase their strength to a great degree over the next few years, but that 225-pound bench-press total is another thing we always remember.

With that in mind, here's a look at the prospects whom I think have the most to gain this week, notably from a performance standpoint. I tried to focus mainly on the upper half of the draft, because to discuss the possible seventh-round grades that could jump to the middle rounds, and vice versa, would be pretty endless. That said, I also threw in some guys who could move way up. For most of these guys, there's still a chance to jump because there are still questions to answer, both about them and about their peers. So here are guys looking to solidify a first-round grade, and others trying to make a leap.

Solidify a grade

Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
For a guy that's still considered a lock for the top half of the first round, Quinn still needs to show scouts something. After sitting out his junior season, he has some great tape but nothing recent. While his explosiveness jumps off the tape, will he show rust? If Quinn shows well, it'll be proof that he was working hard all year and not taking for granted the fact that he was once a possible No. 1 overall pick.


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst