Key questions for the combine

Teams will seek answers from Te'o, Lattimore, Barkley and more

Originally Published: February 22, 2013
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Manti Te'oKirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsTeams will scrutinze Manti Te'o in interviews, but his time in the 40 may be equally important.

I always hear people downplay the value of the NFL combine, but by doing that they're painting with too broad a brush. Workouts didn't matter much to Andrew Luck last year, but they matter a great deal for a player looking to get the attention of personnel folks by posting a great time. Next thing you know they're going back to the tape, and they're seeing value where they once didn't. For some players, the medical evaluation is the biggest part of the combine. For others, it's all about the interviews, and putting to rest questions teams have about off-field issues.

For other players, the combine is all about measurements, actually confirming your size. You'll see a player listed at 6-foot-4 for four years of college, and he'll leave Indy at 6-2½. You have no idea how much the measurement of a tackle's arms can change the perception among evaluators. Short arms? Could be a guard. Then you have players who are projected high based on the belief they're incredible athletes. If the numbers don't comfirm it, and the tape is just average, you have the makings of a major stock hit.

Different numbers, different themes, different priorities for different players. Here are some categories that will really matter for certain players and questions that teams will be eager to see answered.

The medicals

These players have lingering health concerns teams will want to clear.

Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: He's No. 1 on my current Big Board, and you can be certain that means I'm not worried about how he is medically. But teams will want to confirm that for themselves. Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis while at USC, and teams will want to check on that. Based on what I know, he has nothing to worry about.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: We all know about his knee, and that this isn't his first return from a major injury. But we've seen cases like Willis McGahee before. I wouldn't be surprised if he lands in the third round, but teams still see an impact back if 100 percent.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst