At the intersection of college and NFL football lies a preview event unlike any other – the NFL Combine. This weekend, over 300 prospects will gather in Indianapolis to showcase their talents, and personalities, in hopes of woo’ing scouts from across the NFL. But the scouts aren’t the only ones the players could woo – we, too, will be able to watch (most of) the combine, in hopes of finding that perfect player for our hometown or favorite team to go after in April. Here are the deets to get you in the know about this year’s combine…
WHAT: NFL Scouting Combine
WHEN: February 20-26, 2013, beginning at 9 am EST
*Note: Technically began on Wed., but the good stuff starts tomorrow. Here’s a brief schedule by position:
- Sat., 2/23 – Tight Ends, Offensive Lineman, Special Teams
- Sun. 2/24 – Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers
- Mon. 2/25 – Defensive Linemen, Linebackers
- Tues. 2/26 – Defensive Backs
WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and YOUR living room on NFL Network & NFL.com
WHY: So NFL scouts (and us!) can preview, pick and prod this year’s top NFL prospects, both physically and mentally, in order to determine if they’re worthy of the NFL.
WHO: My Top 5 Players to Watch this Weekend
- Geno Smith, QB out of West Virginia – For the first time in a few years, there isn’t a single quarterback (yet less 2 or 3) that is expected to go in the top 10… maybe not even in the first round. The most ironic thing about this – the team with the #1 overall pick – the Kansas City Chiefs– are pretty much in desperate need of a QB. That being said, the guy with the most upside is unquestionably West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Smith has great size for the NFL, and arm strength and accuracy to match. But after starting off the season on a tear, Smith cooled significantly as the Mountaineers season unraveled. That fact leaves Smith with things to prove – both on and off the field – and there is no question that the Chiefs, and everyone else, will be watching.
- Marquise Goodwin, WR out of Texas – If you haven’t heard of this kid, it’s time you listen up. Goodwin is not just a great football player, but an incredible athlete all around. He represented the US last summer in the Olympics after winning the US Trials, then placed 10th, IN THE WORLD. Clearly Goodwin is going to kill it in the jump this weekend, and that alone may be reason to watch him. But I think he’ll show us more – he has great speed and the ability to chase down the long ball. Despite a lackluster performance this past season (granted, he did miss pretty much the entire summer of preparing due to the Olympics), the entire Texas roster basically under performed so that doesn’t say much. Goodwin has the ability to get everyone talking this weekend, so his performance isn’t one I’d want to miss.
- Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE out of BYU – Another really cool story (and freakish athlete) who’ll be in the spotlight this weekend is Ziggy Ansah. Ansah grew up in Ghana playing soccer, basketball and running track, and didn’t even pick up a football until 2010. He was just named a starter at BYU this past season, but shined for that short time, including winning Defensive Player of the Game honors at the Senior Bowl. There’s no question about his athletic ability, which is sure to be on display this weekend, and teams will be looking to determine just how quickly they can turn Ziggy’s raw talent into NFL-level defensive gold.
- Tyrann Mathieu (“The Honey Badger”), DB out of LSU (or he was until he got dismissed from the team…) – So you’re probably reading this being like, is she serious? Isn’t that the guy who got arrested like 10 times and kicked off his college team?! Yes, it is. But bear in mind – before breaking the camel’s back, this kid was a Heisman hopeful and the biggest buzz in college football in 2011. He is an incredible playmaker – forcing fumbles and grabbing interceptions for TDs all over the place – and if weren’t for all of his “character issues,” he’d be a 1st round pick, no question. Word on the street is that he’s cleaned up his act and is here to prove he’s ready for the NFL, even after a full year off of organized football, so what the heck – let’s give him one more shot at it.
- Manti Te’o, ILB out of Notre Dame – Clearly, the biggest sports story of the year wasn’t going to squeak by me and head into the combine quietly. Manti Te’o, this year’s golden boy (until January 16), the runner-up for the Heisman who “lead” the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season and the National Championship game, will be under the most intense of microscopes this weekend – including mine. A lot has been said about how the whole “fake girlfriend/catfish” scenario will affect his draft stock, but to me, it’s more about his on the field performance than his social media prowess. The fact of the matter is, Te’o performed horribly in the National Championship game, as Notre Dame got stomped (literally) by Alabama, and that’s the last glimpse of football we saw from him. He says that his performance was affected by “the situation,” and that’s fair – but now, it’s time for him to prove it. Before January, Te’o was pretty much a guaranteed Top 10 pick, and this weekend, it’ll be up to him, and only him, to show the NFL that he’s deserving and ready for it.