With players at the NFL scouting combine taking the field tomorrow, there will be plenty of questions concerning the 74 SEC players in attendance.
From Laremy Tunsil to Robert Nkemdiche to Derrick Henry to Vernon Hargreaves III, some of the most-discussed prospects hail from the conference. But which player’s upcoming performance in Indianapolis is the most intriguing? That’s a question worthy of discussion.
SEC writers David Ching and Greg Ostendorf weigh in:
Ching: As interested as I am in how Nkemdiche explains his fall from a hotel window and subsequent drug arrest, the guy who intrigues me most this week is Henry.
The Heisman Trophy winner weighed in at a hefty 247 pounds – the most of any running back and more than a bunch of linebackers – and measured 6-foot-2.5. We already knew he was huge, though. What makes this week especially interesting for Henry is how he will fare in the physical drills, particularly the 40-yard dash (he will apparently participate after rumors spread Wednesday that he would not) and the various cone and shuttle runs.
Henry will be one of the most heavily debated prospects over the next couple of months, with many draft analysts predicting he will go sometime on Day 2. Would a ridiculous 40 time and a strong performance in the other combine drills help him inch into Round 1? We shall see.
Ostendorf: The combine is basically a showcase for the athletic freaks in the draft, the guys who can run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash or bench press a car. And while it’s always fascinating to see how fast some of these SEC players really are, I’m more intrigued by the quarterbacks in this year’s class, specifically Brandon Allen and Dak Prescott.
Prescott, in particular, is interesting. Despite all of his success at Mississippi State, there were concerns about whether he could make the transition to the next level. He’s always drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow, and we all know how long Tebow lasted in the NFL.
But Prescott is not Tebow. He proved that at the Senior Bowl, where he was named the most outstanding player, and his stock has been on the rise ever since. Now Mel Kiper Jr. has him as a second-round pick, on the same level as fellow quarterbacks Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg, and another draft analyst recently compared him to Russell Wilson.
The recent climb shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, at least not for those who watched him this past season. He improved significantly as a passer, and he’ll have a chance to prove that to NFL scouts this weekend. Both he and Allen are choosing to throw, which is rare for quarterbacks in the draft, and that makes it a critical weekend for both players.
We know Prescott will test well in the 40-yard dash, but can he make all the throws? And the knock on Allen has been his small hands, but can he silence the critics with a strong showing in Indianapolis?