5 players who can help their draft stock at the NFL scouting combine

Which prospects should you be keeping an eye on at the combine this week to raise or solidify their draft stock?

| 4 months ago
Patrick Mahomes

(John Weast/Getty Images)

5 players who can help their draft stock at the NFL scouting combine

This week, the top college football players from all over the country descend on downtown Indianapolis in an attempt to impress NFL decision-makers. While every player there is trying to help their draft stock, some will be able to make a huge positive impression on the league. Here are the five players who can improve or solidify their draft stock with a strong showing at the combine:

1. Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech

There is no clear-cut top quarterback in the class coming into the combine, which makes the event a fantastic opportunity for one quarterback to seize the moment and really make an impression on NFL teams. Patrick Mahomes should really stand out on the field compared to his peers during throwing drills, as the football will come out of his hand differently than the other quarterbacks in attendance. Mahomes has the best chance of any QB there to put on an impressive passing display, as he has the arm strength to drive the ball to all parts of the field, and will likely clock the highest ball speed there. Mahomes can also throw with touch to the intermediate and deep levels, as evidence by his 15 touchdowns on deep passes that were targeted 20 or more yards downfield. If Mahomes can have solid meetings with NFL teams and show he can handle all the crazy Xs-and-Os scenarios thrown at him, he can really gain ground on the rest of the class.

2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Coming from an NFL family means that Christian McCaffrey should be well prepared for team interviews. McCaffrey’s game film is filled with him examples of his burst and elusiveness, as he forced 65 missed tackles in 2016. The important things for McCaffrey to demonstrate at the combine will be to show he has the frame to handle the workload of a lead back. and the long speed to pull away from NFL defenders. If McCaffrey can weigh in at 200 to 205 pounds and run a 40-yard dash in the 4.4s, he will ease some concerns about how his game translates to the NFL level.

3. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

O.J. Howard’s game tape is solid, and he is the highest-graded run-blocking tight end in the draft class. If Howard has a strong athletic performance at the combine, he can ward off Miami’s David Njoku as the top tight end in the draft, and possibly even become a top-15 pick. Howard should impress in the meeting rooms, so posting impressive numbers in drills and showing off his receiving skills will help him the most. The combine should be the last box that Howard needs to check to solidify his status as the first tight end selected in the draft.

4. Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech

Henderson is an electric open-field runner, and his 785 yards after the catch ranks No. 4 in the draft class, while his 19 touchdowns ties him at No. 1 in the class with Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. The combine will give Henderson an opportunity to show his speed and burst in comparison to the other top receivers in the nation. A fast 40-yard dash for Henderson would help differentiate him from the crowd, but so will the wide receiver field drills, where he can show his acceleration and route-running ability. The side-by-side comparison should help boost Henderson’s profile and solidify his status as one of the best big-play wide receivers in the draft.

5. Takkarist McKinley, Edge, UCLA

Takkarist McKinley has already shown he can pass-rush effectively from either side of a defense, with 24 QB pressures from the left and 32 from the right in 2016. McKinley has a chance to really highlight his athleticism, length and range at the combine in an effort to differentiate himself from the other edge rushers. McKinley should display an explosive lower body with impressive broad- and vertical-jump numbers. McKinley should also run a very impressive 40-yard dash for his size and look very fluid during the field drills. If McKinley shows he has the ability to drop in coverage as an outside linebacker, that will help his draft stock even more.

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