Prospects will begin reporting to the NFL Scouting Combine (March 3-6 on NFL Network) on Tuesday as they take their next step in the path to the draft. The popularity of the combine is mocked by some members of the media. They refer to it as "The Underwear Olympics" and often cite the misguided rise of players such as Mike Mamula, Vernon Gholston and Matt Jones. However, while it's not the most important piece of the evaluation puzzle (the game tape will always carry this distinction), the combine is very valuable to all 32 NFL clubs.
More than anything else, the combine is about collecting information and answering questions. With that in mind, I've come up with five key questions that should be answered at this year's combine in Indianapolis.
Dates: Feb. 28-March 6
TV: NFL Network
1. How big are the top quarterback prospects?
NFL scouts travel around the country in the spring to get official height and weight measurements for the upcoming senior class. However, the underclassmen that declare early for the NFL draft aren't officially measured prior to their arrival at the combine. The top quarterbacks in this class are underclassmen. How tall is Deshaun Watson? What about Mitch Trubisky? Is DeShone Kizer 6-foot-4? We will soon find out.
2. Is this the best collection of cornerbacks we've seen in more than a decade?
I've been praising this year's cornerback group for quite some time. There is elite talent at the top of the board and tremendous depth throughout the class. If this group runs as fast as I expect, I think you can make an argument this is the best group we've seen in a very long time. Posting an acceptable 40-yard-dash time is the last hurdle for many of these prospects to clear. The tape is outstanding.
3. What position should Jabrill Peppers play at the next level?
Peppers played out of position this fall (he lined up primarily at linebacker, despite weighing 200 pounds) but he still found a way to make a positive impact for the Michigan defense. What is his best position for the next level? Safety? Cornerback? Nickel back? Weakside linebacker? Running back? Every team has its own opinion on where he fits best, but watching him go through the field workout at the combine could change the opinion of some evaluators. He's listed as a linebacker and therefore will run through linebacker drills with his group. However, he will also go through an entire defensive back workout once he finishes up with his linebacker drill work.
4. How fast is Leonard Fournette?
Fournette enjoyed a tremendous career at LSU and he's one of the most hyped running back prospects to enter the draft in the last 4-5 years. He has ideal size and he runs with tremendous power. I've seen him run away from SEC defenses for three seasons, but there still seems to be some question about his long speed. I believe he will run the 40 in the 4.4s, while some others in the scouting world anticipate him running in the mid-4.5s. His 40-yard dash will be a fun one to watch.
5. Can Myles Garrett lock up the first overall pick?
All signs point toward the Browns targeting the talented Texas A&M pass rusher with the first overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Garrett has a rare combination of speed, power and agility. With a strong workout and impressive interview, I believe he can all but secure his spot as the top pick in April. Everyone I've spoken with anticipates him putting on a show in the field workout and they believe he'll be even more impressive in team interviews.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.
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