Some call it the Underwear Olympics, but others understand the week-long event in Indianapolis is a lot more than sleeveless shirts and stopwatches. Here are the 20 players should you have your eye on at the NFL Scouting Combine. –Ross Jones
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
The reigning Heisman Trophy Award winner has everything you want in a franchise quarterback. Mariota will stand tall in the pocket, evade pressure and make difficult throws and has the capability to put his team on his back and win. Mariota’s quiet demeanor has some wondering if he can take control of the huddle from Day 1. Finally, he’ll need to answer suggestions that his success is a derivative of the scheme they execute in Eugene.
Getty ImagesBrian Bahr
Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Since leaving Tallahassee, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback has been relatively quiet, working out with famed QB coach George Whitfield. Winston must address his off-field red flags with teams and acknowledge he has learned from his mistakes. It also wouldn’t hurt if he showcased strong, accurate passes during the throwing sessions.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
UCLA QB Brett Hundley
After opting to not participate in last month’s Senior Bowl, the former Bruins quarterback has been criticized for not being able to operate effectively in the pocket. Hundley, a dual-threat quarterback, must be sharp on the whiteboards during his visits with teams and display the athleticism and strong-armed talent that allowed him to revive a program from mediocrity.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
At 6-foot-1, 213 pounds, Gordon best resembles Texans running back Arian Foster. With Gordon’s blend of size and speed, he could be the first running back selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Trent Richardson in 2012. Gordon will need to prove teams can use him as a three-down back, flashing natural hands in respective drills.
Getty ImagesTom Lynn
West Virginia WR Kevin White
How fast will White run? That’s what some scouts are wondering. After a magical senior season, hauling in 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound pass-catcher has just about everyone intrigued. What makes White so special is his ability to go up and fight for the football. Expect him to steal the spotlight in the gauntlet drill.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY SportsJustin Ford
Miami WR Phillip Dorsett
Dorsett is a prospect whose arrow is pointing up. Despite not having the size of some other options in this draft class, Dorsett could be the fastest player in Indianapolis. Dorsett’s explosiveness was on display during Senior Bowl week. In fact, the Miami Hurricanes’ Twitter account posted that Dorsett’s average 40-yard dash time last summer was 4.21.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Louisville WR DeVante Parker
Parker might not possess the long speed that teams at the next level desire, but he’s as polished as they come. Parker’s ability to high-point the football and win in coverage is a talent that is extremely desired.
Getty ImagesGrant Halverson
Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham
There’s no denying Green-Beckham’s 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame combined with effortless foot quickness and a rare catch radius. The knock on him, though, is his trouble off the field. Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri in 2014 after being arrested twice and allegedly being involved in a burglary. Teams will need to weigh the risk-reward of Green-Beckham’s upside and red-flag indicators.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Alabama WR Amari Cooper
A technician on the field, Cooper could be the centerpiece to an NFL offensive coordinator’s game plan. Amassing 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns in his junior season, Cooper has been projected by FOX Sports 1’s NFL Draft expert Joel Klatt as the top wide receiver in this class. “His best years are ahead of him,” Klatt writes. “And his one season with Lane Kiffin should provide a glimpse of what he can do in a true pro-style offense.”
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
USC DT Leonard Williams
One of the most versatile players in the draft, Williams is capable of lining up all over the defensive line. With a freakish ability to stack and shed offensive linemen and make plays in the backfield, Williams will only get better and could be a future All-Pro. The former Trojan’s first-step quickness has been critiqued this past season, so the first 10 yards in the 40-yard dash will be watched with heavy scrutiny.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Nebraska DE Randy Gregory
Not sure where to stand on Gregory? You’re not alone. While Gregory is a bit raw, his through-the-roof potential could be maximized with good coaching. One scout, though, recently expressed concern to NJ.com. "He's a hell of an athlete. He just doesn't make plays. He's similar to Dion Jordan from a couple of years ago," the scout said. "... He does flash. You'll see him make a play and go 'wow' and then he won't do anything else the rest of the game. To me he's still a work in progress."
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
Missouri DE Shane Ray
Ray possesses the motor that scouts and personnel look for on tape. With pass rushers at a premium, Ray could go as high as No. 2 to the Tennessee Titans. Instead of blowing away people in Indianapolis, Ray needs to check out medically and athletically to cement himself as one of the first players selected in this year’s draft.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Alabama FS Landon Collins
This Nick Saban-coached safety has great instincts and a knack for hitting ball carriers in the mouth. Collins might not run the fastest in the 40-yard dash, but his aggressive play on the field is what has some teams salivating over his talent.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Washington DT Danny Shelton
It’s not every day that you find a 6-foot-2, 343-pound space-eater who can also rush the passer. That’s Shelton’s game, though. Compared to the likes of Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, Shelton often commands double-teams and uses good leverage to win at the point of attack.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY SportsEd Szczepanski
Florida DE Dante Fowler
Nobody plays with more comfort in both the two- and three-point stance than Fowler. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound pass rusher should also thrive in setting the edge.
Getty ImagesSam Greenwood
Michigan State CB Trae Waynes
The fad of big-bodied cornerbacks lives on in this year’s NFL Draft. Waynes, who was a part of the “no-fly zone” in East Lansing, allowed only two touchdowns over the last two seasons and flourishes in man-to-man coverage. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound cornerback will need to rely on his technique more at the next level.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
TCU LB Paul Dawson
Some might ding Dawson on character concerns, but the bottom line is he’s an extremely productive linebacker and should be selected in the first round. A converted wide receiver, Dawson has the quickness and strength to fight off oncoming blocks and bring down the ball carrier.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Washington CB Marcus Peters
Peters has size, fluid hips and can tackle. He might be the most complete prospect at his position, but character issues will make teams hesitant.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY SportsSteven Bisig
Clemson DE Vic Beasley
Beasley will look to prove that he’s an explosive athlete who can be physical at the point of attack. A former running back, this 6-foot-3, 235-pound terror off the end should impress several people in this setting.
Getty ImagesTyler Smith
Miami TE Clive Walford
Walford fits the mold of today’s tight end in the NFL. After impressing several scouts at the Senior Bowl last month, Walford can thrust his name into the conversation for first tight end selected with a solid performance.