The entire NFL world descends upon Indianapolis this week for the annual player Combine. In past weeks we've highlighted in this column prospects whose senior seasons or performances in all-star games have either improved or lessened their stock in the eyes of scouts. This week we identify the five players with the most to gain or lose by their performance in Indianapolis.
Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson struggled at the Senior Bowl in making adjustments to Mike Martz's offense. Despite owning a strong arm, an elongated throwing motion and slow release has scouts concerned that Woodson's passes will give NFL defensive backs extra time to read and react to the ball. With no defensive backs to break on his passes during the throwing drills at the Combine, Woodson won't have to worry about interceptions. To ease scouts' concerns, however, he will need to draw attention away from his slow throwing motion with strong, accurate throws. Anything less than pinpoint accuracy in passing drills this week could send Woodson's stock tumbling into the draft's second day.
2. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona - Stock Current Rating: 2008 Draft Scout #4 CB, Overall #31, Compiled Projected Round(s): 1-2
Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason is a classic example of a very good football player whose lack of topflight measureables could lead to a surprising drop on draft day. A four year conference honoree -- including First Team Pac-10 accolades the past two years -- Cason reads the action well and is a physical, reliable cornerback. If Cason confirms only marginal straight-line speed with forty times in the 4.5s or slower, however, this career standout could still be waiting to hear his name called after the first round ends.
San Jose State cornerback Dwight Lowery is in a similar position to Cason. With 27 passes defended in only 25 career games at the D-I level (including 13 interceptions), Lowery is the only Spartan voted an All-American in back to back seasons. Lowery reads the action as well as any cornerback in the country, but a lack of top-end speed makes him a liability in man coverage. Despite his gaudy statistics, anything slower than a 4.50 will almost guarantee Lowery's being drafted in the 3rd round or lower.
Indiana wide receiver James Hardy, at an estimated 6-6, 220 pounds, has the size, leaping ability, and hands to rank as one of the elite possession receivers in the draft. Despite dominating Big Ten competition, at times, however, Hardy has only marginal downfield speed, which could be exposed this week in the forty yard dash. Questionable decisions off the field will make him a heavily scrutinized player during interviews, as well.
Colorado linebacker Jordon Dizon is one of the country's most instinctive and reliable open-field tacklers -- two skills that, unfortunately for him, will not translate into Combine workouts. At only 6-0, 228 pounds, Dizon doesn't impress with his size or build and he isn't expected to rank highly in terms of strength or speed, either. His struggles in these areas could send Dizon -- who led the country with 120 solo tackles was voted the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year -- to the late rounds.
02/20/08 - Rob Rang, Senior Analyst, NFLDraftScout.com