2013 NFL Draft: Combine Preview

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine begins this week. We take a look players we'll be watching throughout the proceedings.

The NFL Human Cattle Show Scouting Combine/Underwear Olympics begins this Wednesday and runs through next Tuesday. Prospects plod out to Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis wearing workout gear that leaves nothing to the imagination and participate in a gamut of individual drills and workouts. All in the hopes of hearing their name called during the 2013 NFL Draft.

333 young men will show off their skills this week. In the interest of keeping things short, Trevor Woods and I will list just five players we'll be keeping an eye on during their drills. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to discuss the Combine and talk about the draft. Check out the Combine website for a complete schedule of events.

Five I'll (@BigSwinginNick) be watching:

RB Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State - At 6-2, 244lbs Bell is an enormous running back. He led the Big10 in rushing in 2012 with 1,793 yards while scoring 12 TDs. Bell's reported 40-yard dash time is between 4.5 and 4.6, which for a man of his size is flying. Film shows he's actually quite agile and deceptively quick.

Bell is currently projected as a mid-round back but could vault himself higher should he do well in at the Combine. Bell will test on Sunday, February 24th and I'll be looking to see how well he does in the 3-cone and short shuttle drills, which are good tests for running backs to exhibit balance and change of direction.

WR Marquise Goodwin, Texas - The Olympic long jumper is a candidate to be a Combine darling. Goodwin is a world-class sprinter and should be one of if not the fastest prospect at the Combine. He'll likely run a sub 4.4 40 and have impressive 3-cone and shuttle drill times.

Goodwin had a disappointing senior year at Texas but caught the eye of scouts with a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl in January. At only 5-9, 180lbs Goodwin will need another solid day of testing to justify a mid-round selection. Goodwin will also test on Sunday, February 24th.

OL Kyle Long, Oregon - Perhaps one of the most athletic prospects, pound for pound, is offensive lineman Kyle Long. Brother of Rams Pro Bowl defensive lineman Chris Long and son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long, Kyle initially decided to play baseball out of high school enrolling at Florida State. The 6-6, 300lbs lefty featured a 95 MPH fastball and was an imposing figure on the mound, needless to say. Off the field issues led Long to transfer to a junior college where he picked up football again.

Two years in JUCO and one with Oregon, Long now finds himself as a likely early to mid-round draft prospect. Long is extremely athletic and moves well for a big man so he should perform well at the Combine. I'll be looking to see how well he does in the 10 yard split which is a good indicator of explosiveness off the line and the kick slide drill where tackles can show off their quickness and balance. Long will test on Saturday, February 23rd.

DE/OLB David Bass, Missouri Western State - The small school pass rusher absolutely dominated the FBS competition. Bass racked up 56 tackles or loss and 39.5 sacks over his four-year career. Bass remarkably quick for his size, at 6-4 263lbs, Bass has recorded a 40 time as low as 4.58 but is consistently in the 4.65-68 range.

Bass showed he could play with NFL type talent at the East West Shrine Game in January, consistently beating lineman and pressuring the quarterback. His stock is rising and with a solid performance on Monday, February 25th, Bass should see it rise even further. I'll be watching to see how he does in the 10-yard split, broad jump, and the short shuttle drills, as all are indicative of explosiveness and lower body power.

CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana - Another small school prospect, Alford impressed scouts in January with a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. The 5-10 185lbs corner has great size and legit 4.4 speed. Scouts were impressed with his technique and ability to stay with opposing receivers in and out of breaks. He also doubles as a kick returner and returned the opening kick of the Senior Bowl 88 yards before being tackled from behind.

Alford is another prospect that is likely to have several teams fall in love with him after the Combine. I'll be watching to see how he performs in the vertical coverage drills. I expect Alford's stock to rise after the Combine and for him to become a mid-round pick in April's Draft. Alford will test on Tuesday, February 26th.

**It's important to note that team interviews are equally as important as how a player tests. This is where players can separate themselves and truthfully, it's why no one can accurately predict how the draft will go.

Here are the five prospects Trevor Woods (@Woods49ers) will be watching:

Thanks to 1Iota.com I will be attending the NFL Combine! I'll be attending the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers portions of the combine. I'll be bringing my notepad and paper to scout. Scouting is a lot of fun, even as just a fan. I'll be sure to post my experience as I'm quite excited about it.

Here are the players I'll be looking forward to seeing throughout the week, and the day I'm actually there.

DE Margus Hunt 6-8 277 lbs- SMU: There aren't many players I'll be looking forward to seeing more than Hunt, he can make his stock skyrocket with a strong showing at the combine. What I'm most interested to see is how fast he will run his 40 yard dash. I'm thinking he's going to run a sub 4.7, and I would not want to be in that dudes way when he's booking like that. Hunt didn't have the best Senior Bowl, but he had a good year for SMU in which he notched six sacks. The most impressive statistic Hunt has is blocked kicks (17 in his college career). I know a lot of the Niners Nation community wants Smith to be picked by the 49ers, so pay close attention to him this week. I'll be having a scouting report on him after the combine.

WR Aaron Mellette 6-3 216 lbs- Elon: His name might not sound familiar to you, but Mellette had as good of a year as any receiver in this years draft class. Obviously he wasn't playing SEC competition, but 97 catches, 18 touchdowns, and 1,398 receiving yards is pretty good at any level. Mellette could go in the fifth or sixth round as it stands right now, but a good showing could move him up. All eyes will be on him at the combine, and he has a chance to show he belongs in the NFL. It's up to Mellette to seize the opportunity.

SS Matt Elam 5-10 202 lbs- Florida: Elam is a guy whom every time I watched the Gators play, he made a big hit. He isn't the occasional big hitter, he hits hard all the time. Elam is ferocious. Unfortunately at the combine you don't get to put on pads and hit a receiver. The plus side of that is the fact that we get to see Elam in drills and in a way we haven't seen. Elam totaled 76 tackles this year (12 for a loss).

SS Jonathan Cyprien 6-0 209 lbs- Florida International: Cyprien doesn't go to the biggest school in Florida, but his game is just as big as Elam's. On most rankings charts Cyprien is ranked behind Elam and he will be looking to jump frog him into the #1 ranking at his position. Cyprien could be an option for the 49ers in round one so close attention should be paid to him. Cyprien is a hair faster than Elam and just as physical. He had a really good week of practices at the Senior Bowl and scouts have his attention.

TE Chris Gragg 6-3 236 lbs- Arkansas: Gragg is projected to go in round 5 or 6, and I think that could change after the combine. Gragg has exceptional speed for a tight end, but also has good size to go along with it. Gragg is a good blocker who happens to also be a good receiving tight end. Gragg missed some games this season, but when he is on the field, attention must be given to him. Gragg looks a lot like Delanie in every which way, maybe he doesn't drop any easy ones at the combine. I think he will have an impressive combine and help his stock.

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