1) Combine participants try to fill in the blanks
Four Longhorns attended the NFL Scouting Combine, but only one position player logged a full workout.
Jackson Jeffcoat made the most of his opportunity, finishing among the defensive line top performers in the 40-yard dash at 4.63 seconds, in the 20-yard shuttle at 4.18 seconds, in the broad jump at 10-foot-3 and in the three-cone drill at 6.97 seconds. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times and had a strong 36-inch vertical leap.
That means that Jeffcoat enters Wednesday with strong marks in his athletic testing. Like it was for Sam Acho and more recently Alex Okafor, the burden now falls to Jeffcoat to prove that he can stand up and run around in coverage. He's been nicked a bit by NFL scouts for tightness of hips, and he'll need to show that isn't an issue. Jeffcoat measured at 6-3 247 at the Combine, and that's more linebacker-sized than NFL defensive end. Can he show the ability to play linebacker at the next level? It's a valid question.
For Mike Davis, Wednesday could come down to his 40-yard dash. He has a chance to sneak up into that third round or so and be a second-day pick if he clocks a good time of 4.45 or so. Some people I've talked to guess that Davis is typically a 4.5-flat type guy, so a 4.5-flat would be meeting expectations, and a 4.45 would be exceeding them. Davis was nursing an injury and was only able to do the bench press at the Combine, so he'll need to look fluid in drills and clock a good agility time as well.
Kickers aren't often drafted, but Anthony Fera has been as automatic as they come. He's positioning himself nicely to be either one of the rare kickers drafted or to have a chance to pick whichever camp he wants to attend to start his NFL career.
Then there's Chris Whaley, who was invited to the combine, but was unable to work out. Whaley measured at 6-foot-3 at the combine, but weighed in at a light 269 pounds. Where will his weight be on Wednesday, and will he be able to show anything to scouts to make them want to draft him despite his coming off an ACL tear?
2) Others try to make impressions
The NFL Scouting Combine is invitation-only, and the number of invitations dictates that they always miss a few players who will be drafted. Which Longhorns will be able to step up there? Trey Hopkins and Donald Hawkins certainly have NFL potential on the offensive line, and both will be shooting for a mid-to-late NFL Draft pick.
For all of those players who weren't invited to the Combine, this is it for them, their chance to impress NFL scouts and try to entice teams to invite them in for personal workouts and eventually, to spend draft picks on them. None of the above players are securely in the NFL Draft at this point, but most could push their way in with a strong performance.
For guys like Walters and Phillips who aren't likely to get drafted, this is also their chance to try and drum up interest in teams that could offer them free agent contracts and a chance to come in and make a squad in camp.
3) Who's next?
While the younger players don't work out for scouts, this can be a really good chance for them to show up, support their teammates and network a bit with the NFL guys. Certainly, players like Cedric Reed will probably be on hand, but what other young players will impress the scouts on the hoof?