Combine Preview: The Offense

With so many questions about who will go where in April's NFL Draft, anticipation is near a fever pitch for the Indianapolis Combine, which kicks into full swing Thursday. As is the case every year- real time coverage can be found here with the TFY Draft Preview and Bear Report's Jason Klabacha. Here is a sneak preview on what to watch out for from the offensive invitees.

Assuming both juniors throw, next Sunday could be the most important day of the combine as quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith duel it out for possibly the first pick in the entire draft. Passers making a huge rise up boards based on combine workouts is not unheard of- three years ago Joey Harrington flew up the charts after a splendid passing workout while Ben Roethlisberger slipped after his showing last February. That is of course assuming both throw at the combine- which seems unlikely as of posting time. Charlie Frye and Jason Campbell hope to continue their good fortune after a strong week at the Senior Bowl while good workouts are critical for Andrew Walter, Kyle Orton and Dan Orlovsky. If you're looking for a sleeper pay close attention to Ben Daugherty of Florida A&M. Formerly of Iowa State, Daugherty is a live armed thrower with a good feel for a timing offense. Also- this is the first chance scouts will get to see Adrian McPherson on an NFL regulation field in a while. A good passing workout could move the fireball thrower into the top 75.

It is unlikely the top of the board will change at running back regardless of what happens next week, but solid forty times are needed by juniors such as Marion Barber III, Eric Shelton, Ciatrick Fason and Vernand Morency. All these players would seal themselves as top 60 selections with solid showings in the pass catching drills after they run the forty. The player to watch here is Virginia's Alvin Pearman. Coming off an extraordinary campaign, Pearman is being looked upon as a third down back and a solid workout could move him into the early part of the middle rounds.

Like the ball carriers, the tight end board is pretty set at the top though we could see movement in the middle of the pack based on combine results. Adam Bergen, Cody McCarty and Tony Curtis will all be big benefactors from fast forty times. Jerome Collins is one to keep a close eye on. A former linebacker, he did well his first year at tight end but was underutilized in Notre Dame's offense. Many feel he has unlimited upside, and now's his chance to prove it.

Except for the top spot, there could be plenty of movement on the receiver board. The player with the most to gain is junior Troy Williamson, who's been posting some very fast times in his run-up to the combine. Williamson is planning to workout on the carpet of the RCA Dome and if he's as fast as advertised watch an immediate rise into the top 15. Sharod White, Reggie Brown and Roydell Williams all have a lot riding on the line. As does Paris Warren, the unheralded yet polished prospect from Utah. Known more as a possession wide out with excellent blocking skills, a fast forty could move Warren towards the draft's first day. Another to monitor is West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall, who makes the switch to pass catcher. In the past prospects like Antwaan Randle-El have flourished when given the opportunity and earlier this year we saw Matt Jones make the seamless transition to receiver at the Senior Bowl.

Much is expected to happen when the offensive linemen workout and there is the potential for plenty of movement at all three positions. If Khalif Barnes tests as well as expected, the big tackle could move into the draft's top fifteen selections based on his brilliant showing during Senior Bowl week. Anthony Alabi and Jonathan Colon could also benefit if they meet the expectations placed on them next week while Rob Petitti must rebound after a poor post-season start to save his draft grade.

Likewise, should Elton Brown show up looking out of shape and not ready to lay it on the line, he could surrender the top spot at guard to David Baas. Those who significantly improved their draft ranking at the Senior Bowl and would only enhance themselves further at the combine include Marcus Johnson, Evan Mathis, Adam Snyder and Justin Geisinger.

Center Chris Spencer is considered an explosive athlete who tests well and should he hold true-to-form, the 'Ole Miss junior could lock up the top spot on the pivot.


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