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NFL Scouting Combine Top Prospects: What to Watch For

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By Dave Doyle

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: By now, you’ve heard all the superlatives thrown Luck’s way. Depending on which television talking sock puppet is mouthing the words at any given moment, the Stanford signal caller is a once-in-a-generation talent, the next John Elway/Dan Marino/Y.A. Tittle, and oh yeah, we have no video proof, but maybe he can walk on water, too.

With hype like that, the biggest thing to keep an eye on is whether the presumptive No. 1 pick in waiting underperforms anywhere along the way. If Luck, who threw for 3,517 yards and 37 touchdowns in 13 games in 2011, simply does what he’s supposed to do, the No. 1 slot is sealed. If he stumbles, however, the next guy on our list will get a closer look from the Indianapolis Colts, who own the top pick. Which brings us to …

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: RG3 raised a few eyebrows recently when he told Dan Patrick’s radio show that he doesn’t plan on throwing at the NFL Scouting Combine. But that’s OK, we all know the Heisman Trophy winner can throw, with just a hair under 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2011.

Something to watch when Griffin hits the field in Indianapolis: His 40-yard dash speed. Can he hit the magical 4.4-second mark that makes scouts swoon? If so, expect QB-starved teams like Seattle, Miami and Washington to burn up St. Louis GM Jay Zygmunt’s phone line looking to make a deal for the Rams’ number-two pick.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: The highest-rated defensive player on most mock drafts is there for a reason. He appears to have all the tools to become a great shutdown corner and can return kicks, too. He’ll look awfully attractive to a team like Tampa Bay at the No. 5 spot, which gave up a league-worst 494 points in 2011.

We don’t need the NFL Scouting Combine to tell us that Claiborne can run fast or catch the ball. But how does his strength measure up, given that he’s somewhat undersized at 6-1 and 185 pounds? A strong performance in the bench press should seal Claiborne’s top-five draft status.

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