NFL Scouting Combine: Prospects on the Cusp of the First Round

NFL Scouting Combine: Prospects on the Cusp of the First Round

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NFL Scouting Combine: Prospects on the Cusp of the First Round

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By Dave Doyle

Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: Football scouts can be remarkably like teenagers at the mall, always following the next big trend. This year’s “in” thing is trying to find the next Rob Gronkowski, who re-wrote the NFL’s record book for tight ends in 2011-12 with the New England Patriots.

They just might have it in Fleener, who boasts the size (6-foot-6, 254 lbs.), strength, ball-handling and route-running skills that fit Gronkowski’s prototype. Fleener had 667 receiving yards on 34 catches and 10 touchdowns in 2011. The biggest remaining question is: Does he have that burst of speed off the snap required to make him the total package? A strong 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine could push him into the first round.

Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska: Once considered a sure bet for the first round, Dennard has seen his stock drop a bit recently, as questions persist about his injury history, his relatively stocky physique (5-foot-10, 205 lbs.), and whether he has the quickness necessary to keep from getting toasted by the NFL’s best receivers.

But Dennard still has the traits that got him noticed in the first place: His intelligence in quickly assimilating Nebraska’s complex schemes, which earned him a starting spot by his sophomore year, his physical toughness, and his willingness to step up and defend the run. A good Combine showing could cause a team in need of defensive secondary help to gamble a first-round pick.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: A versatile playmaker and yards-after-catch monster who runs great routes and can be used in multiple schemes. The 6-foot-2, 215 lb. Sanu was the first true freshman ever to start at wideout for coach Greg Schiano. He had a breakout junior year in 2011, setting a Big East single-game record for catches with 16 in a win over Ohio on Sept. 24 en route to a 1,204-yard receiving season.

The big question is, did he make the right move in leaving school with a year of eligibility remaining? Sanu at times seems prone to mental lapses such as dropping catchable balls. If Sanu can impress the scouts off the field at the Combine, his on-field potential may be too much for some team to resist.

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