A Scouting Combine-star emerges virtually every year, where someone shoots up the mock draft boards based on their combine performances.  Several of the top pro football prospects helped their draft positions with their combine results including South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.

At the same time, players, who were presumable first-round draft picks, may have hurt their draft positions by the performances they gave at the scouting combine. Michael Sam, the controversial defensive end from the University of Missouri, may hurt his draft status altogether with his performance at the combines.

Combine Winners:

Jadeveon Clowney ( DE) University of South Carolina:

The 6-foot-5, 266 lb. DE was projected as the sure-fire No. 1 last year this time in the afterglow of his helmet-detaching hit as he led the Gamecocks  Florida Citrus Bowl win over Michigan.  Questions of Clowney not giving 100% on every play, and repeated run-ins with the law had his stock plummeting leading up to the combines.

However, Clowney’s freakish athletic abilities were showcased at this year’s combines, where he posted a 4.5 40-yard dash time, a 37.5-inch vertical jump, and a 124-inch broad jump.  These position-best postings will make him a top-five draft pick in May’s NFL Draft. 

Johnny Manziel (QB) Texas A &M University:

Johnny Football may have worked his way back into the draft’s top-10 with his 40-time (4.68 seconds), vertical jump (31.5-inches), and his hand size (9 7/8-inches).  Manziel’s, at 5-foot-11, hands are as big as Clowney’s.

However, Manziel’s height, inexperience playing under center, and off-the-field-maturity remain concerns.

Aaron Donald (DT) University of Pittsburgh:

The Outland Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, and Bronko Nagurski Award winner added to his draft stock resume with his 4.6 40-yard dash time and pumping out 35 225-lb bench presses at the combines.

In addition, many college football pundits thought Donald should been in Heisman Trophy considerations last season, and he may get his named called within the top-10 picks in the draft.

Martavis Bryant (WR) Clemson University:

The 6-foot-4 wide out’s 4.42 seconds 40-yard dash outperformed his more publicized Clemson WR teammate Sammy Watkins’ 4.43 seconds.

Though it would be shocking if Watkins is still on the draft board past the Detroit Lions at No. 10, Bryant’s combine performance, and his breakout Orange Bowl performance against The Ohio State University in January may have moved him up the draft board to the first round.

Khalil Mack (OLB) University of Buffalo:

The 6-foot-3, 250-lb second team All-American posted a position best in the 40-yard dash (4.6), vertical jump (40-inches), and broad jump (128-inches).

Mack caught national attention when he posted a video game stat-line at Ohio State last September--nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and interception return for touchdown.

Blake Bortles (QB) UCF:

In spite of his rather slow 40-yard dash time (4.9), the 6-foot-5, 232-lb QB impressed NFL scouts with his athleticism in the vertical jump (32.5-inches) and broad jump (115-inches).

NFL analysts, like Nolan Nawrocki, are more enamored with his upside than his track record at UCF.

“Elements of Bortles’ skill set compare to some of the best in the game today, and his best football is ahead of him.”

Combine Losers:

Michael Sam (DE) University of Missouri:

Sam positioned himself front-and-center of America’s consciousness when he announced he was openly Gay last month.

However, his 40-yard time (4.93) will definitely drop his draft status to the fifth, sixth or seventh round if he is drafted at all.  Sam was projected as a third or fourth round selection prior to the combines.

Sam will get one last shot at redemption at Missouri’s Pro Day.  Missouri has yet to announce the date.

Cyrus Kouandijo (OT) University of Alabama:

The 6-foo-7 blindside protector of two-time BCS-National Championship QB A.J. McCarron, lumbered to a 5.59 in the 40-yard, pumped out only 21 bench presses at 225-lbs, and managed a 27.5 vertical jump.

Kelvin Benjamin (WR) Florida State University:

Benjamin may have caught the last minute TD that lifted the Seminoles to a BCS National Championship win over Auburn in January.  But WRs of similar build—6-foot-3 and above—like Texas A & M’s Mike Evans (4.5 40-yard), Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews (4.46), Watkins and Bryant posted better 40-times than Benjamin.

Do you agree or disagree with my analysis?  Feel free to comment!