Strong combine showing a must for these prospects

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It's always difficult to predict who's going to win and lose at the NFL Scouting Combine, but with the help of a college scout I very much respect, here are five players who need a big showing in Indianapolis:

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Why he needs a big week: For more than a year, he was considered an elite NFL prospect, but a zero-interception 2010 has some questioning his ball skills, even after he had five picks in 2009. And though he was solid otherwise last fall, one bad afternoon against Oklahoma State star Justin Blackmon has really hurt the way people perceive Amukamara.

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Scout's take: "For a while, he and the LSU kid (Patrick Peterson) were neck-and-neck, but it seems like Peterson has solidified his spot as the best corner. Prince slipped because of the dropped picks last year, and his ball skills. He's doing everything (all drills) in Indy, and he needs to have a good week. He needs to be top-tier in everything he does."

Amukamara's combine itinerary: Saturday: Arrival, informal NFL coach interviews; Sunday: Media interviews, drug testing, measurement, medical exam, psychological testing; informal coach interviews; Monday: Wonderlic intelligence test, psychological testing, informal coach interviews, bench press; Tuesday: Timing events (10, 20, 40), flexibility tests (vertical, broad jumps), skill drills (3-cone, shuttles), on-field workouts, departure.

Washington QB Jake Locker

Why he needs a big week: Coming into the 2010 season, he was a contender for the No. 1 overall pick. Now? Well, he could slip out of the first round. The entire quarterback group is unsettled. On the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, Locker is the one who needs to show up and perform.

Scout's take: "Locker has hurt himself. His stock has been on the decline since the Senior Bowl, and he needs to recover. ... The damage has been done. Now, he needs to stop the bleeding."

Locker's combine itinerary: Thursday: Arrival, informal NFL coach interviews; Friday: Media interviews, drug testing, measurement, medical exam, psychological testing; informal coach interviews; Saturday: Wonderlic intelligence test, psychological testing, informal coach interviews; Sunday: Timing events (10, 20, 40), flexibility tests (vertical, broad jumps), skill drills (3-cone, shuttles), on-field throwing, departure.

Three North Carolina suspendees

Why they need a big week: Defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and wide receiver Greg Little have all been considered first-round talents, but each missed all of last year after a probe revealed violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules. So each has proving ground to make up, and in particular Quinn, the best prospect of the three, who was an underclassman this year and will require the most work by teams.

Scout's take: "Everything they do from here on out will be so amplified, because they didn't play in 2010. That makes this all the more important to them."

Little's combine itinerary: Thursday: Arrival, informal NFL coach interviews; Friday: Media interviews, drug testing, measurement, medical exam, psychological testing; informal coach interviews; Saturday: Wonderlic intelligence test, psychological testing, informal coach interviews; Sunday: Timing events (10, 20, 40), flexibility tests (vertical, broad jumps), skill drills (3-cone, shuttles), on-field workouts, departure.

Quinn's and Austin's combine itinerary: Friday: Arrival, informal NFL coach interviews; Saturday: Media interviews, drug testing, measurement, medical exam, psychological testing; informal coach interviews; Sunday: Wonderlic intelligence test, psychological testing, informal coach interviews; Monday: Timing events (10, 20, 40), flexibility tests (vertical, broad jumps), skill drills (3-cone, shuttles), on-field workouts, departure.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer

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