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Combine comparisons, coin flips and free-agent shopping

With the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine officially underway (although drills don't begin until Saturday), stay tuned to NFL Network for complete coverage all weekend, and keep up with's combine blog. Plus, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock offers a full explanation of the six combine drills: the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone and shuttle run.

Here's what else is on tap for Thursday:

» Willie McGinest and Steve Wyche compare some of the stars of this year's combine with current NFL players.

Reuter: High stakes in Indy

Heading into the combine, Chad Reuter identifies 12 prospects who must perform well ... or pay the consequences. **More ...**

» How much does the NFL Scouting Combine really factor into a player's grade? Not as much as you might think, Charley Casserly says.

» Bucky Brooks explains why tiebreaker coin flips scheduled for Friday make a big impact on the draft.

» The Packers and tight end Jermichael Finley agreed on a two-year, $14 million deal Wednesday, freeing the team to use its franchise tag on another player.

» The free-agency period will include big-money, big-name signings, but as Jason La Canfora writes, the true value will be in finding the underrated high-quality players.

» Which players throughout NFL history have had the most appropriate names for the positions they played? Take a visual voyage through a depth chart of the best.

» The March edition of NFL Magazine captures the story of Eli Manning's triumphant season in New York, plus much more. Subscribe now and save up to 75 percent off newsstand prices.

» Happy birthday to former Raiders WR and Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff, who turns 69 on Thursday. Also celebrating a birthday Thursday are Hall of Fame TE Jackie Smith, who turns 72, Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (27), Giants TE Bear Pascoe (26), Patriots LB Jerod Mayo (26) and former Rams LB Jim Youngblood (62).

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