INDIANAPOLIS -- Scouts and coaches will tell you that most evaluators leave the NFL Scouting Combine with more questions than answers after watching top prospects work out for four days in Indianapolis.
With a little bit of time to reflect on the happenings at Lucas Oil Stadium, here are some answers to a few prominent questions in my mind:
1) Who helped himself the most?
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU: Hunt put himself squarely on the radar of scouts after turning in sensational marks in the 40-yard dash (4.60 seconds), vertical jump (34.5 inches), broad jump (10-foot-1) and bench press (38 reps). He also displayed outstanding movement skills, agility and body control in positional drills, leading some scouts to believe he can develop into an immediate-impact player as a five-technique (a defensive end in a 3-4).
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Austin, who also had a remarkable workout, likewise deserves mention. His 4.34 40 answered questions about his speed, while a superb positional workout showcased his hands and receiving skills. Given his overall explosiveness, Austin is worth considering at the bottom of the first round.
2) Who went in the wrong direction?
Damontre Moore, DT, Texas A&M: Moore had arguably the worst combine of any prospect in attendance, posting a disappointing 12 reps in the bench press and barely cracking the five-second mark in the 40-yard dash. Additionally, he reportedly came off as immature and unprepared in interviews with scouts and coaches. With so much riding on his performance in Indianapolis, Moore likely torpedoed his chances of coming off the board with one of the first five picks.
3) Which prospect/team match do I feel confident about?
Dee Milliner and the Detroit Lions: Team executives will wax poetic about taking the best available player, but most teams actually try to fill their biggest needs. A lack of solid secondary play should lead the Lions to take Milliner in the first round. Not only is he the best cornerback in the draft, but he certainly is worthy of a top-five selection (Detroit holds the No. 5 pick), based on his immense talent and potential.
4) Who is facing the most pro-day pressure?
Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Barkley reportedly shined in interviews with scouts and coaches, but he didn't throw, meaning he must dazzle evaluators with his physical skills at his pro day. He must display exceptional arm strength and impress with his accuracy and ball placement. Additionally, Barkley will need to meet the standard measurements in a battery of agility tests to prove he is athletic enough to effectively play quarterback as a pro. If Barkley steps up to the challenge in all aspects, he definitely could earn a spot in the first round as the second quarterback taken off the board.
5) Who emerged as a Day 2 value pick for April's draft?
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Most of the pre-draft attention is focused on the first round, but general managers and scouts quickly will tell you that championship teams also find integral pieces in the second and third rounds. Armstead is the guy to watch, based on his strong play at college all-star games, as well as his fabulous showing at the combine (highlighted by a 4.71 40 at 306 pounds). He is an extremely athletic edge blocker with the size, strength and agility to be a solid starter at right tackle or offensive guard as a pro.