I'm not about to call any players who worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine "losers." Even if they don't perform as well as scouts expected, they're not "losers" in my book given how well I've seen them perform on the field during their college careers.
However, listed below are 10 very good prospects that could use a second chance at performing the athleticism tests and/or position drills where they came up a bit short during the combine. They absolutely did the right thing in displaying their wares in Indianapolis, proving their willingness to compete in front of the entire league. But either because of injury or below-average performance, NFL scouts couldn't "check off all the boxes" in their evaluation process.
Now, they have another chance to impress scouts at their campus workout, otherwise known as a "pro day". The pro days begin on Thursday, with Northern Arizona and Vanderbilt going first. Teams interested in securing a particular player's services usually attend the campus workout of that player, so demonstrating improvement in the test results or on-field action can help a player's draft stock.
In the end, game tape is the most important part of the evaluation. But any prospects will reap the benefits if they show general managers, coaches, and/or scouts that they are willing to improve themselves.
1. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State: Jones pulled up with a hamstring injury while running his second 40-yard dash at the combine, ending his day. But scouts know how athletic he is, so missing out on agility tests is not a huge deal. Jones' inability to throw during the passing drills is what he missed most, so his ability to script a throwing session in Columbus is big. Teams have seen his arm strength on tape, but they're not sure how quickly he can deliver the ball. They also want to know how accurately he can deliver all of the different throws NFL quarterbacks make. He won't be facing pass-rush pressure at his pro day, so it's not a true test, but it could serve as an important first step toward earning a mid-round draft slot.
2. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State: Jones and Miller should work together on impressing scouts on the practice field. Miller's 4.5 40 time was slower than expected, so it would be helpful for his stock if he timed in the 4.35 range at his pro day. But his agilities (i.e. 6.65-second three-cone drill) were outstanding in Indy, so athleticism really isn't Miller's issue. During position drills, he looked like more of a project than a prospect ready to contribute immediately at the next level. Of course, he doesn't have a lot of experience at wide receiver since he just began playing there last season after excelling as a quarterback. If he improves his route running and shows good hands at his combine, general managers will become more comfortable with the idea of selecting him with a top-50 pick.
3. Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma: Striker is viewed as a safety-linebacker tweener at 5-foot-11 and 227 pounds, so he needed an excellent combine to show scouts he can fit in their scheme. But his 4.80 40 time and very average jumps and agility times did not allow him to overcome any biases toward his size. If he significantly improves those numbers on campus, it would allow area scouts to plead with their coaches and general managers to take his toughness and production into account when deciding their final grades.
4. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona: After struggling with injuries throughout his junior season, Wright decided to enter the draft. However, measuring at less than six-feet tall and running a 4.90 40 did not help his cause. As a sophomore, Wright showed phenomenal instincts and toughness on his way to a litany of awards. Any team looking at that tape should recognize his talent. Besting his combine numbers at his pro day would push league decision-makers to point to that tape when setting his value.
5. Adolphus Washington, DE/DT, Ohio State: Washington was considered a rising player throughout the season, forcing teams to consider him as a potential starter at the three- or five-technique positions, depending on the defensive scheme. But his 40 time, agility-test results, and jump measurements were in line with nose-tackle prospects that outweighed him by 10-15 pounds. In some years, below-average results like Washington's might not have affected his draft stock; this year, however, there is so much competition for first- or second-round consideration that losing any tiebreaker will result in getting "the call" later in the draft. He would help himself greatly with better numbers at his pro day.
6. Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana: Miller is a heck of a football player, as he showed for four years in college and at the Reese's Senior Bowl in January. But a player coming out of the FCS needs to do everything he can to prove he belongs in the NFL. A 4.65 40 and less-than-appealing agility scores are not the results he needed to keep up with other second- or third-round cornerback prospects. Teams will be very interested to see if he can ramp up his speed a bit.
7. Darian Thompson, S, Boise State: Without a doubt, Thompson is one of the top safeties in the draft. But his 4.69 40 and slow agility times did not help him match up with Florida's Keanu Neal, who is one of his main competitors for a spot in the top-50 overall selections. Thompson needs to put up better numbers at his pro day to stay in the conversation.
8. Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson: The injury bug also bit Dodd at the combine, as he suffered a hamstring injury while running his second 40. In his first run, he put up a respectable 4.86 at 6-5, 277 pounds, so things were going his way. But after the injury, he couldn't participate in on-field drills and missed out on the agility drills. In a draft without a lot of first round-caliber pass-rush prospects, Dodd will likely be a first-round pick, so I don't list him too high on this list. But a great pro-day workout could secure him a place in the top 8-12 spots, which is why he's worth mentioning here.
9. Jack Allen, C, Michigan State: No one questions Allen's ability to lead an offensive line, and I suspect he'll get a chance to start at the next level. But we're talking about draft positioning here. As the shortest (6-1 1/4) and lightest (294 pounds) offensive lineman at the combine, there was a certain level of athleticism expected by scouts. In some tests, he did just fine (1.81 10-yard split), but in others he did not (7.9 three cone). I'm guessing his weight at his pro day will exceed 300 pounds, since it's unlikely he'll re-run his 40 after clocking a 5.29. He could improve his 23 bench reps, too, to show the upper-body strength to hold off pro nose tackles that will outweigh him by 50 pounds. With guys like Isaac Seumalo and, probably, Cody Whitehair likely to get looks in the pivot by NFL teams, Allen needs to put his best foot forward to keep pace.
10. Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU: There's a slew of offensive tackles, including Hawkins, that could be selected in the second or third round of this year's draft. He started at left tackle and right tackle for LSU, and NFL scouts aren't sure where he best fits on Sundays. Hawkins didn't provide answers during his combine workouts. He was a relatively lean 305 pounds, but his jumps didn't show much lower-body explosion, and his shuttle and three-cone results were among the worst of all linemen. As a three-year starter in the SEC who presents good length for the tackle position, Hawkins is a good NFL prospect. Rallying during tests at his pro day could help him line up his resume with others in that top-80-prospect tier.