Each year, I find myself reaching an irrational level of excitement about the arrival of the NFL Scouting Combine (March 1-4 on NFL Network).
While some complain that the event takes a measure of athletic ability that doesn't always translate once the pads are on, I view it as a chance to get as many of the top prospects as possible in one place at the same time. Now, teams can't afford to use draft picks on unproductive players lacking competitive spirit and physicality, even if they test well in Indy -- their film and recommendations from coaches are still the keys to their evaluation. However, seeing the physical tools for each player in direct comparison to their peers is also part of the projection process -- one that should not be overlooked.
General managers, scouts and coaches also get a chance to talk to prospects during combine interviews and watch them interact with coaches on the field. The combine is a non-contact event, but league personnel will take away something about the competitiveness of each player based on his willingness to listen attentively and give full effort in the drills.
This mock draft is only one possible scenario for how things will play out once picks are being made in April, using the information we have heading into the combine. The 102 selections listed here take into account team needs at this very moment, as well as the talent of the prospects. Free agency, which begins on March 13, will obviously alter the outlook for each organization.
If Okereke is still available here, the Raiders can acquire the intelligent and athletic second-level defender they need to lead their defense.
The Niners need depth on the edge and Nelson will provide hustle and strength off the bench as a rookie, growing into a bigger role in time.
Jones' best NFL position could be 5-technique, a position at which the Jets may need more bodies if they lose players in free agency.
[Leonard Fournette](/player/leonardfournette/2557973/profile)'s had his issues, [Carlos Hyde](/player/carloshyde/2543743/profile) seems to be in decline and [T.J. Yeldon](/player/t.j.yeldon/2552471/profile)'s contract is expiring, so the Jags may need to find depth at the running back position.
Lamar will help patrol in the middle of the Tampa Bay defense.
The Broncos' return game was one of the worst in the league in 2018. Hardman, a likely combine star, will bring explosiveness on special teams initially and then could become a big-time receiving threat.
[Tyler Eifert](/player/tylereifert/2540148/profile), [Tyler Kroft](/player/tylerkroft/2552586/profile), and [C.J. Uzomah](/player/c.j.uzomah/2552559/profile) are all free agents. It's unclear if any of them will return, so it's Nauta stretch to think this underutilized receiver at Georgia could be a nice target for [Andy Dalton](/player/andydalton/2495143/profile) in 2019.
Arcega-Whiteside could significantly improve his draft status by testing well at the combine. If he doesn't, a team will still understand that his ability to fight for the ball in traffic will help him succeed at the next level.
Savage is a very good coverage safety who can tackle in space and create turnovers. I won't be shocked if he goes anywhere from the mid-second round to the mid-third round.
Thornhill is an experienced and versatile player who could step into a starting free safety role for Washington.
Omenihu could become a strong two-way end for the Dolphins, possessing the strength to play the run and motor to attack quarterbacks.
Hanks did not get much pub playing in Las Cruces, but he nonetheless will upgrade the Steelers' interior defense.
[Kerryon Johnson](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/kerryon-johnson?id=32462018-0002-5600-5225-62a270a0dee0) missed six games due to injury last season and [LeGarrette Blount](/player/legarretteblount/497149/profile) is due to become a free agent. Sanders was a bit underrated after following [Saquon Barkley](https://www.nfl.com/prospects/saquon-barkley?id=32462018-0002-5599-01e7-82f405a9a7e5) at PSU -- a big showing at the combine will bring him into the forefront.
[Andrew Luck](/player/andrewluck/2533031/profile) needs more reliable receivers when teams bracket [T.Y. Hilton](/player/t.y.hilton/2532865/profile). Johnson should become just that for the [Colts](/teams/indianapoliscolts/profile?team=IND), as he is one of the more pro-ready pass catchers in the class.
[Dak Prescott](/player/dakprescott/2555260/profile) missed former third-round pick Jason Witten during 2018. Another former SEC tight end, Moreau has the athleticism and blocking ability necessary to be a starter in the league for a long time.
The Chargers don't have many bodies on the defensive line. Gaines possesses the ability to hold up against double teams as well as collapse the pocket with foot quickness and strong hands.
A team has doubled up on cornerbacks in the first three rounds in 15 of the last 20 drafts. The Chiefs need to bolster their depth at the position, and Ballentine brings athleticism and tenacity in coverage.
Layne has intriguing size. Displaying agility and speed at the combine will push him up draft boards.
Powers could step into the left guard spot if multiple veteran free-agent linemen go elsewhere in the spring.
McLaurin's speed, improving hands and special teams prowess will earn him fans in Foxborough.
Saunders may be asked to contribute immediately, depending on how Jacksonville manages its roster this offseason.
[Lamarcus Joyner](/player/lamarcusjoyner/2543492/profile) is due to become a free agent, so the [Rams](/teams/losangelesrams/profile?team=LA) might need to address the safety position alongside 2017 third-round pick [John Johnson](/player/johnjohnson/2558183/profile) III. Gant is a physical player who pops off the tape.
If Cajuste tests well in Indy, he could go higher. He is a good value as a swing tackle prospect at this point in the draft.
[Terrell Suggs](/player/terrellsuggs/2505660/profile) and [Za'Darius Smith](/player/za'dariussmith/2552279/profile) are impending free agents. Adding Jelks to a mix that includes another third-round pick, [Tim Williams](/player/timwilliams/2557841/profile), could set the team up well for the future.