Over the course of the NFL scouting combine, a number of players will create a buzz that will carry them into the April draft. I asked a few NFL scouts to predict which players they think will make the most noise in Indy. This is what they said.
Ziggy Ansah, Brigham Young DE—He had a few ups and downs during Senior Bowl week, but he can make NFL teams forget all the downs if he turns in a strong combine performance, as expected. One scout said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Ansah run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4s at 270 pounds.
Terron Armstead, Arkansas Pine Bluff OT—He may be a bit raw, but that won’t matter now. Armstead’s athleticism should reflect well on him, especially in comparison to big school competition.
Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina G—He has rare athleticism for a player his size. His flexibility, change of direction and foot quickness will stand out in drills. But as one front office man pointed out, NFL teams don’t need confirmation with Cooper—it’s all on the tape.
Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International S—He has momentum on his side after a strong Senior Bowl showing. Cyprien has the NFL’s attention. He does not have to light it up. He just has to perform well in comparison to the other top safeties.
Zaviar Gooden, Missouri OLB—This is a classic case of someone who might be a better athlete than player. He could run in the 4.4s. Said one front office man, “He will test out of the gym.”
Marquise Goodwin, Texas WR—He could be the 40-yard dash star. Or the vertical jump star. His stock has been on an upward trend, and should continue. The key for him might be catching the football.
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma OT—This former quarterback/tight end/defensive end is likely to be the most athletic testing tackle at the combine. His perceived “lack of power” will not be noticed in Indianapolis.
Dion Jordan, Oregon DE—He has a chance to really help himself, and he should fare very well in his workout. Jordan’s speed and explosion could make him a very high draft pick.
Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee WR—This juco transfer and early draft entrant remains somewhat of a mystery to a lot of NFL front office men because he is raw and has a limited body of work. But, as one said, he looks like the most explosive receiver in the draft, and no one was more potential. The combine should be his coming out party.
Geno Smith, West Virginia QB—NFL teams are most interested to interview him and get him on the board, but in the athletic events Smith definitely should look like a first round pick.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.