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2012 NFL Combine Preview: Prospects to Watch

By: Roshan Bhagat

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina - The offseason is generally biggest for pass rushers-particularly those that stand a chance of playing on their feet at the next level. Melvin Ingram is arguably the most versatile pass rusher in the class with the ability to play at end, tackle, or outside linebacker. While his 40 will be exciting to watch, it'll be more interesting to see how he does in the cone, shuttle, and linebacker drills. A strong performance will expand the number of parties in contention for him.

Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, North Carolina - Drawing some comparisons to a certain UNC defensive end of nearly a decade ago, Coples freakish size and length are sure to have left an impression on several teams holding high draft picks. His motor has often been questioned, which suggests the interview process will be crucial for him. Coples' camp has indicated he will go through the full workout, which should give the league a chance to take note of his exact athletic measurements and more importantly, give some teams a chance to see how he looks on his feet.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina - There have been rumors since the end of the season that one of the more polarizing receivers in the class had bulked up to 249 and was running his 40 in the 4.8s. More recent reports indicate that he's under 220 and looking to run his 40 in the 4.5's. Jeffery won't necessarily light up Indianapolis, but a solid time for his size will help ensure his stock doesn't plummet. A tenth of a second in the wrong direction could easily drop him at least a round.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State - After seeing what Julio Jones and AJ Green a year ago in Indy and how favorably their absurd athleticism translated to the pros, teams will keep a close eye on Justin Blackmon. He isn't expected to wow scouts in the same manner as the 2011-classers, but sneaking below the 4.5 barrier would be immense for his stock and ease concerns over his deep speed.

Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida - Each year, the excitement of the Combine answers the question of who is the fastest player in the draft. So far, the frontrunner is probably Chris Rainey who will threaten to break the 4.3 mark. He's a player whose stock is largely reliant on his elite speed on the field, so a mere tenth of a second could spell disaster in his draft day experience.

Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina - With average size and strength, Brown promises to turn heads with ridiculous athleticism. As a sophomore in college, he set a school record in the indoor 60-meter dash. While he's bulked up since then, he may very well clock-in in the 4.3 range. It will be more important to see how he moves in the lateral agility tests. He figures to be an intriguing prospect for 4-3 teams looks to get quicker at the chase WILL linebacker.

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