The scouting for the 2011 NFL Draft kicks up another notch this week in Indianapolis during the Scouting Combine.
Among the 325 prospects on hand will be OU's Jeremy Beal, Quinton Carter and DeMarco Murray, and OSU's Ugo Chinasa, Kendall Hunter and Orie Lemon. In a full week of medical exams and physical and psychological testing, this will be a chance for Bedlam's best to make a lasting impression with NFL executives.
How they, and others, perform will go a long way in determining where — and if — they get drafted come April.
Previewing the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine:
LOCALS IN THE COMBINE
The one with the most to gain: OSU running back Kendall Hunter
Hunter, who had a stellar Senior Bowl week, could continue to help himself with a brisk 40-yard dash. The strength is there, the quickness is there. If the straight-line speed also is there, and the ankle checks out in the medical exams, Hunter could become one of the top five backs to come off the board.
The one who should dazzle in the interviews: OU safety Quinton Carter
The Sooner All-American is soft-spoken, but scouts will fall in love with the work Carter has done off the field. Coupled with a strong performance in the physical testing, Carter could assure himself of being a third-round pick, maybe better.
The one with the most to lose in the medical exam: OU running back DeMarco Murray
The OU running back is on the fringe of being a second-round pick. But should any of his past injuries become an issue during the medical exams, that will surely drop his stock considering he has durability questions.
The one who could surprise: OSU defensive end Ugo Chinasa
At best, Chinasa is a late-round pick going into the combine. But if he can show off his underrated quickness and speed, Chinasa could catch someone's eye. He needs a strong performance in the physical testing drills.
The one who could disappoint: OU defensive end Jeremy Beal
Like former Sooner Curtis Lofton, combine testing is not Beal's forte. His 40 time won't be good, and he won't impress in any of the other physical testing categories, either. But like Lofton, Beal is a ballplayer, and the team that overlooks Beal's combine numbers could end up with a steal in the draft.
The one who needs to be solid: OSU linebacker Orie Lemon
Lemon is rated the No. 4 overall inside linebacker by ESPN. To stick there, Lemon needs to run relatively well, and prove to scouts the knee that was operated on in 2009 is good to go.
NOTABLES AT THE COMBINE
Oklahoma: Jeremy Beal (DL), Quinton Carter (DB), DeMarco Murray (RB), Adrian Taylor (DL)
Oklahoma State: Dan Bailey (K), Ugo Chinasa (DL), Kendall Hunter (RB), Orie Lemon (LB), Andrew McGee (DB)
Tulsa: Charles Clay (TE)
Locals: Derrick Locke, Hugo, Kentucky (RB); Colby Whitlock, Noble, Texas Tech (DL)
Big 12 notables: Sam Acho, Texas (DL); Prince Amukamara, Nebraska (DB); Blaine Gabbert, Missouri (QB); Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M (QB); Von Miller, Texas A&M (OLB)
National notables: Nick Fairley, Auburn (DL); A.J. Green, Georgia (WR); Mark Ingram, Alabama (RB); Julio Jones, Alabama (WR); Jake Locker, Washington (QB); Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (QB); Cam Newton, Auburn (QB); Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State (RB)
FOUR STORYLINES FOR THE NFL SCOUTING COMBINE
1. Is Patrick Peterson as fast as advertised?
The LSU cornerback said he plans to run a 4.3 40-yard dash at the combine. If he comes anywhere near that, Peterson could assure himself of being one of the top 3 picks in the draft.
2. How will Cam Newton perform, on and off the field?
Auburn's Heisman-winning but controversial quarterback said earlier this week he plans to fully participate in the combine. That includes what's sure to be a rigorous interview process with league executives who figure to be full of questions. Newton could win teams over, but he could also scare them away.
3. How rusty will Robert Quinn be?
For the first time in awhile, scouts will get to evaluate the North Carolina defensive end, who was suspended for the entire 2010 season because of NCAA violations. Quinn is still relatively raw, but is loaded with potential and could coerce someone to take him in the Top 10.
4. What will Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett show?
Either quarterback could work his way into the Top 15. But either player could also fall into the second round. The physical tools are there, but both have a lot to prove at the combine: Locker with his accuracy, Mallett with his footwork. The interviews and Wonderlic tests will also be critical for the two enigmatic quarterbacks.
NFL SCOUTING COMBINE SCHEDULE
FEBRUARY 23-MARCH 1
Day 1 Arrivals
Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
Wednesday: travel, registration, pre-exam and X-ray, orientation, interviews
Thursday: measurements, exams, media, psych tests, interviews
Friday: NFLPA meeting, psych tests, PK/ST workout, interviews
Saturday: workout (timing, stations, skill drills), departure
Day 2 Arrivals
Group 4 (QB, WR), Group 5 (QB, WR), Group 6 (RB)
Thursday: travel, registration, pre-exam and X-ray, orientation, interviews
Friday: measurements, exams, media, psych tests, interviews
Saturday: NFLPA meeting, psych tests, workout, interviews
Sunday: workout (timing, stations, skill drills), departure
Day 3 Arrivals
Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
Friday: travel, registration, pre-exam and X-ray, orientation, interviews
Saturday: measurements, exams, media, psych tests, interviews
Sunday: NFLPA meeting, psych tests, workout, interviews
Monday: workout (timing, stations, skill drills), departure
FEB. 26-MARCH 1
Day 4 Arrivals
Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)
Saturday: travel, registration, pre-exam and X-ray, orientation, interviews
Sunday: measurements, exams, media, psych tests, interviews
Monday: NFLPA meeting, psych tests, workout, interviews
Tuesday: workout (timing, stations, skill drills), departure