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10 SEC Players to Watch During the NFL Scouting Combine

A'Shawn Robinson

A'Shawn Robinson

There are nearly 75 SEC players participating in the NFL Scouting Combine this week. Every SEC school is represented. Alabama leads the way with nine players at the combine, while Vanderbilt has one. Beginning Friday, participants will compete in skill tests ranging from the 40-yard dash to bench press.

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As the NFL's official website puts it, the competition is "an intense, four-day job interview." With so many talented players performing, it will be tough to keep up with everyone. Luckily, you have this list of 10 SEC players look out for. 

1. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

Likely the first tight end taken this year, Henry has everything needed to make it at his position in the NFL. He has been compared to Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten on several occasions, mostly due to his route-running ability and strength. He is equally as good as a pass catcher as he is a blocker, making him a highly-wanted roster addition. He will be most fun to watch at the combine in the 3-cone drill, because of his unique ability to change directions. Also, look for him to surprise folks on the bench press.

2. A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

The first word that comes to mind with Robinson is "gifted." Just an absolute physical monster, he will shine at the Combine. His ability to not only stop the run, but also get to the quarterback will be sought after by NFL teams and you can bet everyone will be watching when he performs. He should be near the top of most physical contests in his group and will also do well interviewing. If his career achievements at Alabama are any indication, Robinson will rock the world at his four-day job interview.

3. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

This one is interesting because of the uncertainty. We know Prescott was a special player in the SEC, but the NFL is a far different challenge for quarterbacks. Will he be able to find the right fit in the NFL, something Tim Tebow could not do? Prescott is stout and tough, and he has proven he can withstand hits in the pocket. His arm strength is clearly his best attribute. Hopefully, we will get to see him prove that during the combine.

4. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

A lot of people think Tunsil could be the overall No. 1 pick if the Tennessee Titans want him. It isn't hard to fathom, considering he has just about every quality a team wants in a franchise tackle. His pass blocking is by far the best of any tackle invited to the Combine and his quickness should be on full display in the agility drills. The big question is, how will he do in the bench press? With all of his talents in pass protection, Tunsil has been criticized for lacking strength. He needs to show off his run blocking potential at the combine.

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5. Stephen Weatherly, LB, Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt only has one player at the Combine, but it's a good one. Weatherly was built more like a defensive end than an outside linebacker in college at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. Fortunately his size appears to be tailor-made for the NFL. As players increasingly become "hybrids," Weatherly should fit right in with his ability to rush off the edge, whether that includes being in a stance or standing up. He needs to have a good Combine to stand out amongst other talented linebackers.

6. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

He won the Heisman Trophy, so he's worth mentioning. A lot of eyes, especially in Tuscaloosa, will be on Henry to see if he can impress the scouts. Right now, most think Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliot is the top running back prospect. That has to weigh heavy on Henry, who is a relentless competitor. He has the name recognition and accolades, but he will need to have a strong showing in the vertical jump and 40-yard dash to improve his draft stock.


Related: 5 Players Who Need to Impress at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine

7. Marquez North, WR, Tennessee

It may not be fair, but to many, North will forever be known as a bust at Tennessee. After a promising freshman season, his career was riddled with injuries. That's why he made the list. North is a very intriguing prospect, having always possessed NFL-caliber skills. If he can stay healthy, he could be a surprise breakout player in the league. He has good hands and size, but needs to improve in route running and speed. A solid performance in the 40-yard dash would go a long ways toward improving his draft stock.

8. Germain Ifedi, OL, Texas A&M

Call it "O-Line U" if you'd like. Texas A&M is known for producing first-round NFL linemen. It has a three-year streak of doing so (Luke Joeckel '13, Jake Matthews '14, Cedric Ogbuehi '15). It will be interesting to see if Ifedi has what it takes to be the fourth in a row. He has NFL length for a lineman and could fit in at either guard or tackle. He specializes in pass blocking, which is obviously preferred in a quarterback league, but also gets after defensive linemen in the run game. Ifedi could continue the Aggies' streak if he has a good showing during positional drills on Friday.

9. Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State

Jones is another player who has that "hybrid" factor working for him. He's right on the fence when it comes to being a defensive tackle or defensive end, weighing in at just over 300 pounds. He is a solid tackler, and an even better pass rusher. Jones has obvious upper-body strength, so he should be one of the best defensive linemen on the bench press. He needs to work on getting quicker and staying lower.

10. Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn

When Barber announced he was leaving Auburn, it came as a bit of a surprise. Now, we know that Barber entered the draft because his mother is homeless. From an athletic standpoint, he has a chance. He's quick and agile, but needs to hit the hole straight on instead of dancing around. It would benefit him at the Combine if he can show off just how agile he is in the 3-cone drill. With the recent news about his mother, we will all be hoping he makes it. Even Alabama fans.

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.