Every year, die-hard football fans and self-admitted NFL draft geeks tune in to watch the Scouting Combine to get a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow. And every year — like clockwork — a couple of Combine participants come out of nowhere and wow us. They grab the headlines coming out of Indianapolis and shuffle mock drafts all over the web. They go from virtual unknowns to players you are dying for your team to draft — all based on how they work out in spandex shorts.
Here are five players who could impress during the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
In a crowded class at the quarterback position, one name you really need to dig for in the tea leaves is Lauletta. The signal-caller out of Richmond from the FCS ranks was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl, throwing for 198 yards and three touchdowns — earning the game's Most Outstanding Player award. Watching him on film, Lauletta looks and plays like Jimmy Garoppolo, showcasing a strong arm and decent mobility. He could shine at the Combine among a group of prospects at his position with plenty of question marks.
Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
Lazard has been one of the more impressive and talented receivers in college football over the last three years. His rare combination of size, strength, speed and dependable hands make him one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire draft. His biggest obstacle throughout his career has been being tucked away in Ames, Iowa — tied to the historical reputation of the Iowa State program. In 2017, however, the Cyclones had a breakout season. As a result, Lazard was visible on some larger stages. In Indianapolis, he'll be alongside players at his position who have garnered more headlines, yet may be less talented.
Zachary Crabtree, OT, Oklahoma State
Crabtree spent his collegiate career playing in one of college football's most pass-happy offenses in Stillwater. He has all of the size (6-7, 310) you want at the offensive tackle position in the NFL. What may separate him from the pack in Indianapolis is his footwork. He is especially nimble for his size thanks to his basketball background. He should shine in pass-blocking drills and elevate his stock as a result.
Kemoko Turay, OLB, Rutgers
A lot of people are falling in love with Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, mostly because of his freak size and athleticism. Turay should be viewed as a nice consolation prize and a serious value pick for any team that wants Edmunds and doesn't get him. Like Edmunds, you can plug Turay into any linebacker spot and know he's going to excel and make plays. He might even be a step faster than Edmunds, but we'll find out for sure at the Combine.
Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
Minkah Fitzpatrick is hogging all of the love and attention at the cornerback position right now. Teammate and fellow cornerback Brown played in 50 games during his career for the Crimson Tide. His name wasn't mentioned much, largely because he rarely got beat. He's a sure tackler close to the line of scrimmage, which should help his cause. At the Combine, however, he'll likely shine and make headlines with his 40-yard dash time. He's an All-American track star for Alabama and was the Texas 4A State champion in the 110 hurdles and runner-up in the 100 meter dash in high school.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.