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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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Ten to Watch At the NFL Scouting Combine

Posted Feb 21, 2012

Is Oklahome State's Justin Blackmon in the Redskins' future? Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald offers 10 prospects to keep an eye on this week as the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis unfolds.


No more meetings. Now it’s time for the Redskins' coaches and scouts to see firsthand what most of the top college prospects are all about at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The combine kicks off on Wednesday, with first workouts beginning on Thursday, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Redskins hold the No. 6 pick in the first round of the draft.

Even though team officials have identified positions of need by this point, they still want to evaluate every player to finalize their draft board.

Head coach Mike Shanahan, general manager Bruce Allen and director of player personnel Scott Campbell are among team officials in Indy this week.

Who are some of the top prospects who could get a close look by the Redskins’ talent evaluators?

Here are 10 to keep an eye on as the NFL Scouting Combine unfolds, starting on Saturday:

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Widely regarded as the top wide receiver in this year’s draft, the 6-1, 215-pound Blackmon has been compared by some to Anquan Boldin, the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver. Catching passes from top quarterback prospect Brandon Weeden, Blackmon has logged 100 catches and 1,500 receiving yards each of the last two years as well as 40 career touchdown grabs. Scouts say he lacks great straight-line speed but he excels beating press coverage and running clean routes.

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Would the Redskins draft a nose tackle to join Barry Cofield and Chris Neild? Seems unlikely, but Brockers has been moving fast up draft boards and he could be a game-changing talent. Coaches say you can never have too many quality nose tackles, so don’t discount Brockers. The 6-6, 306-pounder is still somewhat raw, especially rushing the passer, but his instinctive play and nose for the football should allow him to dominate as a run-stuffer as a rookie. He logged 54 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss, and two sacks last year.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

The Redskins could look to fortify the secondary with an elite talent in Claiborne. A two-year starter at LSU, Claiborne has posted 11 career interceptions including six last year. His size stands out – he is 6-0 and 185 pounds and possesses great athleticism and unusually long arms, traits that should allow him to match up well with any type of receiver. Claiborne also doesn’t shy away from tackling in run defense – he posted 51 tackles last year.

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Should the Redskins decide to trade back in the first round, then DeCastro – described by scouts as a can’t-miss prospect on the interior offensive line – could be a target. At Stanford, Andrew Luck had to have time in the pocket to become an elite college passer, and one of the linemen he can thank is DeCastro, the 6-5, 312-pound guard. DeCastro is a solid anchor on the inside, a run-blocker who can excel in zone blocking and reach the second level in a hurry. Scouts say he has thrived due to excellent technique, toughness and smarts.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

With Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney advancing in age, the Redskins could target wide receiver in the draft – the team has not developed a true No. 1 at the position since, well, Art Monk. Early signs are encouraging with Leonard Hankerson, but he is coming off a season-ending injury. Along with Blackmon, Floyd is one of the top prospects. A three-year starter for the Irish, he caught a career-best 100 passes for 1,147 yards to go along with nine touchdown grabs. He has great suddenness coming off the line of scrimmage and his 6-3, 224-pound frame makes him a threat catching balls in traffic. Alcohol-related legal issues have cropped up in his past, though.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Sure, everyone will keep an eye on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, but it’s a foregone conclusion that the Indianapolis Colts will select Luck with the top overall pick. Plenty more intrigue surrounds Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner. He flashed potential as a freshman starter in 2008 but suffered a season-ending knee injury the following season. He started each of the last two years, compiling remarkable numbers. Last season, he completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The 6-2, 220-pounder played in a spread offense, so there’ll be an adjustment to the NFL game and especially NFL blitzes, but his arm strength, accuracy and mobility make him a potential franchise quarterback.

Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

What if the Redskins are unable to re-sign London Fletcher and he departs in free agency? All of sudden there is an apparent need at inside linebacker. Kuechly, like Fletcher the last 10 years, was a tackling machine, recording 532 tackles at Boston College the last few years. A versatile performer, he also had 35.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and seven interceptions. At 6-3 and 237 pounds, he has good size to match up in coverage across the middle. If he runs a 4.7 40 at the combine, then he could vault himself into the top 15 of the draft, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock says.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

If the Redskins target an elite offensive tackle, it’s likely that USC’s Ryan Kalil – the top prospect at the position – won’t be available at No. 6. Reiff would be a quality second option, though. A former tight end, defensive tackle and guard, Reiff has started the last two years solely at left tackle. He earned All-Big 10 honors each of those years. Thanks to his versatility, scouts say he could play either left or right tackle in the pros. The 6-6, 300-pounder has good range as a pass blocker and a nasty streak that has aided him in run-blocking at Iowa.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Mike Shanahan has had success drafting running backs in the mid-rounds, but what if Richardson is there for the Redskins at No. 6? Richardson has been called the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. He dominated as a junior last year, posting 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns and averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He is also effective as a receiver out of the backfield, logging 29 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns last year. Like Peterson, Richardson is a physical runner and there’s some concern he could have a short NFL lifespan, but he should be a dominant force in the meantime.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

First things first: Tannehill is still rehabbing a foot injury and he won’t throw or perform in drills at the combine. He reportedly is waiting for his Pro Day to showcase his skills to NFL scouts. Meantime, coaches can get to know Tannehill in meeting rooms, break down film and find out how quickly he can pick up an NFL system. Tannehill is widely regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, even though he has played the position just two years at the college level. (He started at Texas A&M as a wide receiver.) Last season, Tannehill completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 3,744 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He may not be an immediate NFL starter, but scouts project him as a potential franchise quarterback.