Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston are among five players to keep an eye on at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The combine could be kind to Mariota, who is considered the most athletic quarterback in this year's draft class. Experts believe he could run a sub-4.6 40-yard dash and will perform well in the various physical tests. Whether or not Mariota throws at the combine is still to be determined. He injured his shoulder at the end of the 2014 season and may choose to throw for scouts at his pro day instead.
2. QB - Jameis Winston, Florida State
Early reports indicate that there is a possibility Winston may throw at the combine. "It's a game-time decision,'' George Whitfield Jr., Winston's quarterback coach, told USA TODAY on Monday. "He's a very big believer in himself, so it'll be interesting. He's prepared to do it. Whether he goes in and does it will probably be determined a couple of days from now." Whitfield added, "At this time, he hasn't made a decision.'' Winston is an 8-3 favorite to be selected first overall in this year's draft, according to the Buccaneers' latest Mock Draft Roundup. Should he throw and Mariota not, the gap could widen. Winston's performance off the field will be just as important. He will have to impress scouts and coaches in interviews to show that he won't be a liability outside of team facilities.
- WR – Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri**
Green-Beckham is a high-risk prospect with tremendous upside. "Outstanding talent," NFL Media's Bucky Brooks said. "Big body, strong hands, terrific ball skills. A guy that can really dominate on the perimeter when thrown the ball and given opportunities down the field." In high school in 2010, he was named the Gatorade Missouri Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. His experience on the track should help him with the timed drills at the combine. But there are red flags. After various violations, he was dismissed from Missouri following the 2013 season. He transferred to Oklahoma for 2014 but, per NCAA rules, was required to sit the season out. So he hasn't played in a game in more than a year. Like Winston, his performance in the interview room will be just as important as what he does on the field.
- RB – Jay Ajayi, Boise State**
Ajayi is a big, physical runner who can pick up yards after contact. Even better – he could be available come the second round. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah considers him the third-best runner in this year's draft class. "He is fun to watch on tape," Jeremiah said. "He powers through tackles, he can pull through tackles. He's got great vision and balance. Boise State's offense pretty much consisted of him and him alone this year."
5. T Andrus Peat, Stanford
Peat is young and still has some physical maturing to do, making it will be interesting to see how he performs in the bench press and other physical tests. Despite concerns, he is still considered a first-round caliber offensive lineman. "Andrus Peat from Stanford is gifted," NFL Media's Mike Mayock said on a conference call on Monday. "He looks like a right tackle or guard, but he's got left tackle feet, he's got length. He's not 21 years old yet, and he needs to get much stronger up top. Two years from now he's going to be a completely different kid just because of body type and strength, but he's a first-round pick."