More than 300 potential 2022 NFL Draft picks will be making the trek to Indianapolis in the first week of March for the league's annual Scouting Combine, which returns to action after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the NFL released its full list of 324 prospects who have been invited to this year's Combine, which runs from March 1-7 and is conducted at Lucas Oil Stadium. On-field workouts begin on Thursday, March 3. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be represented by a full cadre of coaches, scouts and player personnel executives, including Head Coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Jason Licht.
As always, the Combine will be headlined by some of college football's biggest stars, including such potential top-five picks as edge rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon and Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan, standout offensive tackles Ikem Ekwonu of North Carolina State and Evan Neal of Alabama, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr.
The Combine is also a stage for some small-school prospects who were fortunate to get invites, as was the case with Hobart's Ali Marpet in 2015. The Buccaneers drafted Marpet, who just returned from his first Pro Bowl, in the second round of that year's draft. Some of the small-school prospects this year include Missouri Western State linebacker Sam Webb, Fayetteville State defensive back Joshua Wilson and Culver-Stockton offensive lineman Andrew Rupcich. Fayetteville State last had a player drafted by the NFL in 1976, but that's relatively modern compared to the one draft pick Culver-Stockton can claim from 1946.
And, of course, the Combine is a golden opportunity for talent evaluators to compare the quarterback prospects trying to secure first-round status. A true consensus as to what order this year's top quarterbacks will come off the board has yet to coalesce, but we could be closer to the answer after the Combine. Among the most notable QB prospects this year are Liberty's Malik Willis, Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickette, Mississippi's Matt Corral, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and North Carolina's Sam Howell.
National Champion Georgia is sending the most players to the Combine, with 14. That includes such potential first-round picks as defensive linemen Travon Walker, Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt and linebackers Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker. Alabama and Oklahoma were next with 11 invitees each.