Future pro football players began reporting for the 2014 NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, with the first player weigh-ins scheduled for today, and workouts set to begin on Saturday. Offensive linemen and tight ends weigh in today to officially get the ball rolling on the interesting stuff.
Now that the week's festivities are beginning - they include Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone speaking with reporters at 11:15 this morning - let's take a minute to debate the names of the most compelling prospects at this year's Combine. I chose nine players (because the Bills pick ninth, get it?), and listed them in no particular order, to get the conversation rolling. My list focuses on potential Top 10 picks, but I'm sure many of you are keeping an eye on lower-round prospects, so let's hear those, too.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. There are no "big" receivers that look like plug-and-play No. 1 guys this year, in my opinion. Watkins isn't the type of tall receiver that fans covet to complement the talent on hand, but players as dynamic as Watkins don't need to be big. He'd immediately become the Bills' best receiver.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. He's raw, and probably won't ever be a complete tight end, but his athletic talents and receiving ability make him worthy of a pick in the top half of the first round. Ebron has All-Pro potential, and his abilities complement those of the Bills' current receiving corps well.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M. Mock drafts continue to drop this guy out of the top five, and it's difficult to understand why. (Well, no it isn't; the answer is "quarterbacks".) Matthews is a day one starter at a premium position with no major points of concern on or off the field. He's arguably the best prospect in the draft.
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn. The redshirt sophomore was a dominant force on the offensive line of the national runners-up, and has as much upside as anyone in this year's draft class. That upside could slot him ahead of Matthews, who might have been the No. 1 overall pick had he declared a year ago.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan. There are significant off-field concerns to double- and triple-check with Lewan, but on the field, he, too, looks like a day one starter that can spend a decade starting on either side of your line. The off-field stuff puts him a slot below the other two tackles here, but the gap isn't huge.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. His stock took a pretty significant hit in his junior season, as he registered just three sacks in 2013 amidst concerns about his dedication and work ethic following a summer of hype as the future No. 1 overall pick. He still might be picked there, because he's unbelievably talented.
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo. Mack will be a different sort of three-down linebacker in the NFL, because not only can he play the run and cover, he can also rush the passer. Linebackers with Mack's skill set are rare. He can play in any defensive system currently employed in the NFL.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama. He is a bit skill redundant with Buffalo's beloved linebacker, Kiko Alonso, but Mosley is a better and more explosive athlete. Mosley, too, is a three-down capable linebacker, and having two of those would be a tremendous advantage for new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. The Bills have plenty of hurdles to cross with Jairus Byrd. Add in the fact that Aaron Williams has never played a fully healthy pro season in three years, and safety is a bigger need area than most realize. Pryor is a stud, capable of covering deep or making plays near the line of scrimmage.