The soar in popularity of the NFL Draft has led to the emergence of a crucial draft-related activity, the NFL Scouting Combine.
Dubbed "the annual job fair for prospective new NFL players", the NFL Scouting Combine has blossomed from humble beginnings into a nationally televised affair that NFL fans have become increasingly interested in.
Without question, the NFL Scouting Combine is only a piece to the puzzle when it comes to evaluating college athletes looking to make the jump to the next level. Thought it's still several years away, there's a handful of high school athletes who appear destined for mind-boggling combine performances. These elite athletes have dominated the high school playing field thanks in large part to their immense physical gifts and might even make a splash if they were in Indianapolis this weekend.
Bradley Sylve, WR, South Plaquemines (Port Sulphur, La.), class of 2011.
Although his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame is not built for the NFL Scouting Combine quite yet, he possesses the one trait that is most fawned over at the combine: speed.
Svyle is one of the fastest players in the country regardless of grade. No sophomore posted a better time in the 100-meter dash than Sylve's 10.35 last spring. He also recorded times of 10.47 and 10.48 last spring.
In the 55m dash last year, Sylve ran a remarkable 6.31, which is faster than any time nationally this year.
By the time he's a high school senior, he projects to be one of the country's fastest athletes. In college, he'll likely run track and improve his world class speed even more. In the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, Syvle would hold his own. With proper technique coaching and training, and given the fact that South Plaquemines, created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, doesn't even have a track for Sylve to practice on, it's safe to say he'll do more than that down the road.
Dorial Green, WR, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.), class of 2012.
If he had been a senior this season, Dorial Green likely would have been one of the top five wide receivers in the country. The good news for Hillcrest, and the bad news for its opponents, is that Green was only a sophomore during the 2009 season.
Green has some of the most impressive physical gifts of any receiver in recent memory. He is 6-5, 215 pounds and will be running under 11 seconds in the 100m dash once the outdoor track season rolls around. Very rarely are receivers endowed with both size and speed.
"Every day in practice, he does something that makes you say, 'Did you see that?'" Hillcrest head football coach John Beckman said.
According to Beckham, Green greatly improved his hands from his freshman to sophomore season. In total, he has over 2,400 receiving yards and nearly 40 touchdowns in just two seasons of varsity football despite facing constant double teams. Regardless of class or position, Green will be one of the country's top football players in 2010. You can probably pencil in his ticket to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE , South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.), class of 2011.
While NFL scouts are buzzing about Carlos Dunlap for the 2010 NFL Draft, they are likely to fall in love with Jadeveon Clowney at a future combine.
Clowney is terrorizing high school quarterbacks in the Palmetto State just like the current Florida Gators defensive end once did. His 6-6, 235-pound frame is not far from Dunlap's current 6-6, 240-pound build. With another year of high school left, and several years of college football remaining, Clowney could be a Dunlap clone before long.
As a junior, Clowney compiled 144 tackles and a whopping 23 sacks. He also blocked four passes and caused three fumbles.
"He's a monster," said Barry Byers, assistant sports editor at The Herald. "I wrote a story early in the season and compared the way he plays with the way Julius Peppers did at UNC and early in his NFL career."
Samuel Harvill, DT, Shiloh Christian (Springdale, Ark.), class of 2011.
Put simply, Harvill is one of the strongest football players in the country. In fact, Harvill would probably be at the top of the totem pole in the bench-press at this year's NFL Scouting Combine.
The record-holder for bench-press at the U.S. Army All-American Combine, Harvill has unworldly strength. The 6-1, 270-pound defensive tackle has benched 225 pounds for a whopping 41 reps; the bench-press leader in 2009 was Texas Tech guard Louis Vasquez, a third-round pick of the Chargers, who put up 39.
Harvill still has to work on other aspects of his game to match his strength. If he does that, he'll become an even more sought-after recruit. If he proves himself in the college ranks, it's already certain he'll have an impressive combine performance.
Barry Sanders, RB, Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, Okla.), class of 2012.
Barry Sanders Jr. - Heritage Hall, Okla.
Much has already been written about Barry Sanders, the Heritage Hall phenom who has been blessed with his father's football abilities.
In his two varsity seasons, the 5-11, 185-pound phenom has already led his team to a state title, been named to Oklahoma's all-state team, earned MaxPreps Sophomore All-American honors and produced a jaw-dropping highlight tape.
His running style is strikingly familiar, as he eludes tacklers just like his father once did. His balance and change of direction skills are superb, which would allow him to excel in the three-cone drill. The cone drill typically doesn't receive as much fanfare at the 40-yard dash, but it's a good way to gauge a player's agility. That plays to Sanders' strong suit, as Oklahoma defenses know all too well.