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Draft Dose: Prospects with things to prove

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By Andrew Struckmeyer

An NFL draft prospect's stock doesn't stop changing just because their college season is over. Over the few months between bowl season and their names being called at Radio City Music Hall, these prospects will attempt to raise their draft stock through NFL Scouting Combine testing, pro days, workouts for teams, as well as interviews and Wonderlic tests. In the 11th installment of the Draft Dose series, we take a look at what some of the top prospects have to prove during this all-important three-month period.

CB Patrick Peterson

Peterson has publicly said that he wanted to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.2s. He barely missed his mark at the Combine, posting a 4.34 40-time. An impressive time like that certainly helps his draft stock, but more importantly than that, Peterson needs to prove that he has enough hip flexibility to stay with receivers. Peterson has already drawn comparison to Antonio Cromartie, and some believe his size, at 6-0, 219 pounds, make him a better fit at safety. Peterson needs to prove he doesn't just have straight-line speed and that he can stick at corner.

DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, WR Greg Little

These three get grouped together since they had to sit out last year at North Carolina because of NCAA suspensions. All will have to prove that they are still in football shape and have maintained their skills during their time off. Austin for one showed up in good shape at the East-West Shrine Game, and if the others can show similar fitness levels, then their stock shouldn't slip. Quinn's and Austin's impressive Combine performances helped their cause.

QB Ryan Mallett

Rumors of drug use surfaced a few days before the Combine, and it became the focus of Mallett's interviews with the media. After repeatedly refusing to comment on the issue, Mallett cut short his interview session. Already a prospect labeled with character concerns, Mallett will have to prove that he can be a franchise leader off the field. Mallett also faced questions about his accuracy and decision making, though he threw the ball well in Indy. While he did throw more check-downs this season, Mallett has yet to show the type of pinpoint accuracy desired in a first-round quarterback.

CB Prince Amukamara

Coming off a standout junior season at Nebraska, Amukamara's reputation might have worked against him. Since very few quarterbacks tested Amukamara as a senior, there were very few opportunities to show how he plays the ball in the air. When there were opportunities, the results were mixed. Amukamara has top-10 potential and could really solidify himself in that range if he proves that he has the ball skills desired in a shutdown corner. He ran well at the Combine to boost his stock.

DE Adrian Clayborn

Clayborn had a decorated career at Iowa bull-rushing defenders from the right end spot. However, Clayborn has Erb's Palsy in his right shoulder, a condition he has had since birth. Clayborn will need to pass teams' medical inspections, and prove that he has the ability to be effective from the left side, where he would have to use that right shoulder in his stance.

OLB Von Miller

Miller put on a show at the Senior Bowl, showing vicious pass rush moves as well as the ability to make plays in space from an outside linebacker spot. Miller could play the outside 'backer spot in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, and is a projected top-10 pick. So what's the problem? He weighed in at 246 pounds at the Combine, making him lighter than other 3-4 outside linebackers. For example, Brian Orakpo of the Redskins and Clay Matthews of the Packers are both listed at 255 pounds, and LaMarr Woodley of the Steelers and Terrell Suggs of the Ravens both tip the scales at around 260 pounds. Miller stands to gain if he can put on some pounds, while also proving that he hasn't lost any of the explosiveness that enabled him to terrorize offensive linemen in college.

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