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Ten prospects to watch at the NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine gets under way next week, and as usual, much of the best talent in this year's draft class will be on display. Here are 10 top players to watch when workouts begin at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium:

Edge rusher Josh Allen, Kentucky

Allen averaged 1.4 sacks per game last year against Power 5 competition, including multi-sack games against South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. He also racked up 21.5 tackles for loss in Kentucky's 13 games last year.

If Allen works out at the Combine, he should be able to do well in quickness drills and in defensive position drills. Allen was also solid in coverage for the Wildcats, and his ability to backpedal and change direction will help him in Indianapolis.

Edge rusher Nick Bosa, Ohio State

His 2018 season was cut short by a muscle tear after just three games, and he quickly declared his intention to turn pro for this year's draft. But he'd already proven his worth as a premier pass rusher, posting 8.5 sacks in his final seven games for the Buckeyes, including four to close the 2017 season. Bosa recorded at least one sack in each of those seven games.

Comparisons to his older brother (Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers) will abound, but they are different types of players; Nick Bosa will be used more off the edge and can rely on his speed, while Joey Bosa can go to the interior and rely on a blend of speed and power.

Defensive lineman Rashan Gary, Michigan

Gary has the speed and quickness to work on the edge, but the size to rotate to the inside and create mismatches against interior offensive linemen. His versatility could make him a Swiss-army-knife front-seven player capable of lining up in multiple spots, and his explosiveness off the snap gives him a chance to break into the backfield and disrupt opposing passes. He should do well at his size in quickness drills such as the three-cone and the short shuttle if he works out in Indianapolis.

Edge rusher Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

After posting 38 tackles for loss and 21 sacks in the last two seasons -- including 11.5 last year -- Ferrell is likely to be the first of multiple Clemson defensive linemen selected in the draft. Ferrell doesn't rely on a single pass-rush move, but instead uses an array of tactics to beat opposing offensive tackles and tight ends. He also is stout at the point of attack against the run.

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Haskins says he wants to take part in most of the on-field work at the Combine, including running and passing drills. But the biggest test for him is going to come in meetings and when he gets up to the white board. 

"I just want to kill interviews," he said Feb. 1. "Just be able to get on the board and show how much I know, to be able to analyze film and analyze protections and give coaches and GMs and scouts an idea of my personality and my character."

One of the knocks on Haskins is his limited starting experience -- just one season. It is similar to the chatter around North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky two years ago before the Chicago Bears traded up to take him with the No. 2 overall pick. It took Trubisky until his second season to show signs of his potential. But that had as much to do with scheme issues as with his experience.

Despite the lack of work prior to 2019, Haskins still finished fourth in FBS last year in completion percentage, connecting on 70 percent of his passes.

"I just feel like I've scratched the surface of what I can do," Haskins said.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson, Iowa

What separates Hockenson from his stellar Hawkeyes teammate, Noah Fant, is his frame. While the 241-pound Fant projects as a tight end that will operate in space more often, the 250-pound Hockenson offers the versatility to work as an in-line tight end and help in run blocking and pass protection. He won the John Mackey Award last year after amassing 760 yards and six touchdowns on 49 receptions. Hockenson's production and skill set draws comparisons to another Iowa product, 49ers Pro Bowler George Kittle.

Quarterback Drew Lock, Missouri

A solid Senior Bowl week ensured that he didn't take a step backward following a stretch at the end of his senior season that was the best of his college career. In a similar vein to Haskins, the most important work for Lock will come during interviews. In those conversations, Lock must show that he has the personality needed to lead a team and the intelligence and quick processor necessary to absorb a pro scheme.

Cornerback Byron Murphy, Washington

The most physical cornerback among the potential first-round picks at the position, Murphy's willingness to make plays against the run enhances his considerable skills in coverage. Murphy broke up nine passes and intercepted four last season. According to the numbers compiled by Pro Football Focus, Murphy allowed opposing quarterbacks to muster a 54.5 rating on the NFL passer-rating scale when throwing in his direction, and he committed just one penalty throughout the season.

Murphy's performance last year made him the highest-graded cornerback in FBS in PFF's rankings.

Defensive lineman Ed Oliver, Houston

Oliver took the rare step of declaring his intention to turn pro after the 2018 season last March. At times last year, Oliver was spectacular, showing flashes of the form that made him the Outland Trophy winner in 2017. But he missed time with a knee injury and ended up playing in just eight of the Cougars' 13 games last year.

Oliver's physical attributes give him a chance to dominate the Combine workouts, but he isn't likely to be the first defensive lineman off the board from a class that is stacked at his position.

Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, Alabama

With eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss last year, Williams had statistical production to back up his prodigious talent. The explosive redshirt sophomore was nearly unblockable in one-on-one situations. He was also disruptive when double-teamed, using the force generated by his quick burst off the snap to push into the backfield and collapse the pocket despite the extra attention. It's tough to block Williams without holding him, and in that he evokes thoughts of Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.

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