Who to keep an eye on at the NFL combine this week

FILE - Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) rushes Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Nov. 27, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The road to the NFL draft has started and the next stop on this trip is the NFL combine. With the Jaguars owning the No. 1 overall pick and 10 other selections in the NFL draft the Jaguars scouting staff has a lot of work to do. The NFL combine is the best place for NFL teams to get information on some of the top players in the NFL draft. A total of 324 prospects have been invited to work out at Lucas Oil stadium.

The event started on Monday and goes through Sunday.

Monday through Wednesday consists of prospects going through orientation and medical examinations. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke are both scheduled to speak to the media on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the on-field work begins.

Quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers will work out on Thursday.

Offensive lineman, running backs and special teams will work out on Friday.

Defensive lineman and linebackers will work out on Saturday.

Defensive backs will work out on Sunday.

The numbers in these on-field workouts will have a dramatic impact on the stock for players. Who to keep an eye on at the combine this week.

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

Hutchinson is considered by many the top defensive player in this year’s draft class. If there is a knock on Hutchinson it is that he is not seen as a “freak athlete.” In an interview, Hutchinson said he planned to “light up” the combine. If Hutchinson can put his explosiveness on display, he could cement himself as the No. 1 pick.

Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty

No, the Jaguars are not in the market to draft a QB but if they want to trade the No. 1 overall pick, they need someone else to want to. This year’s QB class does not have the gotta-have-him guy. Willis has the most upside of any QB in this year’s class. If Willis can perform well in interviews and field drills maybe he can convince a team that they gotta have him. That would allow the Jaguars to trade out of the top pick.

Justyn Ross, Wide receiver, Clemson

It is widely expected that the Jaguars will look to add some firepower to their offense this offseason to help Trevor Lawrence. Ross already knows Lawrence pretty well since the pair played together at Clemson. If it wasn’t for a spinal surgery, Ross would be a more highly touted receiver. If Ross can pass all of the medical checks and run a solid 40 time in Indy he could see his stock rise. His familiarity with Lawrence would make him an interesting mid-round option for the Jaguars.

Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive tackle, N.C. State

Ekwonu has been a late riser and a player some have suggested deserves to be in the conversation for the No. 1 pick. If Ekwonu’s meteoric rise is going to end with him being the top pick in the draft, he will need to be a rock star both on the field and off the field in Indy and convince decision-makers that he can quickly refine the underdeveloped portions of his game.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.