NFL Draft: 5 prospects whose combine performances loom especially large

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Louisiana Tech EDGE Jaylon Ferguson won't get the opportunity to explain his 2015 arrest on a simple battery charge at the NFL scouting combine, which begins at the end of February. Ferguson had his invitation rescinded, so he'll join Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons and Colorado State WR Preston Williams, fellow prospects not in attendance at the pre-draft event in Indianapolis, where the NFL told teams anyone with a violent criminal charge in their history is prohibited.

Ferguson is a first-round talent in the eyes of PFW draft expert Greg Gabriel. But the NCAA's all-time sack leader, thanks to the NFL's ridiculous rule, now has one less chance to answer on- and off-field questions, increasing the importance of his pro day and private workouts.

But here are 5 prospects not named Kyler Murray who will be in attendance in Indianapolis, whose interviews and workouts will have a profound effect on when their names are called in April:

Florida EDGE Jachai Polite

Few squads will doubt the on-field credentials of Polite, who had 11 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss last season and who plays the game with unbridled energy, terrific power and instincts. Instead, it's his measurables that could mean the difference between him being a surefire first-rounder and slipping, even possibly into early on Day 2.

Polite is listed on his Florida bio as 6-foot-2 and 242 pounds, but there are concerns he might not reach the 6-2 threshold, where every first-round pass rusher since Melvin Ingram (18th overall in 2012) has measured at the least.

Ohio State OL Isaiah Prince

Like Polite, Prince's talent is unassailable. Unlike Polite, Prince rarely plays to his. A frequent mistake-maker and lackadaisical performer, he started for three seasons on the right edge at Ohio State, flashing second-round ability.

Teams will want to know, however, why he was so often on a different page than his linemates and how top-notch coaching didn't correct his unrefined understanding of leverage and hand use. Prince has unique traits; teams already digging deep on his mental makeup and ability to reach his ceiling will get their first opportunity to look him in the eyes in seeking those answers.

Texas DL Charles Omenihu

He was regularly deployed as an interior down lineman at Texas, where his unique length and underrated pass-rush prowess perhaps weren't entirely maximized. Can Omenihu, who measured 6-5 5/8 and 274 pounds at the Senior Bowl, learn to play on his feet and potentially become an outside linebacker? Agility tests and positional workouts in Indy should provide a strong indicator.

Does Omenihu have the suddenness to play some in coverage? The awareness to get proper depth in his drops and ball skills to affect the passing game in space? It's tough to tell on film because it's such a big projection, but Omenihu has tantalizing traits.

Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta'amu

Ta'amu flashed starter traits in his brief time at Ole Miss, including arm talent, athleticism and downfield touch and accuracy. They were merely flashes, though, as he only had a year-and-a-half of major college starting experience and tape to evaluate and determine his offensive knowledge.

The Hawaii native starred at New Mexico Military Institute prior to settling in Oxford, where he compiled a 30-12 TD-INT ratio and 9.5-yard attempt average alongside 507 yards and 10 touchdowns on 173 carries. He's talented but raw, and the combine will be an opportunity to begin showing teams his learning curve might isn't too steep.

Michigan CB David Long

A big-time player for the Wolverines the past two seasons, Long has the versatility, quickness and instincts to be an excellent NFL nickel back. And anyone who doubts the increasing importance of that position might want to go back and watch Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman toying with the Rams.

The question is whether he has the height and speed to play in the boundary. Long is more quick than fast and might not measure much over 5-10, small-ish by today's NFL standards. Already a solid Day 2 prospect, Long can help himself if he surprises us by eclipsing the 4.5 40 mark and perhaps even comfortably clearing 5010.

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