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2015 NFL Combine Player Watch Primer: Who Really Matters?

NFL Network's Mike Mayock provided some of his initial opinion on some of the higher-profile underdogs at this year's combine.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

So it would appear that there are a handful of our players that are on Mayock's radar, and for a variety of reasons. Now that you know the kinds of things to look at in the evaluation process, here's a little more insight into the players themselves.

Martin Ifedi, DL, Memphis - Ifedi is an interesting guy. Good looking kid, physical specimen. I just want to see the whole package when he gets there. I want to see what he does in the weight room, see how he runs and I really want to see him in his position drill. I want to see if they stand him up and see him to do defensive end and outside linebacker drills because he's a big, physical, tough guy.

I do believe this is code for "I love you but you aren't big enough to survive as a true lineman at the next level." Hence your standard transition to rush end/outside linebacker that thousands before have succeeded at. Ifedi will get drafted, but his performance - including the versatility of his skill set 0 will play a big factor in where.

Brandon Bridge, QB, South Alabama - Brandon Bridge is interesting. I saw him make a comment that said he could extend plays and he had the best arm of anybody at the combine. He's got a live arm. He's got a whip, 6'5". I'm anxious to watch him throw. He's a project. He's very raw. He has no clue what he's doing. I watched his Navy game. He brought them back and almost won the game late, lost on a two-point conversion. He's got a whip, it's just he has no idea what he's doing yet.

I can attest to this assessment from first-hand experience. I always struggled to think of a good way to describe Bridge's game, and I think "guy who could be a world-class sprinter... if he could just figure out how to stop tripping when he walks" is pretty apt. He does indeed have all the raw tools to make a huge impact. One that he will never make unless he can figure out how to make sound decisions within the system he is in.

Christian Covington, DT, Rice - I like him a lot, very smart kid, had a chance to do what he was doing. I met the kid. I know the ancestry with his father who is in the Canadian Hall of Fame. The kid is as smart as can be. He's quick, a three technique. Probably a mid-round guy. I wish he was healthy the last couple years full-time. I like him because he's smart and tough. David Bailiff does a great job at Rice. And I think that kid has a good future ahead of him.

So I'm not entirely sure here, but I think there's an outside chance that Covington is what the scouts refer to as "smart." He won't be working out at the combine, but as long as his knee checks out and he interviews well, he will shoot up a number of draft boards once he is able to have his own pro day.

David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa - Intriguing kid, tremendous size at running back combined with an ability to catch the football. He caught 203 yards worth of passes from the tailback position. He's got great hands. He runs routes. He made a couple stutter moves on the linebacker at Iowa that were just awesome. Then he comes to the Senior Bowl and did everything well. My one nitpick with him would be given his size at 225, 230 pounds, I'd like him to be more consistently physical instead of just kind of bracing for contact. I'd like to see him embrace contact. I'd like to see him be more physical and finish. But I think at this point I've got a third-round grade on him, and he could go even higher.

Another performance I saw first hand (the Senior Bowl). He was impressive, and I'm not sure I agree with Mayock. Traditionally, yes, you want raw physicality from a back his size. You also don't see the kind of speed that Johnson has in a player his size. He has succeeded to this point by merely running away from the competition. The gap between he and his opponents will vanish in the NFL, but he has the build to handle the increased physicality and the speed/agility to at least occasionally avoid it if he wants.

Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida - I put the Perriman tape on about three weeks ago and I almost fell over, and then I had a bunch of people tell me he didn't have good hands, and boy, do I disagree with that, even though he's got more drops than he should. There's kind of a way to interpret that. A wide receiver who has too many drops should have bad hands, right? Well, I look at his hands and say he makes acrobatic catches, he makes high point catches, he makes contested catches,however, once in a while he drops an easy ball, but I think he's a natural hands catcher. I think he's got height and weight. I think he runs good routes. To me he looks like a first-round wide receiver. I need to see what he's going to run this week. If he runs 4.50, 4.48, 4.51, people are going to be looking at him as a potential first-round wide receiver, and they should.

This is always a good thing to hear. As many a talent scout will tell you, the first concern is whether or not a guy can perform a certain skill. Once he's done it even one single time, your job is much easier, because all you have to do is get him to be successful consistently. Perriman's issue is ability, not consistency, though I doubt any real debates about his pass-catching ability will be resolved while running in shorts.