- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NFL combine is set to begin, so let's take a look at some of the more intriguing storylines involving Big East players who have gotten an invitation to Indianapolis.
Scouts have raved about UConn linebacker Sio Moore, who played well in both his all-star game appearances last month. Now, Scouts Inc. expert Kevin Weidl says that Moore could continue his upward momentum with a good showing at the combine. Weidl writes, "He has helped his stock during the postseason process as much as any other prospect, and he should perform well in the 40 and the jumps. Doing so could help him get into the second-round mix after beginning the season as a Day 3 prospect."
Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce is also a prospect to watch, although he is unlikely to do any drills after getting hurt last month, an injury that forced him to skip the Senior Bowl. Still, draft experts are high on him. Mel Kiper has Kelce rated his No. 4 tight end in his latest breakdown of the Top 5 prospects at each position.
Several other Big East players are rated in Kiper's Top 5: linebacker Khaseem Greene at No. 2 among outside linebackers; Ryan Nassib at No. 5 among quarterbacks, and Justin Pugh at No. 5 among tackles. (For more information on Syracuse players, pop over to the ACC blog).
You know who else is rated? Louisville center Mario Benavides, ranked No. 5 among available centers. Strangely enough, Benavides was not extended an invitation to the combine, the biggest snub involving Big East players. The NFL handed out 333 invites but not one to the best center in the Big East the last two years, and a finalist for the Rimington Award in 2012? The deserves a C'mon, Man! Benavides was surprised, but he's still training in Naples, Fla., with Clif Marshall at Ignition APG. One bit of news that should make scouts happy -- Benavides already has put on 15 pounds and is up to 295. Benavides says he played this past season with little to no upper body strength, after offseason surgery hampered his training. He's now lifting hard for the first time in a year, so the weight has come on. A little extra motivation has helped, too.
I will be interested to see how Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan and running back Jawan Jamison do at the combine, and whether they can improve their draft stock. Both players left school with a year of eligibility remaining. Jamison seemed to make the more questionable decision, but he says he got a third-round draft grade. He hopes Ray Rice's success can help him out.
Workouts begin Saturday for tight ends, offensive linemen and special teams.