SEC players looking to improve draft stock

Soon, a host of former college athletes will be thrown into the ultimate meat market. They'll be poked, prodded and interviewed until their faces turn blue at the NFL combine.

But it will all be worth it, as they attempt to take the next step in their football careers -- hearing their names called in April's NFL draft.

The combine provides athletes the opportunity to continue thoroughly impressing NFL scouts, coaches and general managers, but it also gives some under-the-radar athletes the chance to improve their stock heading into April. Forty-yard dash times, bench-press reps and verticals can go along way for players still looking to climb teams' draft boards.

ESPN's Steve Muench took a look at three prospects trying to do exactly that. Two just happen to come from the SEC in LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle and Ole Miss offensive tackle Bobby Massie.

Randle, who has a draft grade of 84, was LSU's top wide receiver in 2011, catching 53 passes for 917 yards and eight touchdowns. He proved to be too much for defensive backs at times in one-on-one situations with his size and speed. Randle's speed is also pretty good for someone with his frame. With better quarterback play, Randle might have made a bigger name for himself heading into the combine.

Here's some of what Muench said about Randle:

"In terms of draft positioning, Randle sits right behind South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery* (85), who is not expected to run well at the combine. If Randle posts a better 40-yard dash time and catches the ball as well as expected, while also showing some improvement in his routes during field drills, he could very well leapfrog Jeffery on the draft board. That would put him in position to land with a team like the Minnesota Vikings, who could be in the market for a receiver early in the second round."

For Massie, who has a draft grade of 76, 2011 could be considered a step back. Though Massie ended his career starting 29 straight games at right tackle, the Rebels owned one of the worst offenses around. The line gave up 31 sacks and the running game registered 541 yards of loss on the season, finishing 10th in the conference in rushing offense. Muench said that with his "above-average" athleticism, Massie could impress during one-on-one drills, and his 6-foot-6, 320-pound frame gives him ideal size for the tackle position.

Here's what Muench said about Massie:

"The 2012 tackle class is not all that strong, and with teams always looking for help at that position, Massie has an opportunity to move into the second-round conversation if he performs as well as expected. The Miami Dolphins need to address their quarterback need before anything else, but they would do well to get Massie on Day 2 (rounds 2-3). He could line up on the right side, teaming with standout LOT Jake Long to give the Dolphins the bookends they'll need in order for their quarterback to have time in the pocket."