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NFL Combine preview: Thibodeaux is the biggest name, but two other prospects could steal the spotlight

Three dozen Pac-12 players will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine this week, with on-field workouts beginning Thursday in Indianapolis.

One prospect, Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, the potential No. 1 overall pick, is expected to receive an outsized share of attention.

But as the four-day event unfolds, the spotlight could shift to two participants who played the same position for the same team: Washington cornerbacks Kyler Gordon and Trent McDuffie have the skill sets to shine  and the opportunity to climb draft boards across the NFL.

“The speed testing matters most for one position, and that is cornerback position,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah told recently. “You will see guys fluctuate on the board based off their time at that position more than any other.”

Jeremiah then singled out Gordon and McDuffie as players to watch.

“I really like them now, but I think you’ll continue to see them elevate,” he said. “Kyler Gordon — I don’t know that a lot of people are familiar with him. He’s very tall, he’s very long, he’s going to run in the 4.3s (for the 40-yard dash). He’s going to jump over 40 inches. You’re really going to see his name start buzzing after the Combine.

“I’ve been a Trent McDuffie guy for a long time. He’s probably going to run high 4.3s, at worst (in the) low 4.4s, and jump around 40 inches.

“Both of these guys are legit first-round players. And I know Husky fans are going ‘Why didn’t we win any games?’ It wasn’t their fault, okay? There were a lot of other issues. Those guys are legit.”

Arizona State leads the conference with eight participants, followed by Oregon with six and USC and UCLA with five each.

No Pac-12 quarterbacks were invited for the first time since 2014, but 10 defensive backs made the list.

The NFL Network will televise the on-field workouts each afternoon.

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Here’s the workout schedule:

Thursday: quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends
Friday: running backs and offensive linemen
Saturday: defensive linemen and linebackers
Sunday: defensive backs

In addition to Gordon and McDuffie, we’re intrigued by these 10 players:

(Caveat: Injuries undisclosed to the public could prevent players from participating in specific drills.)

USC Edge Drake Jackson: This draft is loaded with top-tier edge rushers. A terrific athlete, Jackson must distinguish himself this week and show scouts that, with added muscle mass over time, he could be a starting-caliber player at the next level.

Colorado LB Nate Landman: His production was off the charts until an Achilles injury at the end of the 2020 season,  followed by a shoulder problem in ’21. Landman isn’t an elite athlete who needs to show enough speed and lateral quickness to climb into the late rounds.

Utah LB Devin Lloyd: This week is all about confirmation for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year: Will he substantiate the all-around game that scouts have seen on tape? If so, Lloyd should emerge from Indianapolis as a projected top-15 selection.

USC WR Drake London: His size, strength and hands are good enough for a top-five placement on draft boards, but there are questions about his speed and whether he can gain separation from cornerbacks. Coming off a broken ankle, London’s participation in running drills is uncertain.

Washington TE Cade Otton: The latest from a program that has produced so many quality tight ends over the decades. Otton possesses the size and skills required to start at the next level. How will he compare to other top tight ends like UCLA’s Greg Dulcich and Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert.

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