When the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine begins Feb. 24 in Indianapolis, West Virginia running back Noel Devine will have a lot of work to do. Despite a stellar career with the Mountaineers, Devine's 2011 NFL Draft stock took a big hit during the Senior Bowl in January.
All you have to do is look at the headlines generated by Devine's work during that All-Star showcase in Mobile, Ala.
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay summed up Devine's Senior Bowl week this way:
"I think WVU RB Noel Devine has hurt his draft stock. Inability to break tackles and gets lost in passing game. Third-day prospect."
The biggest problem is Devine's size. Smallish speed backs are becoming more accepted in an increasingly wide open, pass-oriented NFL. But, you still have to be able to find them and get them the ball. During Senior Bowl practices, reports were that quarterbacks were saying they simply could not locate the 5-foot-7, 160-pound Devine when looking through on-rushing defensive linemen. That, obviously, is an issue.
Devine will have to convince NFL scouts and general managers that, at the very least, his speed and big-play ability could allow him to become a game-changing kick returner.