The NFL Combine, also known as the NFL Draft Underwear Olympics, is one of the most essential events of the NFL Draft process as hundreds of prospects will travel to Indianapolis to get poked and prodded by 32 NFL teams. From the official measurements to the on-field drills to the medical examinations, the Combine puts each prospect in the same environment to grade them in a number of different ways.
But even with 335 prospects invited, there are still several notable omissions from this year's official list. A record 98 underclassmen declared early for the NFL Draft, but only 85 are on the Combine list, meaning 13 players who left school early weren't invited, including Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith who was surprisingly not one of the 19 quarterbacks invited.
Below are the top Combine snubs at each position, as well as a surprise invitee:
Quarterback – Brett Smith, Wyoming
One of the 13 underclassmen who declared early and didn't receive a Combine invite, Smith doesn't have elite physical tools, but he's an athletic, confident and decisive passer who set numerous school and conference records in college. He needs to develop his decision-making, but is tough, gutsy and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Smith arrived at Wyoming as an underrated recruit and leaves Wyoming as an underrated NFL prospect.
OTHER QB SNUBS: Kenny Guiton (Ohio State), Tommy Rees (Notre Dame), James Franklin (Missouri)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED QB INVITEE: Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M
Running Back – Zach Bauman, North Arizona
Undersized at 5-7 and 196 pounds, Bauman was one of only nine players in FCS history to rush for 1,000+ yards four times, earning All-Big Sky honors each season. He doesn't look like much and lacks a power element, but is quick-footed to make explosive jump cuts and pick his way through the defense. Bauman runs low to the ground with a light lower body to make fast, decisive moves and finish runs.
OTHER RB SNUBS: Brendan Bigelow (California), Darrin Reaves (UAB), Rajion Neal (Tennessee)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED RB INVITEE: Damian Williams, Oklahoma
Wide Receiver – Chandler Jones, San Jose State
After Noel Grigsby went down with an injury, Jones stepped up as the clear-cut No. 1 target for David Fales and the San Jose State offense, finishing the 2013 season with 79 catches for 1,356 yards and 15 receiving scores. He is undersized at 5-9 and 180 pounds, but creates separation with his foot quickness and natural burst and does a nice job finishing catches and creating after the catch.
OTHER WR SNUBS: Alex Amidon (Boston College), Eric Ward (Texas Tech), Erik Lora (Eastern Illinois)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED WR INVITEE: Philly Brown, Ohio State
Tight End/Fullback – Jay Prosch, Auburn
An athletic, smash-mouth blocker, Prosch had just five touches as a senior and zero carries, but he was still a big part of the Tigers offense, helping to create run lanes as a lead blocker. He has an intriguing blend of size, speed, and strength and showed at the Senior Bowl that he has the versatility to help out with the ball in his hands or running over defenders as a blocker.
OTHER TE/FB SNUBS: Gabe Holmes (Purdue), Ted Bolser (Indiana), Kaneakua Friel (BYU)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED TE/FB INVITEE: Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Offensive Line – Kevin Danser, Stanford
Danser, who started all 14 games at right guard each of the last two seasons, needs to learn patience, often overextending himself, but he works hard to finish. He flashes a killer instinct and enjoys mauling defenders in the run game with his physical, competitive nature. Danser has the temperament for the NFL, but needs time to adjust to the speed of the next level and improve his discipline.
OTHER OL SNUBS: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (McGill), Matt Hall (Belhaven), Danny Kistler (Montana)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED OL INVITEE: Corey Linsley, Ohio State
Defensive End – Chaz Sutton, South Carolina
Rushing off the edge opposite Jadeveon Clowney, Sutton totaled the same number of sacks (three) in 2013 as the future 1st rounder. He needs to play more controlled and finish, but he has some intriguing tools to stop the run and disrupt the pocket – he just struggles to do it consistently.
OTHER DE SNUBS: Walker May (Vanderbilt), Ben Gardner (Stanford), Denico Autry (Mississippi State)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED DE INVITEE: Kasim Edebali, Boston College
Defensive Tackle – Bruce Gaston, Purdue
After a notable junior season playing next to Kawann Short, Gaston had a ho-hum senior season as he struggled to adjust to Purdue's new 3-4 defensive scheme. He looks the part and has good snap quickness to attack gaps and keep his hips low to anchor at the point of attack. Gaston had a positive week at the East-West Shrine game and is considered draftable.
OTHER DT SNUBS: Calvin Barnett (Oklahoma State), Wade Keliikipi (Oregon), Beau Allen)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED DT INVITEE: Mike Pennel, Colorado State – Pueblo
Linebacker – Morgan Breslin, USC
A junior college transfer last year, Breslin burst onto the scene with a team-best 13.0 sacks for the Trojans in 2012. However, he battled injuries this past season as a senior, finishing with just 4.5 sacks in five games. Breslin underwent hip surgery in November and might be trying to receive a medical hardship waiver to play in 2014 for the Trojans.
OTHER LB SNUBS: DeDe Lattimore, Shaquil Barrett, Eddie Lackey
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED LB INVITEE: Jordan Tripp, Montana
Cornerback – Shaquille Richardson, Arizona
A tall, long-armed defensive back, Richardson has an intriguing mix of size and speed, which is a very popular combination right now in the NFL. He has enough hip fluidity and foot quickness to play in space and play close to the line of scrimmage in press, but he needs to play with more consistency in coverage and vs. the run. Richardson had a positive week at the East-West Shrine practices and is a surprise omission from the Combine list.
OTHER CB SNUBS: Walt Aikens (Liberty), Carrington Byndom (Texas), Marcus Williams (North Dakota State)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED CB INVITEE: Dexter McDougle, Maryland
Safety – Denicos Allen, Michigan State
A key cog to the Spartan defense that won the Big Ten and Rose Bowl this past season, Allen played mostly linebacker at Michigan State but projects to more of a hybrid safety role at the next level. His “tweener” skill-set creates some concern, but he has the mental make-up and tenacity to play the run and drop in space.
OTHER S SNUBS: Sean Parker (Washington), Alden Darby (Arizona State), Hakeem Smith (Louisville)
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED INVITEE: Nat Berhe, San Diego State