Anticipation for the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine seems to increase yearly as the NFL Draft garners more and more coverage. This year's combine will feature over 300 athletes from the college ranks trying to prove their mettle in tests such as the 40-yard dash, bench press and vertical jump. Over the years, there have been many notable, and some not-so-notable, performances.
Once upon a time, the event didn't earn nearly the amount of attention it does today. The combine was started simply as a means to collect medical information on prospective pros. The first combine was attended by 163 players in Tampa in 1982. The location moved to New Orleans (1984, 1986) and Arizona (1985) before settling in Indianapolis in 1987 where it is still held to this day.
The 40-yard dash earns a lot attention in particular. Fastest man is obviously a highly coveted title, but offensive linemen draw almost as many eyes as the running backs and wide receivers for sheer spectacle alone. Andre Smith demonstrated a few years back the cruelty of putting enormous men on the testing track.
Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans ran the test in 4.24 seconds in 2008, the fastest recorded time in the 2000s. Bo Jackson reportedly clocked a time of 4.12 seconds on the turf of the New Orleans Superdome in 1986, though the effect of different surfaces as well as the element of human error has been debated endlessly over the years.
Other notable performances include Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea putting up 49 reps of 225 pounds in the 2011 bench press test, and the much discussed score of 16 by Vince Young on the 2006 Wonderlic intelligence test.
Complete combine records via Top End Sports:
4.24 - Rondel Melendez, WR, Eastern Kentucky - 1999
4.24 - Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina - 2008
4.28 - Jerome Mathis, WR, Hampton - 2005
4.28 - Champ Bailey, CB, Georgia - 1999
Bench Press (Most 225-Pound Reps)
51 - Justin Ernest, DT, Eastern Kentucky - 1999
45 - Mike Kudla, DE, Ohio State - 2006
45 - Leif Larsen, DT, Texas-El Paso - 2000
Vertical Jump (In Inches)
46 - Gerald Sensabaugh, FS, North Carolina - 2005
45 1/2 - Derek Wake, OLB, Penn State - 2005
45 - Chris McKenzie, CB, Arizona State - 2005
45 - Chris Chambers, WR, Wisconsin - 2001
1.43 - Aundrae Allison, WR, East Carolina - 2007
1.43 - Eric Weddle, SS, Utah - 2007
1.43 - Marcus McCauley, CB, Fresno State - 2007
1.45 - Leon Hall, CB, Michigan - 2007
3.73 - Kevin Kasper, WR, Iowa - 2001
3.76 - Deion Branch, WR, Louisville - 2002
3.78 - Dunta Robinson, CB, South Carolina - 2004
3.79 - Champ Bailey, CB, Georgia - 1999
6.45 - Sedrick Curry, CB, Texas A&M - 2000
6.48 - Rogers Beckett, FS, Marshall - 2000
6.49 - Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn - 2005
For more on the NFL Draft, visit the SB Nation blog Mocking the Draft.