At the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis, 335 draft hopefuls will hit the field at Lucas Oil Stadium hoping to make 32 front offices swoon. For many players, the combine represents the best opportunity to get noticed and show what they can do, whether that is reinforcing what was shown on tape, dispelling preconceived notions or illustrating why they should have been given more playing time.
They will have plenty of opportunities to impress, with every position group going through a host of drills including the three-cone drill, 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle run and bench press. From there, each group will go through specialized drills tailored to test a specific skill set.
The combine has seen some very memorable showings since the event began back in 1982. Before that, teams could only see prospects by attending games and/or holding private workouts. Below are the records for each of the drills done by every player. Keep in mind, electronic timing wasn't used until 1999.
|Bench press||Justin Ernest, E. Kentucky||1999||51|
|40-yard dash (pre-1999)||Bo Jackson, Auburn||1986||4.12|
|40-yard dash (post-1999)||Chris Johnson, East Carolina||2008||4.24|
|3-cone drill||Jeff Maehl, Oregon||2011||6.42|
|20-yard shuttle||Kevin Kasper, Iowa||2001||3.73|
|Broad jump||Scott Starks, Wisconsin||2005||11'5''|
|Vertical jump||Gerald Sensabaugh, North Carolina||2005||46''|
Those are some pretty impressive numbers. Running back Chris Johnson notched a 4.24 in the 40-yard dash back in 2008, which is the fastest when it comes to electronic timing, but Jackson's record is considered legitimate as the fastest "verifiable" 40-yard dash time. So we've included both, before electronic timing and after. Johnson actually shares his record with Rondel Melendez of Eastern Kentucky in 1999, though he did not amount to much in the NFL.
To this day, Jackson is recognized as one of the greatest athletes of all time, and his 40-yard dash time only reinforces that. Despite the fact that he said he wouldn't sign with them, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still named him the No. 1 overall pick in 1986. He did follow through on his threat.
Justin Ernest's 51 reps on the bench press was set in 1999, meaning it's stood the longest behind Jackson's 40-yard dash time. Stephen Paea came very close to tying it in 2011, putting up 49 reps, but Ernest's record held. Unfortunately, Ernest didn't end up playing in the regular season after signing on with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent. Still, that might have been the catalyst for him even getting an offer.
The rest of the records are more recent. Gerald Sensabaugh's 2005 record in the vertical jump -- 46 inches -- is significant. He increased his draft stock a good deal, as many pegged him as a sixth- or seventh-round selection. He went on to have a decent, if unremarkable career, but did put his jumping skills to use when snagging some interceptions. Scott Starks' broad jump also came in 2005, and he ended up getting a healthy boost to his stock, being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round.
Kevin Kasper set the record for the 20-yard shuttle in 2001, and was drafted in the sixth round. He didn't do much once he made it to the NFL, but he did win a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Jeff Maehl is the most recent record-breaker, managing to complete the 3-cone drill in 6.42 seconds in 2011. Maehl is currently with the Philadelphia Eagles.