For NFL Draft prospects, the 2016 NFL Combine is a chance to stand out as an elite athlete in front of scouts, coaches and other NFL decision makers. There's no better way to stand out than to etch your name in the history books with a record-breaking performance in one of the many drills.
No Combine record is more sacred than Chris Johnson's 4.24 time in the 40-yard dash. The East Carolina speedster technically tied the record eight years ago at the 2008 NFL Combine, when he matched the mark set by Rondel Menendez in 1999, but the event has always carried some subjectivity about the exact numbers.
While teams use stopwatches and trust their own times, electronic timing has been used since 1999 and gives an "official" time that isn't actually used by talent evaluators. Still, adidas is offering $1 million to any player who can officially topple the mark currently held by Johnson and Menendez, so long as it is done in their cleats.
More than 300 athletes will take the field and attempt to break the current record of 4.24 seconds, which has stood for eight years. adidas Football has upped the ante for the fastest 40-yard dash time in adidas cleats each year since 2013, starting with an adidas endorsement deal in 2013, $100,000 to the single fastest time in 2014, $100,000 to the top three fastest times in 2015 and now $1 million dollars to the athlete who breaks the record.
But a historical mark in the 40-yard dash isn't the only way to grab spotlight and a spot in the record books. Just last year, Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones smashed the record in the broad jump by 8 inches just a couple months before he was taken in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
It's impossible to know if his spot in the first round was owed to the fact that he crushed the 2015 NFL Combine, but his performance certainly didn't hurt him.
Here are a few of the standing NFL Combine records and potential record breakers in the 2016 NFL Draft class:
Record: Chris Johnson and Rondel Menendez - 4.24 seconds
Electronic timing in the event has only been around since 1999, so the times of legends like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are just that ... legends. Jackson reportedly ran a 4.12 40-yard dash in 1986, which is nothing short of ridiculous, but might actually be true considering he reportedly ran a 4.18 in the same week.
In the electronically timed era, Johnson is the player who has been considered the king of the event for the last eight years and is the player everyone is chasing in 2016.
There isn't one particular player who comes in with legendary speed, but there are a few who are expected to post strong times and possibly contend with Johnson. Wide receivers Braxton Miller, Will Fuller and Kolby Listenbee should all time well and defensive backs Jalen Ramsey, Mackensie Alexander and LeShaun Sims could also challenge the mark later in the Combine.
Record: Gerald Sensabaugh - 46 inches
A 46-inch vertical jump didn't launch North Carolina safety Gerald Sensabaugh into the first round or even the first four rounds. Instead he went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2005 NFL Draft, but made a decent career for himself, starting 24 games in four seasons with the Jaguars before spending four seasons as a starting safety for the Dallas Cowboys.
His mark was challenged recently, but not quite beat, when Kansas City Chiefs third-round pick Chris Conley came just 1 inch away last year.
One of the favorites to record a jump of more than 40 inches is Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who started a campaign to get fans to pledge donations for every inch he can jump with money going to the Stand By the Wounded organization.
Record: Justin Ernest - 51 reps
When Oregon State's Stephen Paea benched 225 pounds 49 times in 2011, it was announced on NFL Network as the new NFL Combine record, which is weird because Eastern Kentucky's Justin Ernest set the mark in 1999 with 51 reps.
Ernest's mark in the NFL began and ended at the Combine with his bench press performance and he never played in a game after signing a contract with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent. Paea was taken in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, but never lived up to his draft status, although Washington gave him a four-year, $21 million contract in 2015.
Unsurprisingly, the drill is typically dominated by linemen, although it's usually players with short arms that post the most reps, which isn't the most desirable quality for prospects. In a class filled with high-level players to fill the trenches, guys like Andrew Billings, Vadal Alexander, Denver Kirkland, Christian Westerman and Antwaun Woods are among those who could threaten to reach 50 reps.
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