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Why defensive linemen keep getting faster at the NFL Draft Combine

What are they feeding defensive linemen nowadays?

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive line group at the 2023 NFL Combine was fast.

Like, really fast.

Abnormally fast.

Like, really, really, really fast.

This year at the NFL Draft combine, it feels like the crop of defensive linemen as a whole are faster and more explosive. We know about Nolan Smith running a 4.39, but even defensive tackle Calijah Kancey ran a 4.67 at 281 pounds, the fastest time for a defensive tackle since 2003.

Even the more underrated guys were showing out in the explosiveness drills. Oklahoma’s Jalen Redmond ran a 4.81 40 yard dash at 291 pounds is extremely impressive. Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore ran a 4.49 at 282 pounds, which feels scientifically impossible.

So why are all of these large human beings running so fast? What’s been the biggest change over time? Well, the biggest difference has been in science and body-specific training. As we advance in knowledge and college strength and conditioning coaches become more knowledgeable about maximizing the output of the human body, you’re going to get a lot better times than we did in, say 2012.

On top of that, more money is being poured into strength and conditioning units at major college football programs, meaning the output should be better. Let’s take Nolan Smith’s alma mater, Georgia. Georgia has been putting wave after wave of Power Ranger into the NFL, and where the Bulldogs can help their recruits is in their strength program and what they put into every players’ bodies. After running his 40, Smith basically cut a promo for Georgia, saying that Georgia just built an entire restaurant in their athletic center, where players get steak and lobster. That’ll definitely help your athletic development.

With the future of sports science getting more and more player specific, don’t be surprised if more records fall at every position in the near future.