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13 Most Surprising Performances in NFL Combine History

Carl StineCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2013

13 Most Surprising Performances in NFL Combine History

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    The NFL Scouting Combine has been around in one form or another since 1977.

    However, it wasn't until the birth of the NFL Network in the past decade that we have seen the event develop into an easily accessible event.

    Anyone can watch hours of coverage and analysis of the event, whether it's actually accurate or not, which has not always been the case.

    The players on this list has the most surprising performances in NFL combine history.

    Other than one throwback to the '80's, all of them are from recent NFL seasons, 2000 to the present.

    It seems that every season, we have some sort of surprise performance, whether positive in nature or negative, these are the best and worst in recent memory.

13. Bruce Campbell, 2010

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    When the time for the 2010 combine arrived, Campbell stood 6'6" and weighed in at 314 pounds.

    That's a big boy.

    And that big boy proceeded to put up insane numbers for a man his size, leading to a pick in the fourth round by the Raiders.

    Though he's not one of the better linemen in the NFL, Campbell's performance was one of the best ever by a player at the position.

    He ran a 4.85 40-yard dash, and put up 34 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

12. Dezmon Briscoe, 2010

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    Briscoe was clearly not motivated for the combine when his time came back in 2010.

    The wide receiver from Kansas was not expected to put up huge numbers, but he really outdid himself in his level of inefficacy.

    After posting an incredibly slow 4.61 time in the 40-yard dash, Briscoe proceeded to cement his "bust" status by putting up only nine reps at the bench press.

    His inability or lack of desire to perform led to a sixth-round pick.

11. Stephen Paea, 2011

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    Going into the 2011 combine, I think just about everybody knew that Paea was strong.

    But he absolutely blew folks away with his strength by putting up 49 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds, the most any rookie had put up at the combine in over a decade.

    Lots of reps were expected from Paea, but nearly 50 is an insane number.

    Paea cashed in on that performance of strength and was drafted in the second round by the Bears.

10. Anthony Davis, 2010

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    Davis' performance was not the worst in history, but it did raise some questions.

    Offensive linemen are supposed to be strong, and while 19-21 reps on a 225-pound bench press is nothing to sneeze at and happens occasionally with guys at the position, it can be a concern.

    Davis only put up the bar 21 times, which is well below what was expected.

    And while the 40-yard dash does not exactly provide a benchmark for offensive line talent in the NFL, he was timed at 5.3, which is almost slower than molasses in January.

    So far, things have worked out in the NFL with the Niners for Davis, but that combine performance could have been much better.

9. Deion Sanders, 1989

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    Not overly surprising, given Deion's flair for the dramatic, but he gave us one of the best stories in combine history when he performed in '89.

    "Prime Time" arrived at the combine, participated in one event, the 40-yard dash.

    And boy did he ever participate.

    He clocked a 4.2, and kept right on rolling out of the facility into a waiting limousine.

    Just another day in the life of one of the most talented football players on the planet.

8. Matt Jones, 2005

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    Matt Jones played quarterback at Arkansas, but his athletic ability and performance at the combine while trying to make an NFL roster as a wide receiver earned him fame.

    He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at 6'6", 237 pounds and jumped almost 40 inches on his vertical.

    Those numbers were good enough to see him drafted in the first round by Jacksonville, and Jones spent some time at the position before his career was ended by substance use.

    For a 6'6" 237-pound quarterback, being able to put up those kinds of numbers is absolutely ridiculous.

7. Darrius Heyward-Bey, 2009

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    Playing for Maryland at a time when the Terrapins where not exactly world-beaters, Darrius Heyward-Bey had an excellent career, but few opportunities to showcase his skill and talent on a big-time stage.

    So when the opportunity to participate in the 2009 combine presented itself, he needed to step up in order to see his draft stock get a boost.

    After running a 4.3 40-yard dash and looking extremely comfortable in the gauntlet drill, it became apparent that Heyward-Bey was an excellent talent.

    His blazing speed helped contribute to being picked seventh overall by Al Davis and the Raiders.

6. Vernon Davis, 2006

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    Davis' performance at the combine was transcendent.

    He was the top-rated player at the tight end position, and had the physical tools to do incredible things on the football field.

    So the massive numbers he put up should not have been surprising, but they were so good, casual fans following the combine were taken aback by his physical tools.

    Davis registered a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash, jumped a 42-inch vertical and a foot farther than any other tight end in the broad jump, and put up 33 repetitions at 225 pounds.

    That combination of accomplishments is unheard of, especially from a tight end, and Davis cashed in on the performance by being drafted sixth overall in 2006.

5. Courtney Upshaw, 2012

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    Upshaw's is the most recent combine performance on this list.

    He entered last season's combine with all kinds of hype and the expectation that he could perform well off the edge in a 3-4 defense.

    His combine performance didn't indicate that, however.

    He struggled with speed and demonstrating his athletic ability, and couldn't cover at all in coverage drills.

    His strength is definitely relying on fundamentals of good defense, but at the combine he failed to show off the elite athleticism that many though he had.

4.Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 2008

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    DRC entered the offseason as a question mark, having played at Tennessee State and not facing the elite talent that other prospects faced in college.

    He laid all the doubts to rest during his workouts in the offseason, which included a 4.33 40-yard dash, 225-pound bench press 16 times and a 38.5-inch vertical.

    Monster numbers, particularly for a player looking to cement his status as a viable first-round pick.

    His talent payed off with the 16th overall pick in the draft.

3.Brodrick Bunkley, 2006

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    Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was a monster coming out of college.

    And he proved it at the 2006 combine, putting up 44 reps in the bench press of 225 pounds.

    Ridiculous.

    His performance of strength at the combine boosted his draft stock, and he went in the first round 14th overall to the Eagles.

2.Dwight Freeney, 2001

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    Freeney's performance at the combine is one of the greatest in the history of the event.

    He was considered undersized, and there were questions about his ability to perform at the next level against bigger, stronger athletes.

    He quickly dispelled those doubts, putting up 28 reps in the bench press and demonstrating his strength.

    He then confirmed his status as one of the most athletic players at the position with a 4.48 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical.

    His career in the NFL bears out the potential we saw in his combine performance.

1.Chris Johnson, 2008

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    Johnson entered the offseason as a little known running back from East Carolina.

    Then he blew minds at the combine with his blazing speed, posting a ridiculous 4.24 40-yard dash time, and appearing to barely strain himself to post such an incredible time.

    His speed led to plenty of looks from NFL general managers and staff, and it in a first-round pick by the Titans.

    Since then, he's already posted one 2,000-yard rushing season, so I would have to say this worked out well for both Johnson and Tennessee.

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