There have already been some amazing performances at the combine, from Marquise Goodwin's 4.27 40-yard dash to Knile Davis' 31 reps in the bench press. The best is yet to come, though, as some of the strongest, fastest players will dominate the remaining drills.
The defensive linemen traditionally blow up the bench press, while the defensive backs are usually blazing fast. And every year, there is some pass-rusher who blazes the 40, racks up an impressive bench press and jumps out of the building.
The following players have enticing athletic promise. We'll have to see if they make good on that at the combine.
Jesse Williams, DT Alabama
Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith reported a month ago that Jesse Williams was aiming for the combine record in the bench press. If he succeeds in recording more than the 51 reps that Justin Ernest put up in 1999, Williams will instantly become the talk of the combine.
Either way, Williams will definitely put up an impressive total in the bench. I would say that 40 reps would be a minimum expectation for the monstrous defensive tackle.
As a more stationary nose tackle, I'll be just as interested to see how Williams performs in the athletic tests. If he manages to reel off good times in the 40-yard dash or the shuttle drills, Williams will cement his status as a first-round pick.
Even if he fails to run well, I always enjoy watching 320-pound players try to run. Does anyone else remember Andre Smith's pro day?
Margus Hunt, DE SMU
Margus Hunt is threatening to be this year's Vernon Gholston, blowing the scouting establishment away with one of the all-time-great combine performances. The Estonian defensive end is also an excellent performer at the discus throw, showing off his elite athleticism.
Hunt's weight-room numbers borderline on obscene. He can clean 384 pounds, snatch 345 and rep 225 between 35 and 45 times in the bench according to CBSSports.com. Paired with speed that will likely produce a sub-4.7 40, Hunt should impress.
I'll be especially interested to see how he performs in the jumps. At 6'8", Hunt has the frame to explode out of the building, and paired with excellent Olympic lifts, he clearly is an explosive athlete. It wouldn't be surprising to see him excel in the vertical.
Hunt will grab scouts' attention with a world-class performance.
Robert Alford, CB Southeast Louisiana
One of the small-school standouts at the Senior Bowl, Robert Alford impressed with his speed and fluidity. Those skills should translate well to the combine, where he is expected to run a blistering 40-yard dash and perform well in the shuttle runs and three-cone drill as well.
The wide receivers and running backs didn't disappoint in terms of speed, and I expect the defensive backs should be fast too.
Alford will be one to watch. He matched up with every receiver at the Senior Bowl in terms of speed, and he should do it again in Indianapolis.
Shamarko Thomas, S Syracuse
Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com (via CBSSports.com) will be watching Shamarko Thomas on Tuesday, as he explains:
Shamarko Thomas is one of the top physical specimens in this class, with estimated 4.3 speed. He is a regular in the weight room and, while he has a smaller frame, he has maxed it out with muscle and bulk.
Both in the bench press and the 40, Thomas should be among the top performers. He is a speedster who excelled in college.
Despite his diminutive 5'9" frame, he should be a dynamo on special teams early in the NFL. His upside should also help him be an eventual starter at safety.
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