All-Time Leaders for Every NFL Scouting Combine Drill

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

All-Time Leaders for Every NFL Scouting Combine Drill

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    Jamie Collins
    Jamie CollinsMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    Since its inception in 1982, the NFL Scouting Combine has acted as a centralized hub for the evaluation process of prospects from around the nation.

    Otherwise known as the "Underwear Olympics," the combine places prospects through a rigorous course of testing both on the field and off, with the former slowly transcending into a national spectacle to the public over the years.   

    The seven physical drills are an annual highlight of a rather dull NFL offseason for fans, but they serve a bigger purpose as teams etch together a board in preparation for the draft. Many millions of dollars have been won and lost by prospects throughout the years based on their performances.

    The following slideshow will take a look at the top five performances to ever grace the combine in each drill. 

     

    Note: The NFL's official database only dates back to 2006.

40-Yard Dash

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The 40-yard dash is far and away the most popular drill at each combine, although the results are one minute fraction of what teams consider when looking at a prospect.

    Speed alone does not translate to success at the pro level, but it certainly helps when combined with other traits.

    The following prospects have found varying levels of success after jaw-dropping numbers in the sprint.

     

    1. Chris Johnson, RB, 2008 (4.24 seconds)

    The most successful of the top dashers on the list, Chris Johnson's speed combined with his elite vision and overall athleticism have made him one of the NFL's elite backs for a number of years. 

    Johnson has eclipsed more than 1,000 yards rushing in all six years as a pro and has scored 50 touchdowns on the ground, with his longest scoring run coming on a 94-yard score in 2012.

     

    2. Marquise Goodwin, WR, 2013 (4.27 seconds)

    While small in stature, Marquise Goodwin's elite speed was fully on display at the 2013 combine, which he put to somewhat good use as a rookie with the Buffalo Bills.

    Goodwin caught 17 passes in 12 games as a rookie and was effective on returns after taking second place in the record books. He's also an Olympian, which further highlights his elite athleticism.

     

    3. Jacoby Ford, WR, 2010 (4.28 seconds)

    Jacoby Ford is another elite athlete with a smaller frame who has found a niche role with the Oakland Raiders. As a rookie, he recorded nearly 1,300 yards on kick returns and scored three touchdowns, but has seen limited use since.

     

    4. DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, 2011 (4.28 seconds)

    DeMarcus Van Dyke was a third-round selection after his impressive showing at the 2011 combine, but he lasted just one year in Oakland before going on to make minimal contributions with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011.

     

    5. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, 2009 (4.30 seconds—tied with Yamon Figurs and Tye Hill)

    Darrius Heyward-Bey is yet another speedy selection the Oakland Raiders made and regretted rather quickly. His best year came in 2011 thanks to his 975 receiving yards, but fundamental issues such as concentration and drops have marred what could have been a stellar career.

Bench Press

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    Stephen Paea
    Stephen PaeaBradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

    The ultimate measure of strength, the bench press mostly sees linemen dominate the 225-pound bar.

    Like the 40-yard dash, a top number far from guarantees NFL success, but it at least gives teams a good idea of functional strength in place before a prospect gets into a room with pro trainers.

     

    1. Stephen Paea, DT, 2011 (49 reps)

    As a rotational piece in Chicago, Stephen Paea has found a quality pro career with the Bears and has six sacks to his name in three years.

     

    2. Mitch Petrus, OL, 2010 (45 reps)

    Mitch Petrus fared well in this event, but he was nothing more than a career backup. He is still currently out of work after stints with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans. 

     

    3. Jeff Owens, DT, 2010 (44 reps) 

    A serious injury ended Jeff Owens' NFL carer early after he joined the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round of the 2010 draft.

     

    4. Dontari Poe, DT, 2012 (44 reps)

    For Dontari Poe, his dominant showing at the combine foreshadowed his rise in the NFL. Poe is now an elite nose tackle with the Kansas City Chiefs and has 4.5 sacks in two seasons.

     

    5. Tank Tyler, DL, 2007 (42 reps)

    Tank Tyler spent three years in the NFL as a role player with Carolina and Kansas City, recording 82 combined tackles in 43 games.

     

Vertical Jump

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    Donald Washington
    Donald WashingtonMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    This exercise is as simple as it sounds. The results are especially important for wideouts and defensive backs, both of which have to effectively go up and get the ball at its highest point. 

     

    1. Donald Washington, DB, 2009 (45.0 inches)

    After an explosive performance here, Donald Washington was taken in the fourth round by Kansas City. He made just five starts in three seasons and failed to intercept a pass. 

     

    2. A.J. Jefferson, CB, 2010 (44.0 inches) 

    Despite going undrafted in 2010 after the rest of his game did not live up to his impressive vertical jump, A.J. Jefferson landed with the Arizona Cardinals and played there for two seasons. He then moved on to play two years for the Minnesota Vikings.

     

    3. Dorin Dickerson, TE, 2010 (43.5 inches)

    In three years with three different teams, Dorin Dickerson has recorded all of 11 receptions. His stature at 6'1" made for an impressive vertical, but has not translated well on the field thus far.

     

    4. Kashif Moore, WR, 2012 (43.5 inches)

    Kashif Moore joined the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent and was subsequently released, which in turn led to an unproductive stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has yet to make an NFL reception.

     

    5. Eric Berry, SS, 2010 (43.0—tied with Darius Butler and Christine Michael)

    Eric Berry has quickly morphed into one of the NFL's premier defenders, so it should come as no surprise he put together a strong showing at his combine. Berry has eight interceptions in four years (he played just one game in 2011) and puts his vertical to use when defending deep.

Broad Jump

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    Balance and explosion are the name of the game for pro hopefuls in the broad jump. The stars of this event are usually pass-rushers, who need such traits coming out of their stationary stances at the snap of the ball. 

     

    1. Jamie Collins, OLB, 2013 (11'7")

    Jamie Collins shattered the record books in 2013, almost making the standard measurement tools used at the combine look obsolete. Collins did not see much playing time with the New England Patriots after being taken in the second round—until the playoffs, where he recorded six tackles, a sack and an interception.

    As head coach Bill Belichick put it to reporters after the game, Collins is an elite athlete who fits the ever-changing landscape of the NFL, via ESPN's Mike Reiss:

    As you saw today, he's split out on the tight end, covering them on fade patterns and he's blitzing up the middle and he's making tackles in line. I think he's pretty comfortable wherever he is -- whether he's out in space and covering a guy 20 yards downfield or one-on-one coverage with no help, or whether he's in line taking on blockers or blitzing or covering tight ends from in close.

    Collins more than made himself known at the combine. 

     

    2. Jerome Simpson, WR, 2008 (11'4")

    Jerome Simpson is widely known as the guy who flipped into the end zone. But really, Simpson's stunning athleticism helped him distance himself from his small college of Coastal Carolina. To date, he has spent six quality years in the NFL as a role player but hasn't quite been able to put everything together for a breakout year.

     

    3. Justin Hunter, WR, 2013 (11'4")

    2013 was quite the year for near-broken records in this regard.

    After joining the elite in this drill, Hunter played in 14 games as a rookie and caught 18 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns despite a tough quarterback situation in Tennessee.

     

    4. Julio Jones, WR, 2011 (11'3")

    As one of the most physical receivers in the game, any record books with Julio Jones' name on it are not a shock. Jones uses tremendous size and explosiveness to beat defenders at the line and deep down the field, which would explain why he averaged more than 15 yards per reception in his first two seasons.

     

    5. Donald Washington, CB, 2009 (11'3")

    For those who could not tell, the aforementioned Donald Washington was quite the jumper at the 2009 combine. The trait helped him in coverage, but could not mask other weaknesses that saw him leave the pro game after three seasons.

     

3-Cone Drill

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    Buster Skrine
    Buster SkrineDarron Cummings/Associated Press

    Ankle flexibility, explosiveness and overall fluidity of movement are all critical parts of the three-cone drill, which is another key measurement for receivers, defensive backs and even outside linebackers.

     

    1. Jeff Maehl, WR, 2011 (6.42 seconds)

    Jeff Maehl joined the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He sat on the practice squad and was eventually cut. He's currently a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

     

    2. Buster Skrine, CB, 2011 (6.44 seconds)

    Buster Skrine has rapidly improved during his short time in the league after joining the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round back in 2011.

    He recorded a career-best 85 total tackles in 2012 and followed that up with 65 more in 2013.

     

    3. Scott Long, WR, 2010 (6.45 seconds)

    Scott Long is similar to most on this list. He went undrafted in 2010 and was last seen hanging around in the bowels of the San Francisco 49ers' roster in 2011.

     

    4. Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, 2011 (6.46 seconds)

    Dane Sanzenbacher has carved himself out a nice niche at the pro level as a returner and possession receiver.

    Oh, and Jon Gruden loves him.

     

    5. Terrence Toliver, WR, 2011 (6.48 seconds)

    The definition of a combine warrior, LSU product Terrence Toliver has bounced around to three different NFL teams and even had a stint in the UFL after his showing in the 2011 combine.

20-Yard Shuttle

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    Jason Allen
    Jason AllenDARRON CUMMINGS/Associated Press

    The 20-yard shuttle, otherwise known as the 5-10-5, sees prospects cover 20 yards by starting in the middle and displaying agility and a strong change of direction in short areas.

     

    1. Jason Allen, CB, 2006 (3.81 seconds)

    Jason Allen had a strong enough collegiate career and showing in events such as this to be taken in the first round of the 2006 draft by the Miami Dolphins. He spent four-and-a-half seasons there before bouncing to Houston.

     

    2. B.W. Webb, CB, 2013 (3.84 seconds)

    While only a fourth-round pick, B.W. Webb appeared in 15 games with the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie and played well enough in the slot. His obvious athleticism that landed him a spot on this list made a big difference as a highlight of his skill set.

     

    3. Desmond Trufant, CB, 2013 (3.85 seconds)

    Apparently 2013 was the year of the ultra-athletic corners who went on to make an immediate impact at the pro level. Desmond Trufant was the No. 22 overall pick in 2013, played in all 16 games and recorded 70 total tackles and two picks.

     

    4. Austin Pettis, WR, 2011 (3.88 seconds)

    Through three years with the St. Louis Rams, Austin Pettis has caught 95 balls for 916 yards and eight touchdowns, with his best year to date being 2013.

     

    5. Casey Hayward, CB, 2012 (3.90 seconds)

    Casey Hayward blew up the scene  before Webb and Trufant thanks to his 53 total tackles and rookie-high six interceptions in 2012 before an injury limited him to three games as a sophomore.

60-Yard Shuttle

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    T.J. Moe
    T.J. MoeDave Martin/Associated Press

    An extended version of the short shuttle, the 60-yard shuttle sees prospects travel a greater distance to measure change of direction speed and lateral quickness. 

     

    1. Jamell Fleming, CB, 2012 (10.75 seconds)

    Jamell Fleming has had a tumultuous two years in the NFL since blowing away observers in this drill. He was a third-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2012, but was cut in 2013 before going on to appear in eight games with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

     

    2. Buster Skrine, CB 2011 (10.75 seconds)

    The aforementioned Buster Skrine used multiple drills to up his stock, with this one in particular being impressive as he displayed a strong range often sought in defensive backs.

     

    3. Cortez Allen, CB, 2011 (10.87 seconds)

    In three seasons, Cortez Allen has slowly worked his way to being a quality starter in the pros. He has appeared in 14 or more games for the Pittsburgh Steelers each year and has four total interceptions.

     

    4. T.J. Moe, WR, 2013 (10.87 seconds)

    T.J. Moe was a shifty slot receiver with the Missouri Tigers before getting a chance to catch passes from Tom Brady in New England. Unfortunately, a torn Achilles put an early end to his rookie year.

     

    5. Arman Shields, WR, 2008 (10.87 seconds)

    Arman Shields caught no NFL passes after being taken in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders.

     

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