By Ryan Mayer
It’s here, NFL fans. Combine week. When the top 300+ players show up in Indianapolis to perform drills in front of NFL scouts that largely don’t have much to do with actual football skills. Regardless, we all talk about the combine because we’re deprived of football for the next six months. With that in mind, to get you ready, these are the best ever combine performances by each drill.
40-yard dash: Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina (2008) – Johnson wowed scouts with his 40 time officially clocked at 4.24 seconds. Others have come close, but none have officially beaten CJ2K’s time. Johnson has rushed for over 9,442 yards 54 touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He was enjoying a very good season as a reclamation project in Arizona before suffering a fractured tibia against the 49ers on November 29th. Entering his age 31 season, Johnson will be a free agent.
Bench Press: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (2011) – The defensive tackle from Oregon State put up 225 pounds a record 49 times back in 2011 – which led to him being drafted in the 2nd round by the Bears (53rd overall). He spent four years with the Bears before signing a 4 year $21 million deal with the Washington Redskins in free agency. He wasn’t very effective in his first year there starting just one game and collecting 2.5 sacks.
Vertical jump: Chris Conley, WR, Georgia (2015) – Conley tied the record previously held by Donald Washington with a 45-inch leap at last year’s combine. The performance, along with a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash and a 11’5″ broad jump led to the Bulldogs receiver being drafted in the 3rd round (76th overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs. His rookie season didn’t provide much excitement as he caught just 17 balls for 199 yards and 1 TD.
Broad Jump: Byron Jones, DB, UConn (2015) – Jones replaced athletic freak Jamie Collins as the record holder here with a ludicrous 12’3″ leap. That jump broke the world record of 12’2″ previously set by Norway’s Arne Tvervaag in 1968. Granted, the event is rarely contested anymore, but still extremely impressive. Jones was another player whose combine athletic feats rocketed them up the draft boards as he recorded a 44.5-inch vertical, a 6.78 3-cone drill, a 3.94-second 20 yard shuttle and a 10.98-second 60 yard shuttle. Jones was taken in the 1st round by the Cowboys (27th overall) and immediately made an impact on the Dallas secondary, starting 11 games and getting 8 pass deflections.
3-cone drill: Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon (2011) – The speedy slot receiver from Oregon finished the drill in 6.42 seconds. That performance, along with his other measurables, wasn’t enough to get him drafted and he signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent before the 2011 season. He didn’t play last season after being let go by the Eagles.
20-yard shuttle: Jason Allen, DB, Tennessee (2006) – Allen blazed to a time of 3.81 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and was drafted by the Dolphins in the 1st round at number 16 overall. He played seven seasons in the league after wrapping his 2012 season for a total of 98 games (starting 23), 213 tackles and 15 INT’s. He’s been out of the league since.
60-yard shuttle run: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State (2014) – Cooks broke the combine record in this particular drill at 10.72 seconds and the New Orleans Saints moved up to number 20 in the 1st round of the draft to take Cooks. After a solid opening season, Cooks took a big leap last year with 84 receptions for 1,138 yards and 9 TD’s. He’s expected to continue to be Drew Brees’ number one target in the Big Easy.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.