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Top Five Greatest NFL Combine Performances Of All Time

By Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Calvin Johnson) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Scouting Combine is one of the NFL offseason’s highlights. The best draft prospects converge in Indianapolis, Indiana to participate in physical and mental assessments. Some drills included are the vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone shuttle, and 40-yard dash. Team scouts and executives consider these results when deciding whom to pick in their position of need.

While extensive data helped determine average results for each position, some athletes exceeded expectations. Their performance during the Combine sparked a buzz that may have helped them improve their stock. Their superhuman feats prompted front-office executives to hail them as the solution to their glaring roster problems.

Here are five individuals who have immortalized themselves in NFL Combine history because of the superior numbers they’ve accumulated. However, the mixed outcome of their careers may indicate that the annual evaluation isn’t an exact science for determining a prospect’s readiness for professional football.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Honorable Mentions

While some lists include Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson’s exceptional performances in the 40-yard dash, that’s just one activity that prospects go through. Sanders also deserves additional style points for heading towards a limousine waiting for him after completing the 40 in a hand-timed 4.2 seconds. But this article includes athletes with stunning all-around displays courtesy of solid numbers for more than one evaluation or test.


Saquon Barkley

A 230-pound explosive running back is someone who will attract everyone’s attention. But the former Penn State standout proved he was more than a physical freak. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and had a 41-inch vertical leap. Barkley also made 29 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year had a better vertical than Julio Jones and did more reps than Hall of Famer Joe Thomas. His 1.54 10-yard split is also faster than DeSean Jackson’s time (1.55).

It didn’t take long for him to put the football world on notice after the New York Giants selected him second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He became the league’s Offensive Player of the Year and got a Pro Bowl nod after finishing with 1,307 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Injuries may have derailed his career, but Barkley is back on track after tallying a career-high 1,312 yards to go with 10 touchdowns in 2022.


Mike Mamula

To say that Mamula got obsessed with Combine drills is an understatement. While most prospects practiced football drills during the mid-90s, the defensive end from Boston College focused on doing the drills repeatedly. Repetition worked for him after running the 40 in 4.58 seconds, which is impressive for his 250-pound body. He also had a 38-inch vertical and completed 26 bench presses. The New York native scored 49 out of 50 on his Wonderlic test.

Those results were enough for the Philadelphia Eagles to make him the seventh overall pick in the 1995 draft. Initially, Mamula demonstrated success on the field, good enough to join the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie Team that year. Unfortunately, his career went south, and he was out of the league after the 2000 season. His 31.5 career sacks were disappointing, considering he had 17 during his senior season at Chestnut Hill.


Dwight Freeney

There were questions regarding Freeney’s size leading to the 2002 NFL Draft. Experts deemed him small for a defensive end, making his success questionable. But the Syracuse alumnus silenced all doubters after completing the 40 in 4.48 seconds. He also had a 37-inch vertical and 28 bench press reps. The Indianapolis Colts had seen enough, taking him 11th overall that year. The Connecticut native paid the team that trusted him with an astounding career.

Aside from helping the team win Super Bowl XLI, Freeney became a four-time All-Pro (three times First Team) and a seven-time Pro Bowler. He also led the league in forced fumbles (2002) and sacks (2004). Those accolades made him a part of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. After spending a decade with the Colts, he also played for the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and Detroit Lions.


Vernon Davis

Completing the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds is mind-blowing. However, it’s more impressive coming from a 255-pound tight end like Davis. But he wasn’t done because he made 42 bench press reps. The Maryland alumnus also showed his 42-inch vertical and 10' 8" broad jump. The 2005 Consensus All-American convinced the San Francisco 49ers to select him sixth overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.

He had a productive career, highlighted by his Super Bowl 50 victory with the Denver Broncos. He was a Second Team All-Pro in 2013 and a two-time Pro Bowler. In 2009, Davis also led the league in receiving touchdowns with 13. He finished his career with his hometown team, the then-Washington Redskins, after spending 10 seasons with the 49ers and one with the Broncos.


Calvin Johnson

While “Megatron” already made a name for himself at Georgia Tech, his legend grew thanks to his output at the 2007 NFL Combine. His 40-yard time of 4.35 seconds is astonishing, but it’s more impressive knowing that he participated at the last minute and completed the drill on borrowed shoes. That’s not all because Johnson had a 42.5-inch vertical and 11' 7" broad jump. The 2006 ACC Player of the Year also scored 41 on the Wonderlic.

The Detroit Lions drafted him second overall in 2007; the rest is history. Johnson became a four-time All-Pro (three-time First Team) and a six-time Pro Bowler. He also led the league in receptions (122 in 2012) and receiving touchdowns (12 in 2008) once. He also established an NFL record of 1,964 receiving yards in a single season in 2012. He became a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2021 despite playing just nine NFL seasons.

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