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NFL Scouting Combine records: 40-yard dash, bench press and more

Whether it was John Ross' blazing-quick 40-yard dash or Byron Jones' superhuman broad jump, all-world athleticism is always on display at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the week that the top prospects to declare for the 2023 draft shed the pads and put on their running spikes, we take a look at some of the most memorable, record-setting performances that the NFL combine has ever seen.

WhatNFL Scouting Combine
WhereLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
WhenMonday, February 27th to Monday, March 6th
How to watchNFL Network 

40-yard dash - John Ross, 4.22 seconds

In the NFL, speed has always mattered, but now, as offenses pass more and run less, it's everything. So the 40-yard dash has almost become the blue riband event of the combine.

While it has always been worth watching when the wide receiver and defensive back prospects put on their track spikes, there is probably just as much interest from a scouting perspective when the linemen get their chance to run against the clock.

Last year, 340-pound Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis turned heads with a 4.78 dash that confirmed he would be a first-round pick and almost certainly the first in his position to come off the board - which he was when the Philadelphia Eagles took him 13th overall.

The record for the event is still held by John Ross, who set a blistering time of 4.22 in 2017. He parlayed that performance into a four-year, $17.1million contract by being drafted ninth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.

That run broke the previous record, held by running back Chris Johnson since 2008, by 0.02 seconds and has not really been threatened since.

But 100m world record-holder Usain Bolt did put the college prospects in their place when he ran 4.22 unofficially over the same distance at a pre-NFL Championship game fan experience event in 2018, wearing sweatpants and sneakers.

Bench press - Justin Ernest, 51 repetitions

Justin Ernest bench-pressed the bar an impressive 51 times back in the 1999 combine, but the big defensive tackle went undrafted and stayed in the NFL for only a season with the New Orleans Saints.

Auckland-born defensive tackle Stephen Paea came the closest anyone has to beating that mark when he raised the 225-pound weight 49 times in 2011.

The Oregon State star had torn the lateral meniscus in his right knee just over a month before the combine when he was hurt in practice ahead of the Senior Bowl.

It meant that he only participated in the bench press and 40-yard dash, but Chicago were willing to make him their second-round pick that year.

He went on to become the first Bears player to record a safety during his debut since at least 1970 when he sacked Donovan McNabb in the end zone.

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Vertical jump - Donald Washington & Chris Conley, 45 inches

The record for the vertical jump is shared by cornerback Donald Washington and wideout Chris Conley, who leaped to the great height of 45.0 inches six years apart in 2009 and 2015 respectively.

Washington had won the state high long jump championship in Indiana as a high-school junior and senior and his athleticism was appreciated by the Kansas City scouts who recommended him strongly enough for the Chiefs to take him in the fourth round.

Conley followed a similar path to Arrowhead Stadium following his performance as a third-round selection.

Broad jump - Byron Jones, 12 feet 3 inches

Byron Jones was ranked the 25th-best cornerback prospect in the draft by NFL.com in the lead-up to the 2015 combine.

In Indianapolis, he set a new combine and world record for the standing broad jump by leaping 12 feet, three inches to surpass the previous record mark of 11 feet, seven inches set by Jamie Collins in 2013.

That mark is still six inches greater than the next-best and gave his draft prospects a huge boost as the Dallas Cowboys took him with the 27th overall selection.

Another Byron, Georgia's 2023 draft prospect Smith, put in a notable performance this week when he recorded a jump of 11 feet - the third-best ever by a defensive tackle.

Three-cone drill - Jordan Thomas, 6.28 seconds

Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas showcased his burst and change of direction to the watching talent evaluators with a spectacular three-cone drill in 2018 that beat the previous mark of undrafted Oregon wide receiver Jeff Maehl by 0.14 seconds.

He went undrafted in 2018 and didn't catch on in Philadelphia after taking up an invite to try out for the Eagles at their rookie minicamp that spring.

20-yard shuttle - Jason Allen & Brandin Cooks, 3.81 seconds

In 2016, Tennessee defensive back Allen completed the drill in 3.81 seconds, a record that has not been surpassed to this day.

Although no one has beaten this time, Houston Texans wide receiver Cooks did equal it during his time at Oregon State in 2014 and several players have since come within a few hundredths of a second.

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