Every year a handful of prospects soar up NFL teams' draft boards thanks to warrior-like workout performances at the NFL Scouting Combine, a place to showcase one's raw athleticism. Some prospects' efforts rise above the others due to jaw-dropping feats in drills like the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, bench press and more.
Here's a look at the records for each combine drill as well as a player or two who could challenge those marks among this year's 319 invitees. Records are compiled through NFL.com's data that begins in 2006.
|Year||Player||College||40-Yard Dash Time|
WR John Ross
CB Kalon Barnes
CB Tariq Woolen
RB Dri Archer
Former University of Washington wide receiver John Ross used his blazing speed to dethrone CJ2K as the combine's 40-yard dash record-holder. This performance rocketed his stock so high he went inside the top 10, ninth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft, one pick before the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to select 2022 NFL MVP and Super Bowl LVII MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
2023 contenders: Texas A&M RB Devon Achane, TCU WR Derius Davis, Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt, Maryland WR Jacob Copeland, TCU CB Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
Seeing Texas A&M topple then-ranked #1 Alabama in 2021 was a spectacle to watch for a number of reasons, but one of the bigger ones was taking in Aggies RB Devon Achane leaving Nick Saban's army of four-star and five-star recruits in the dust for a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown.
He also showcased the ability to turn on the afterburners in a hurry after having his ankle wrapped up on his 95-yard kickoff return touchdown in 2022 against Appalachian State.
TCU wide receiver Derius Davis had six career return touchdowns as a Horned Frog, tying NFC Pro Bowl return man KaVontae Turpin's career school record. His 65-yard catch-and-run score against Kansas State, 82-yard punt return touchdown against Texas Tech, and 80-yard jet sweep touchdown in 2022 are plenty of evidence that he could rewrite the record books in Indianapolis.
Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, the 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top wide receiver, not only cooked Alabama (six catches, 207 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns), but he dominated all year long with 15 receiving scores, including a nation-leading five that were 50 yards or longer.
Maryland wide receiver Jacob Copeland, according to East-West Shrine Bowl director of football operations and player personnel Eric Galko, could threaten the 40-yard dash record as some who could "get into the 4.2s." He also pointed out that former Baylor wide receiver and current New England Patriot Tyquan Thornton, a Shrine Bowl participant a year ago, had a 4.28. Both Thornton and Copeland trained at XPE, per Galko.
TCU cornerback Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football's top defensive back, and despite being an undersized corner, he stuck with opposing team's top pass-catchers with incredible speed. In the clip below, THT sticks like glue to Xavier Worthy on the deep post step-for-step before displaying the quick twitch ability to speed back up in a different direction to intercept the football. Having him run in a straight line will be a sight to see.
Top quarterback times
|Year||Player||College||40-Yard Dash Time|
Robert Griffin III
|2011||Tyrod Taylor||Virginia Tech||4.52|
2023 contender: Louisville QB Malik Cunningham
Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham had 12 rushing touchdowns in 2022, tied for the third most of anyone at his position, including three of 50 or more yards. On this 72-yarder against Duke, Cunningham crossed midfield after a few jukes and broken tackles and turned on the jets, burning the entire Blue Devils defense in a straight line down the sideline. Plays like those make it easy to envision a sub-4.35 40 time for the speedster.
WR Chris Conley
CB Donald Washington
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB Byron Jones
2023 contenders: TCU WR Quentin Johnston and North Carolina WR Josh Downs
TCU wide receiverwas the engine of the national runner-up's passing attack, utilizing his 6-foot-4 frame to outjump and outmuscle opposing defensive backs all season long. His slender frame, plus his explosive verticality he utilized all season to haul in Max Duggan's deep shots, should have this high school basketball player in position to make a big leap in Indianapolis.
North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs was listed at 5-foot-10 and a quarter in terms of his height in 2022, but the Tar Heels would regularly run plays in the end zone and near the goal line for their sub-six-footer. They opted to throw a goal-line fade on fourth-and-goal to him against Notre Dame, a pass he easily hauled in after outjumping his defender. That should translate to the combine's vertical jump drill.
Bench press (225 pounds)
DT Stephen Paea
OL Mitch Petrus
DL Mike Kudla
G Netane Muti
DT Dontari Poe
|2010||DT Jeff Owens||Georgia||44|
2023 Contender: Michigan defensive lineman Mazi Smith
The Michigan Wolverines, the 2022 Big Ten champions, had the fifth-ranked scoring defense in all of college football, allowing 13.4 points per game. A significant contributor to that dominance was the middle of their defensive line where the 6-foot-3, 337-pound Mazi Smith manned the middle, eating up running backs for breakfast. Probably with plenty of milk atrequest. Someone with this type of size and strength is required to challenge Stephen Paea's record, and Smith could be up to the task.
CB Byron Jones
WR Emmanuel Hall
S Juan Thornhill
S Obi Melifonwu
|2019||WR Miles Boykin||Notre Dame||11'8"|
*Unofficial world record
2023 contender: Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas
While Princeton wide receiver Andrei Iosivas led the Ivy League in catches (66), receiving yards (943) and receiving touchdowns (seven), he was one of the NCAA's best track and field athletes. He ran the fastest 60 meters, 6.71 seconds, in the NCAA heptathlon all time in the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships, according to Princeton. A background like that is required to challenge an unofficial world record.
WR Jeff Maehl
LB David Long
WR Scott Long
|2011||WR Dane Sanzenbacher||Ohio State||6.46|
2023 contenders: Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas, USC WR Jordan Addison
Iosivas' case as an all-around explosive athlete is listed above in the broad-jump section. The three-cone drill is all about agility, and USC wide receiver Jordan Addison is arguably this draft's most fluid route-runner, making him a candidate to showcase that ability in this drill.
WR Brandin Cooks
CB Jason Allen
CB Bobby McCain
CB B.W. Webb
William & Mary
|2016||S Justin Simmons||Boston College||3.85|
|2013||CB Desmond Trufant||Washington||3.85|
2023 Contenders: TCU CB Tre'Vius Hodges Tomlinson, North Carolina WR Josh Downs
Both Hodges-Tomlinson and Downs thrived in college football despite being "undersized" for their positions because of their burst and agility. Players with those attributes have the potential to challenge the record for the 20-yard shuttle, a drill all about being able to flip your hips and move sideline to sideline.