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The biggest freaks of the 2018 NFL Combine

The NFL combine is full of future pros, but only a few are true physical freaks.

The NFL’s premier winter event, the NFL Combine, is complete. Top draft prospects were poked, prodded and tested for almost every aspect the game of football could demand. Medical tests were run, written exams were given, and, above all, the athletes were put through their paces in a series of drills.

And among the best college football has to offer, a few elite talents emerged in Indianapolis. 

Actually, let’s call them freaks. These are the physical monsters of the NFL combine per position. Those players whose combination of height and weight make you ask, “Wait, did he really just do that?”

Quarterback – Josh Allen, Wyoming

Josh Allen is as close to the NFL prototype as you can get at quarterback. He’s 6-foot-5, 237 pounds with massive 10 1/8th-inch hands. Those measurables are a win for Allen alone. Then you add in his testing numbers. Among quarterbacks, the Wyoming product had the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.75 seconds), the highest vertical leap (33.5 inches), the longest broad jump (119 inches), the second-fastest 3-cone drill time (6.9 seconds) and the eighth-fastest 20-yard shuttle time among quarterbacks.

Oh yeah, Allen showcased an arm that can do things like this:

There might be questions about Allen’s accuracy and college competition. But his tool set as an athlete is unquestionable leaving Indianapolis.

(Photo: Getty)

Running Back – Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Those who have watched college football the last three seasons knew Barkley would test well. We just didn’t know he’d test this well. The All-American running back checked in at 6-foot, 233 pounds and still managed to run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. For perspective, the only running back to test faster was N.C. States Nyheim Hines (4.38), who weighed in at 198 pounds. Barkley also led all running backs with 29 reps on the bench press and a 41-inch vertical leap.

Add those physical traits to Barkley’s natural vision as a runner, intelligence, blocking ability and character, and NFL teams are willing to do some weird things in order to draft him.

Wide Receiver – D.J. Moore, Maryland

Several wide receivers could qualify for this category, but Moore gets the edge because of his speed. Moore, at 6-foot, 210 pounds, ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash (5th among receivers), had a 39.5-inch vertical (2nd among receivers), a 132-inch broad jump (1st among receivers), a 4.07 20-yard shuttle (3rd among receivers) and a 11.18 60-yard shuttle (2nd among receivers). Other wideouts tested really well, including SMU’s Courtland Sutton, Texas Tech’s Dylan Cantrell and LSU’s D.J. Chark, but it’s Moore who put together the best overall performance. It could lift him into Round 1 consideration.

Tight End – Mike Gesicki, Penn State

Barkley wasn’t the only Penn State athlete to test well. Gesicki, at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, dominated tight end testing. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.54 seconds), had the second-most reps on the bench press (22), posted the longest broad jump (129 inches), the fastest 3-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle time. Oh yeah, his 41.5-inch vertical leap was tops among all players at the combine.

For perspective, only two players at least year's NBA Combine had a higher vertical leap than that.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

Offensive Line – Kolton Miller, UCLA

Miller’s size is the first thing that jumps out at you at 6-foot-9, 309 pounds with 10 ¾-inch hands. Then you see the guy move. Hailed as an “average athlete" during the pre-combine process, Miller shattered that idea during testing. He ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among linemen (4.95 seconds), finished with the fourth-highest vertical leap (31.5 inches), ran the third-fastest 3-cone drill (7.34 seconds) and the third-fastest 20-yard shuttle. He also finished with a respectable 24 reps on the bench press. Above all, Miller set a combine record for offensive linemen with his 121-inch broad jump.

The former Bruin finished with an “elite” 87.2 PFF College grade in 2017, and his stock will only improve coming out of the combine.

EDGE – Josh Sweat, Florida State

A new positional distinction in 2018, just consider “EDGE” a pass rusher. Sweat, who piled up 12.5 tackles for loss as a junior last season, qualifies as that. He's also a certified physical freak at 6-foot-4, 251 pounds. Sweat ran a 4.53 40-yard dash. He also led all EDGE players with a 39.5-inch vertical leap and finished second with a 124-inch broad jump. Sweat also posted a 4.28-second time in the 20-yard shuttle, which was seventh among EDGE players. It should be noted Sweat did not participate in the bench press and 3-cone shuttle.

Defensive Line – Taven Bryan, Florida

A freak athlete even by the standards of the Florida program, Bryan’s been compared to J.J. Watt in the past. At 6-foot-4, 291 pounds, Bryan showed why at the NFL Combine. The defensive tackle ran a 4.98-second 40, did 30 reps on the bench press (7th among defensive linemen), posted a 35-inch vertical (4th among defensive linemen) and a 119-inch broad jump (4th among defensive linemen). Bryan also posted the second-fastest time in the 3-cone drill (7.12) and the eighth-fastest 20-yard shuttle time (4.48).

Remember, Bryan is earning all of those times at nearly 300 pounds. It’s an unbelievable showing considering how reliant the 3-cone drill and shuttle are on the ability to violently change direction and quickness.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

Linebacker – Shaquem Griffin, UCF

This has to be Griffin’s spot, right? UCF’s star linebacker ran the fastest 40-yard dash time for a linebacker (4.38 seconds) ever, while also putting up 20 reps on the bench press. He also did all of that with the use of just one hand. At this point most know Griffin’s story, but that should not take away from what Griffin did during the combine. It’s an incredible performance by the 6-foot-1, 227-pound linebacker, who likely helped his draft stock more than anyone this past week.

Other linebackers who had freakish efforts included: Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State), Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech), Matthew Thomas (Florida State) and Malik Jefferson (Texas).

Defensive Backs – Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Widely projected as a first rounder after a season in which he graded out as a 91.1 per PFF College, Ward didn’t have to test great to be drafted high. Then he went out and ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash, which tied for the fastest time among 2018 combine participants. Add in the fact Ward did 16 reps on the bench (8th among CBs), and few made more money than the Ohio State corner Monday morning.