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Here are the strongest players in NFL Scouting Combine history

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Every year, the NFL Scouting Combine gives the nation's top football prospects a chance to showcase their talent.

With the 2022 NFL Draft right around the corner, athletes are looking to impress general managers, scouts and coaches through an array of physical, medical and professional tests.

Originating in 1982, the combine has gauged athletic strength as one of the components of physical testing. While there’s only one drill that solely tests for strength, there are others that pertain to strength capacity.

Before the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off, let’s take a look at the strongest players in combine history:

Who will be participating in the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine?

A total of 324 prospective NFL players of all positions were invited to attend the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. The combine will take place in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts.

When is the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine?

The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine starts Thursday and ends on Sunday. The sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will start at 7 p.m. ET, while the final session starts at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Who are the strongest players in NFL Scouting Combine history? 

Here is a list of the best bench press results in NFL Scouting Combine history:

 

Justin Ernest, Eastern Kentucky, DT: In 1999, Ernest completed 51 bench press reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, which remains the most of all time. However, since Ernest went undrafted and only played one season of professional football, the NFL recognizes Stephen Paea as the record holder of the bench press. 

Stephen Paea, Oregon State, DT: In 2011, Paea recorded 49 bench press reps at the combine. He went on to be drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft and also played for Washington, Cleveland and Dallas.

Mike Kudla, Ohio State, DL: In 2006, Kudla muscled 45 bench press reps at the combine. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers but was released in 2006 after sustaining a career-ending hamstring injury. The former Ohio State star passed away unexpectedly in 2018 at the age of 34. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Leif Larsen, UTEP, DL: In 2000, Larsen completed 45 bench press reps at the NFL Combine. He was drafted that same year by the Buffalo Bills where he played for two seasons. He retired from football to pursue a career in boxing, starting with his first fight in 2003.

Mitch Petrus, Arkansas, G: In 2010, Petrus amassed 45 bench press reps. He was drafted by the New York Giants that same year, before joining New England (2012) and Tennessee (2012). In 2019, Petrus died of heatstroke at the age of 32.

 

Netane Muti, Fresno State, G: In 2020, Muti completed 44 bench press reps at the combine. He was then drafted by the Denver Broncos and still plays as a guard for the team. 

Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State, NT: In 2006, Bunkley muscled 44 bench press reps at the NFL Combine. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He went on to play for the Denver Broncos (2011) and New Orleans Saints (2012-2014).

Jeff Owens, Georgia, DT: In 2010, Owens nailed 44 bench press reps at the combine. At the 2010 NFL Draft, he was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round. Now, Owens is coaching the defensive line at a high school in Cumming, Georgia.

What type of tests will be held for strength at the NFL Combine?

Bench press: The bench press weight at the NFL Scouting Combine is 225 lbs. and scouts judge the drill by the number of reps a player can do. The drill usually favors offensive and defensive linemen.

While the vertical jump and broad jump both measure lower-body strength, they also test for explosion and power.

Vertical jump: Testing explosion and power, athletes jump off both feet straight as high as possible. This drill is specifically important for receivers and defensive backs.

Broad jump: Like the vertical jump, broad jump tests for lower body strength, explosion and power. The drill is about how you can jump, not how high. This drill is most important for running backs, linemen and linebackers.