For NFL prospects, pure strength is an invaluable asset, especially for the offensive and defensive linemen who spend most of their time fighting for a push in the trenches.
At the NFL combine, no drill measures that attribute more directly than the bench press. It’s an imperfect indicator, but it puts every player under the same conditions: Prospects are asked to put up 225 pounds as many times as they can. Free-agent defensive tackle Stephen Paea—who spent his first four seasons with the Chicago Bears—holds the combine record with an absurd 49 reps.
It’s a longshot that Paea will have his mark broken, but each prospect still has an opportunity to increase his draft stock with a good showing in the bench press. Follow along for updates and highlights from the workouts so far:
Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami (FL)
Former Miami Hurricanes offensive tackle Ereck Flowers is seen as a top 10 offensive line prospect in this year’s draft. A handful of scouts list him outside of the top five among tackles, but he may have upped his draft stock with an impressive outing on the bench press.
Flowers is the current leader in the clubhouse with 37 reps. His pass protection is a work in progress, but no scout can doubt his brute strength as we move closer to the draft.
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff is viewed as one of the top offensive line prospects in this year’s draft (if not the outright No. 1 guy). He was a unanimous All-American for the Iowa Hawkeyes, but his 23 bench reps at the combine ranked him tied for 24th among all 37 offensive linemen that participated.
It’s tough to envision that mark hurting Scherff’s draft stock, though, given that he can hang-clean a ridiculous 443 pounds. He’s still an incredibly strong human being, which is why the bench numbers shouldn’t be seen as the end-all. A tweaked hamstring ended Scherff's combine workout early.
La'el Collins, OL, LSU
Yet another of the top offensive line prospects for 2015, La’el Collins only put up 21 reps in the bench press. Only five other O-line prospects couldn’t manage 21 or more.
Collins shouldn’t fret over that performance, though, because his athleticism raised eyebrows compared to other prospects. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and former NFL head coach/NFL Network analyst Brian Billick were praising the youngster’s combine performance on Twitter.
La'el Collins is by far the most athletic of the Group 1 linemen. Killing folks. — Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 20, 2015
LSU OT La'el Collins winning the day so far in early drills. Impressive feet...looked really good in exaggerated pass set drill. — Brian Billick (@CoachBillick) February 20, 2015
Collins appears to have cemented his standing as a first-round draft choice despite lackluster bench press numbers.
Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
If you're actively looking for Andrus Peat’s bench press reps, don’t waste your time. The Stanford standout opted not to lift.
It will be up to scouts to decide if that should be seen as a negative, but Peat is a first-round talent, so this would be a pretty insignificant reason for his draft stock to slip.
Leonard Williams, DL, USC
Hulking defensive lineman Leonard Williams is pretty much unanimously viewed as 2015’s best prospect on the defensive side of the ball. Throughout the 2014 season, his junior year at USC, Williams racked up 80 total tackles (9 1/2 for loss) along with seven sacks. He added three pass deflections, three forced fumbles and an interception for good measure. Williams is a legitimate game-changer, so his draft stock should remain in the stratosphere with potential franchise quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. At the combine, however, Williams did not participate in the bench press due to shoulder problems.
“I’ve had labrum tears in both of my shoulders, and I have not been able to do as much upper-body [work] as I have wanted to,” the youngster said, per Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm. Williams participated in other drills, but it’s a shame that fans weren’t treated to seeing his feats of strength.
Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Randy Gregory, another top defensive prospect, did participate in the bench press. He put up 24 reps, which slots him well out of the top 30 among all prospects who have participated. Some pundits, including NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, have voiced concerns with Gregory’s size heading into the draft.
“At 6'6", 240 pounds, I would hope that he can put another 15 or 20 pounds on in the next couple of years. You’d love to see him at 260 or so, so he can be a little more physical,” Mayock said.
Nevertheless, his versatility as a guy who can line up at defensive end or outside linebacker still provides teams with value regardless of his playing weight.
Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
Clemson standout Vic Beasley has already been tabbed by many as a first-round talent, but his impressive showing during combine workouts may ultimately raise his stock even higher. Beasley led all defensive lineman in the bench press with 35 reps; that mark slots him third overall behind offensive linemen Ereck Flowers and Mitch Morse (you can see the top 30 bench performers at the bottom of the article). He also posted the fastest 40-yard dash time among his fellow linebackers. That vicious combination of strength and speed is exactly what players need at the NFL level.
Deon Simon, DL, Northwestern State
Although Deon Simon played his college ball at little-known Northwestern State University in Louisiana, a team that lost to powerhouse Baylor by an eye-popping score of 70-6 in September, his 6'4", 332-pound frame allowed him to be a powerful run stuffer throughout the campaign. Like Beasley, Simon posted 35 reps on the bench press, which was tops among defensive players. He’ll likely be a mid-round pick when the draft rolls around, but he undoubtedly has value as a massive nose tackle who can aid teams at stopping the run.
Below you can see the top 30 strongest prospects based on their bench press reps. You can click on a player’s name to see their page with additional combine numbers and NFL draft rankings from around the web.
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