How have recent Combine stars measured up in the NFL?
Chris Johnson has been the rare player to turn a dominant 40-yard dash performance into NFL success. (Getty Images)
The NFL's annual poke-and-prod of potential draft picks is underway at the Scouting Combine, but it's worth remembering, as this year's workout results roll in, that not every player who puts on a show at the Combine can translate those results to a successful career.
In fact, the results are pretty hit and miss in terms of players translating strong Combines to the field. A look back at the top performers in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap and bench press since 2005 highlights that fact:
1. Chris Johnson, RB, 2008 (4.24): Granted, this test hinted at a pretty spectacular NFL career ahead. Johnson wound up being picked 24th by Tennessee and has rewarded them with four straight seasons over 1,000 yards rushing, including a 2,006-yard outburst in 2009.
2. Demarcus Van Dyke, CB, 2011 (4.25): A typical Raiders draft pick, Van Dyke translated his world-class speed into a third-round selection. He made four starts for Oakland in his rookie season and tallied 13 tackles.
3. Stanford Routt, CB, 2005 (4.27): What was I just saying about the Raiders and their love for fast players? Routt set the pace in 2005, and Oakland subsequently took him No. 38 overall. He had 10 interceptions and 50 pass break-ups in seven seasons with the Raiders -- they cut him this offseason, and Routt signed with Kansas City.
4. Jacoby Ford, WR, 2010 (4.28): Another Raiders draft pick, Ford came off the board in Round 4. Oakland's still waiting for him to bust out -- Ford has 44 catches over his first two seasons, though he does have four kick returns for touchdowns.
5. Jerome Mathis, WR, 2005 (4.28): The best example yet of a Combine star who failed to thrive in the NFL. Mathis, out of Hampton, was a fourth-round pick of Houston. He caught just six passes over three seasons and most recently played for the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League.
1. Donald Washington, CB, 2009 (45 inches): After being drafted in Round 4 by Kansas City, Washington has struggled to work his way into the lineup. He has five starts, 52 tackles and no interceptions over his first three NFL seasons.
2. A.J. Jefferson, CB, 2010 (44): Jefferson has run the gamut from Combine star to draft flop to NFL success. In addition to topping the charts with a 44-inch vertical in 2010, he also put up the fastest 20-yard shuttle time (4.0 seconds). But, thanks in part to a disappointing 4.51 40, Jefferson went undrafted. He signed with the Cardinals and wound up making 66 tackles and seven starts in 2011.
3. Dorin Dickerson, TE, 2010 (43.5): A seventh-round pick of the Texans, Dickerson already has cycled through three NFL teams -- Houston, Pittsburgh and New England -- while not yet catching a regular-season pass.
4. Eric Berry, S, 2010 (43): Apparently, 2010 was a groundbreaking year for vertical leaps, as this is the third straight player from that Combine on the list. Berry was the No. 5 overall pick by Kansas City and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of 2011.
5. Darius Butler, CB, 2009 (43): Butler came off the board in Round 2, when the Patriots scooped him up. After two so-so years in New England, he was waived and latched on with Carolina. There, he started six games in 2011.
1. Stephen Paea, DT, 2011 (49 reps): Paea set a new all-time Combine record by pumping up 225 pounds 49 times last year. He parlayed that performance into a second-round selection by the Bears. Paea had two sacks in his rookie season, of which he saw action in 11 games.
2. Mike Kudla, DE, 2006 (45): Despite his impressive performance on the bench at the '06 Combine, the ex-Ohio State star went undrafted. Kudla latched on briefly with the Steelers in the preseason as a free agent but was cut before the regular season began.
3. Mitch Petrus, G, 2010 (45): The Giants took Petrus in the fifth round, and he actually worked his way into the starting lineup for three games this past season. He has struggled in his brief appearances -- Petrus allowed one sack, eight QB pressures and took two penalties in 2011.
4. Brodrick Bunkley, DT, 2006 (44): A pending free agent, Bunkley spent 2006-10 with the Eagles, then was traded (after an initial attempt to send him to Cleveland) to the Broncos. Bunkley has 187 career tackles and six sacks from his defensive tackle spot.5. Jeff Owens, DT, 2010 (44): Owens was one of the last players selected in 2010, No. 243 overall by Philadelphia. He eventually made it onto the active roster for Week 16 of that season, but suffered a knee injury in his only game. The Eagles waived him prior to the 2011 season.