These Huge NFL Combine Prospects Are Frighteningly Fast

These Huge NFL Combine Prospects Are Frighteningly Fast

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preview for 3 NFL Combine Drills to Boost the 40-Yard Dash | Men’s Health Muscle

THE BIG BOYS are making history at the NFL Combine this week.

University of Pittsburgh’s 6-foot-1, 281 pound defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, clocked a 4.67 in the 40-yard dash yesterday— the fastest 40-yard dash by a defensive tackle since 2006.

Kancey wasn’t the only big man to make waves yesterday, though. Sitting at 6-foot-2, 282 pounds, Northwestern defensive end Adetomiwa Adebawore punched a 4.49— the fastest 40 time electronically recorded for a player weighing over 280 pounds.

Nolan Smith showed out for the linebackers. The 6-foot-2, 238 pound Georgia Bulldog marked a 4.39, even faster than the New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley (4.40) ran at the Combine in 2018.

Iowa Hawkeye defensive end Lukas Van Ness up to his Hercules nickname yesterday—but might want to consider taking on “The Flash” as a moniker, too. The 6-foot-5, 272 pound defensive end ran a 4.58 in the 40.

Big guys have been getting faster—but this isn’t just a phenomenon for 2023. Last year, Georgia defensive end Travon Walker clocked a 4.51 sitting just south of 280 pounds. He was picked first overall in the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 40-yard dash is a rare sprint event that permits larger athletes to perform well for a variety of reasons. “It’s basically an event that only taxes your power energy system,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “Even slightly longer races, like the 100-meter dash, require more from your other energy systems.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall. It’s a race that anybody can run if you really perfect and work on your technique,” says Travelle Gaines, NFL trainer and founder of Athletic Gaines who has worked with hyper-quick big men like Myles Garrett (4.64) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (4.58) to prep for the Combine. He says the ideal 40-yard dash is run in only 19 steps, and performance is determined by stride length and frequency. Balancing the two helps make each stride explosive. “It’s all about covering ground.”

And this new generation of extra large athletes are doing just that—much to the chagrin of NFL quarterbacks.

Headshot of Cori Ritchey

Cori Ritchey

Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.


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