Success stories with the combine are less popular than stories of failure, because most of us believe the combine is largely meaningless and an excuse for scouts to drool over the measurements of their fellow man. Those success stories do exist, however.
Let's look at three of the biggest combine beneficiaries of all time and their stories.
1) Bo Jackson
Bo is legendary for any number of reasons, but his unofficial, borderline mythical pre-electronic timer 4.12 40 yard dash is the one most closely tied to his combine. His truly insane athleticism contributed to the Buccaneers selecting him 6th overall, though he never played for them because they screwed him out of his baseball eligibility by lying to him about a visit with the team. It's complicated, sure, but the Buccaneers screwed up a lot of things.
Jackson absolutely blew away the combine across the board, but that 40 yard dash ensured the notoriously speed-loving Raiders would snap him up in 1987, watching him average 5.4 yards per carry and become the greatest player in Tecmo Bowl history.
He went on to have successful (if brief) careers in both baseball and football, and is one of the most universally beloved athletes in modern history. It was a short run, sure, but a magical one.
2) Chris Johnson
Coming into the draft, Chris Johnson was projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round. His combine changed everything.
Johnson ran the fastest 40 yard dash on record, ranked highly in the vertical jump and broad jump and generally showed eye-popping athleticism. The Titans snapped him up with the 24th pick in the first round, and he rewarded them with a successful rookie season and a truly great year in 2009, when he racked up 2,0006 yards and 14 touchdowns.
While Johnson's production has dropped off a cliff in recent years, he'll always have one of the great seasons in NFL history, and a damn fine career all together. Considering the pop his 40 time gave him, he has to be on this list.
3) Deion Sanders
This name should be quite familiar to everyone here. Deion parlayed a strong college career and a terrific combine into a first round selection. He went 5th overall in 1989 to the Atlanta Falcons.
Sanders' 4.2 40 was one of the fastest on record at the time, and legend has it he showed up at the combine, ran it and left the building. For a guy whose calling card was his speed and athleticism, that was more than enough to cement his status as a top 10 pick.
Sanders went on to have a Hall of Fame career that featured a few great years in Atlanta, including a seven interception season, and he did all that while being one of the most colorful and outsized personalities in the game. That 40 time didn't hurt him one bit.
Who is your favorite combine success story?