If the NFL drafted players in order of pure athleticism, Justin Zimmer might be the first overall pick.
A 6-foot-2, 302-pound defensive tackle from Ferris State University, Zimmer wasn't invited to the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Instead, the under-the-radar prospect attended both the Houston Regional Combine and the University of Michigan Pro Day. In both events, he posted absolutely mind-boggling numbers for a 300+-pound human being.
Zimmer's amazing results included a 4.85 40-Yard Dash, a 33.5-inch Vertical Jump, a 7.01 3-Cone Drill and a 9-foot-9 Broad Jump. To top it all off, he also recorded a beastly 44 reps on the Bench Press. It's difficult to quantify exactly how impressive these numbers are, but a tool called Relative Athletic Score (RAS) might be a good start.
Created by football writer Kent Lee Platte, RAS attempts to illustrate how an NFL prospect's measurables compare historically with those in his position group. On a 1-to-10 scale, a grade of 5 indicates a prospect with "average" athleticism and a grade of 10 indicates the most athletic prospect at the position. Zimmer's RAS score ranks ahead of every defensive tackle prospect from the past 10 years, including current NFL stars Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald and Gerald McCoy:
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 3, 2016
It might be tempting to categorize Zimmer as a workout warrior, but his on-field numbers were also incredibly impressive. Last season, he led his team in tackles (81), sacks (13), tackles for loss (26) and forced fumbles (four). True, he posted those stats against D-II competition, but that type of production from a defensive tackle is extraordinary at any level. Zimmer reportedly trained for his pre-draft workouts at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas, a facility with a strong history of turning out athletes with solid Combine showings.
In addition to his great numbers in the standard Combine events, Zimmer also has a Squat max of 615 pounds and a Hang Clean max of 405 pounds. Though he's not yet a household name, Zimmer could prove to be a steal in the middle to late rounds of the 2016 Draft. Check out his senior year highlights here.
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