Former Ohio State center Corey Linsley finished second among all NFL Combine participants in the bench press, lifting 225 pounds 36 times in succession.
That performance left him tied with four other players behind North Carolina center Russell Bodine, who managed to crank out 42 reps. Despite the positive showing that reinforced his reputation as one of the strongest members of a Buckeye team that went 24-2 over his final two years, Linsley said he’s capable of doing even more.
“Well, 36 was sort of at the low of what I thought my max was going to be, anywhere from 36 to 40,” he told BuckeyeSports.com. “I did expect that, without a doubt. At the end of the day, I’m happy with what I did.”
The Youngstown, Ohio, native missed out on a chance to participate in the full battery of drills after incurring a hamstring injury on Feb. 17. He attributed that to an illness a few days beforehand that he treated with medicine that left him slightly dehydrated.
Because of that injury, Linsley only competed in the bench press and vertical jump along with his position drills. In the vertical leap, he registered a 28-inch jump, an effort that left him just outside the top 15 performers in his position group.
Even though he sat out the 40-yard dash, shuttle drills and broad jump, Linsley still found plenty to occupy his time over the course of the weekend in Indianapolis.
“Something people don’t necessarily get to see with the combine is the amount of mental work that goes into it,” Linsley said. “You’re up a good 18 hours of the day. Whether it’s answering teams’ questions or answering doctors’ questions, you have to be on your toes for 18 straight hours. There are one-hour breaks in there for lunch and dinner, but it is a mental test as much as it is a physical test.
“When you get into the physical test, some people wonder why the numbers aren’t always where you’d expect them to be. It’s because it does take a toll on your physical strength at the end of the day, which is probably why I got the bottom of my goal for bench press. People don’t understand how much of a mental combine it is.”
The combine always generates a healthy amount of speculation from the fans and media alike over outlier performances at either end of the spectrum. With roughly 10 weeks until the NFL Draft, even miniscule differences between prospects take on a heightened importance as analysts look for ways to fill time and space in the news cycle.
From what Linsley experienced, NFL teams appear much more likely to dismiss a slightly shaky performance if the tape they see portrays a player who can make a positive impact for them.
“I think a lot of people put too much value in that,” Linsley said of the drills. “As long as you’re in the range of what you’re supposed to be in – like if you run a 5.0 40 and you were hoping to run a 4.9 – for an offensive lineman, teams aren’t going to put that much thought into it. They’re not going to look at that 40 as much as the tape, at least from what I hear and what my agent tells me.”
Linsley plans to run in Ohio State’s pro day on March 7 and will complete the full slate of drills assuming he is healthy enough to do so. Not being able to run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis didn’t even prove too big a disappointment. The two-year starter at center for OSU said that with no Senior Bowl invite, the combine was a chance for him to showcase himself to scouts in the position drills (which he was able to complete) and to NFL personnel in meetings.
“I met informally with about 20 teams,” he said. “The feedback that I hear is generally good. I want to keep increasing my stock in their minds and I want to continue to impress people. I think that I have pretty good film. I have some weaknesses in my film that I need to improve. Hopefully I can show during the pro day that I’m improving on those weaknesses and increase my value.”