How did Brock Lesnar do at the NFL combine?In brief he did extraordinarily well at the NFL combine.
Different sources claim different combine numbers, but I think this set of pre-draft measurables are accurate:
40-yard dash time: 4.7 seconds
Vertical jump: 35 in
Standing long jump: 10 ft 0 in
Bench press: 225 lb with 30 reps
At 6'2" (1.88 m) and 285 lb (129 kg) playing defensive tackle those combine numbers indicate elite athleticism.
Let's make a few comparisons to get an idea of the rarity of his performance.
The average time in the 40-yard dash was computed for each position for the period of 2008-2012. As the average times were cranked out, it turned out that the average NFL defensive tackle, which was Lesnar's position, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.13 seconds. Now, if 4.7 is Lesnar's official time, there is a massive difference in quickness (ability to accelerate) between the average NFL defensive tackle and Brock Lesnar. Even if his time was closer to 4.8 or 4.85, it's still a considerable margin to the average and one that would show itself on the field. In fact, as far as quickness goes, Lesnar bears more resemblance to an outside linebacker (avg. 4.74) than he does to a lineman. This is a staggering fact since the average linebacker in the NFL weighs about 243 lb (110 kg) and thus vastly outweighed by Lesnar.
What I am about to do now might seem rash but I promise you that impression will quickly dissipate. I will compare Brock Lesnar to arguably the best defensive player in years and one of the most jaw-dropping specimens in the NFL, namely J. J. Watt.
Here are the subset of combine numbers of defensive end J. J. Watt (6'5", 290 lb) for which we have Lesnar's numbers:
40-yard dash time: 4.84 seconds
Vertical jump: 37 in
Standing long jump: 10 ft 0 in
Bench press: 225 lb with 34 reps
We can conclude that the combine numbers of Brock Lesnar and J. J. Watt, one of the most astonishing specimens in the NFL today, are virtually indistinguishable.
This is all the more impressive because defensive ends are generally expected to be more athletic than defensive tackles.
Why didn't Lesnar make the NFL with such powerful measurables? Well, he was plagued by injuries and had a major accident before training camp with the Vikings. While he was able to recover in time for and complete training camp, it's reasonable to assume that he was far from fully healed. That's makes it difficult to compete against a bunch of guys with little to no injury after a long vacation. (Well, a long period of time without contact football - football players work out almost all year round in sharp contrast to most basketball players.) That's not to mention the biggest advantage they had over Lesnar: experience. Lesnar had no college football experience and I'm not even sure he played in high school - if he did, it was probably not at a high level.
Lesnar had a fantastic amateur wrestling pedigree (i.e. NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion in his senior year of college) and possessed exceptional athleticism, as he demonstrated at the combine. He tried to make the NFL on sheer physical talent, with no high-level football experience, and he ultimately couldn't do it. After all, J. J. Watt and other roughly comparable players have amazing technical skill at their position in addition to their athleticism.
As amazing as Brock Lesnar was, it just wasn't enough.