In the NFL, nearly every player sports a physically intimidating frame. But the same can't be said about players in the NCAA. Therefore, when the world was introduced to Baylor Bears defensive end Shawn Oakman in the most terrifying way possible, most couldn't believe their eyes. The College junior is 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds. But casual football fans didn’t know much about him until he was captured on screen at AT&T Stadium in Dallas during this past season’s Cotton Bowl. That image immediately surfaced on twitter and made everyone remember why football is considered one of the most frightening sports. Based on this astonishing frame alone, anyone can expect Oakman to find his way into the NFL in the coming years, and without a doubt on this list.
Finding 15 players to fill this list is easy, but determining which ones deserve to be on it ahead of others is the difficult part. Based on this list, the San Francisco 49ers covet players with shear physical ability. New head coach Jim Tomsula loves gritty and relentless players, and one of his most recent free agent signings—on offense—made the cut. Another notable player, Patrick Willis, who recently retired from the NFL due to injury, would have surely made this list, which would have given the Niners a combined four players on this list. Seven offensive players and seven defensive players made the list, and the special teams NFLer that made the cut may surprise you.
With the league shifting toward an aerial one, some of the shredded players on this list have been unable to sustain their high level of play through the movement; these players are more suited for a bruising style of football. Thus, having a flawless physical frame won’t inevitably equate into better production on the field or even more wins, especially in today’s NFL. But either way, who wouldn’t want one of these NFL bodies?
Here are the top 15 jacked players in the NFL today.
15 Michael Johnson – Cincinnati Bengals
Michael Johnson has the length and athleticism general managers covet in a pass rusher, and as his career has progressed, he’s proven that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the weight room as well. During the 2012 offseason, Johnson put on noticeable muscle as he was heading into a potential contract year as a franchise player. However, as this list will reveal, muscle mass doesn’t necessarily translate into production on the gridiron. Despite the production that earned him a monster free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Bucs, Johnson was cut after just one season. Amusingly enough, Tampa Bay will pay Johnson $7 million in 2015 to play for another team, while the Bengals will pay him $6 million.
14 Steve Weatherford – New York Giants
Wait, a punter made the list? Well that’s the last role you’d expect Steve Weatherford to play in society with the kind of body he has. Players around the league present towering physical frames, but at the punter position that just isn’t a requirement. And yet Weatherford has worked relentlessly to be able to say he went against the grain. As one of the smaller players on his high school football team, Weatherford began reading fitness books as a freshman in hopes of discovering a new regime to help him bulk up. He now has just five per cent body fat and is statistically considered the fittest player in the NFL.
13 Jared Veldheer – Arizona Cardinals
What happened during the 2013 offseason is the main reason why Jared Veldheer made this list. As was proof in an unfathomable post-workout photo, the left tackle’s weight went up from 300-lbs to 325-lbs and it seemed as though most of that and maybe more went to his arms and chest. The former Oakland Raider swapped conferences the following season and inked a lucrative free agent deal with the NFC’s Arizona Cardinals. He allowed just one sack and was named team MVP this past season.
12 Jon Beason – New York Giants
Jon Beason was a two-time All-Pro with the Carolina Panthers and his intimidating physique coupled with his dominant play on the field, made him one of the league’s best middle linebackers. However, Beason suffered a devastating Achilles injury and was eventually traded. His unique workout has helped him bounce back from the injury and continue to perform in the NFC, now as a member of the New York Giants linebacking corps. Beason alternates between upper and lower body workouts followed by similar exercises in a pool to remove stress from the joints. Moreover, to modify his workouts Beason also does spinning.
11 Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers
Aside from his blazing speed on the gridiron, one thing that is most evident when watching Kaepernick play are his biceps. Yes, the one he kisses after scoring a touchdown, and both for that matter. His fascinating core workout has helped him chisel his midsection to go along with his arms. Since entering the league, Kaepernick has continued to get bigger. In fact, his former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the man who took a chance on him in the NFL draft feared the quarterback would get so built that it might affect the rest of his physical traits.
10 J.J. Watt – Houston Texans
In the most J.J. Watt thing ever, the unstoppable defensive lineman purchased a cabin in the woods this offseason where he lived and trained. "It's really minimalistic," Watt told the Houston Chronicle. "The only thing I have to focus on is training and that's the way I like it. There's no frills, there's nothing to distract you up here." Watt made sure to bring his defensive player of the year trophy as motivation. If this list ranked the league’s most intimidating players, there’s little doubt Watt would be in the top five, if not number one.
9 James Ihedigbo – Detroit Lions
The former undrafted free agent won a Super Bowl in 2013 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. The casual fan won’t remember Ihedigbo’s name amongst the talented Ravens roster, but one thing the veteran safety has over his former teammates and those in Detroit is bragging rights over one of the most ripped bodies in football. Ihedigbo has six per cent body fat and spends up to 10 hours in the weight room each week.
8 Brian Orakpo – Tennessee Titans
After spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins, Brian Orakpo signed with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent this offseason. Orakpo does a lot of lower body training to get under tackles when rushing the quarterback. Before getting drafted in 2009, Orakpo benched 225 pounds 31 times. He also ran a 4.63, 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds. He is one of the most physically intimidating players in the league and has a relentless motor when rushing the quarterback. He just needs to stay healthy to be able to suit up on Sundays.
7 Clay Matthews Jr. – Green Bay Packers
If you don’t see him flying around the field in hot pursuit of an NFL quarterback, chances are you’ll catch Matthews at the Packers facility or any other gym working on his physique. Along with his MMAthletics regimen, Matthews consistently performs two rigorous push-pull circuit workouts twice a week. Once a walk-on at USC, Matthews was forced to outwork his peers in order to earn playing time and eventually become a recognizable player, like he has in the NFL. And if you weren’t already aware of Matthews’ chiselled frame, he’ll let you know about it with one of his signature sack celebrations—a simple yet ferocious flex.
6 Steven Jackson – Free Agent
Steven Jackson reinvented the running back term workhorse after taking over for Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk. And throughout his career, he’s been a reliable, bruising back who’s made shedding tackles look easy despite doing it all for losing teams. Jackson was the Rams' longest tenured player before departing in free agency to sign with a playoff team, the Atlanta Falcons. However, the Falcons went just 4-12 in Jackson’s first season with the club. Now a free agent, Jackson remains the Rams all-time leading rusher, and has begun a campaign to save the seemingly deteriorating running back position.
5 Reggie Bush – San Francisco 49ers
The former second overall pick has bounced around the NFL. He recently signed with San Francisco following the departure of the staple of the Niners backfield, Frank Gore. Since his prime time days at USC, Bush has had a chiseled body and continues to maintain it with his intense workouts that attempt to replicate on the field instances in the gym. Even at age 30, he seems to possess most of that game-breaking speed he displayed to the world back in college.
4 Robert Turbin – Seattle Seahawks
Sticking in the NFC West, the home of the league’s most physical running back, “Beast Mode,” comes the guy sitting second on the Seahawks depth chart at the position, Robert Turbin. While Marshawn Lynch has earned the nickname for his ability on the field—most notably his incredible run against the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 playoffs—Turbin’s massive arms may give him that same title in the weight room.
3 Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson has made headlines for the wrong reasons over the past year, and as a result, the future of his football career is in jeopardy. Not too long ago, Peterson’s name was solely associated with triumphs on the gridiron, some calling him the greatest running back of this generation and maybe the best ever. He ran with authority, and it would take no less than an eight-man box on most Sundays to stop him from breaking one to the house. His running style is the culmination of his intense workouts, which have helped sculpt his powerful body.
2 Vernon Davis - San Francisco 49ers
Before going sixth overall in the 2006 NFL draft, Vernon Davis obliterated school lifting records at the University of Maryland. He benched 480 pounds by his junior year and became one of only six players in school history to exceed 800 on Maryland’s strength index scale—a measure of pound for pound strength. His physical frame coupled with his blazing speed make him look like a man running amongst boys on the football field.
1 LaRon Landry – Free Agent
The former fifth overall pick from LSU was considered a future pro-bowl caliber player and one of the safest prospects in the 2007 draft. Despite making the Pro Bowl as a replacement in 2012, since entering the league, Landry has been recognized for his hard-hitting and his famous biceps—easily the biggest in the league. However, tests results revealed what many believed about the safety’s arms; Landry was suspended without pay for the first 10 games of the 2015 season after violating the performance-enhancing drug policy for the second time.