National Football League
J.J. Watt — the greatest leaper ever?
National Football League

J.J. Watt — the greatest leaper ever?

Published Jul. 17, 2013 1:00 a.m. ET

J.J. Watt is listed at 6-foot-5 and nearly 300 pounds. He is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year after recording 20.5 sacks and tipping an NFL-record 16 passes. And, if this video is to be believed, he's got some serious hops.

In fact, according to recorded statistics, he may be the highest leaper in the history of American sports. Or he could just be a hell of a con artist.

First, watch the video for yourself.


The video claims that the box upon which Watt jumped is 59.5 inches tall. While there is nothing in the video to confirm the height of the box, it sure looks like it could be that tall when he stands next to it. But here's the problem: lists his official vertical at the 2011 Draft Combine as 37 inches. So 1) the NFL needs a new ruler, 2) Watt has done some serious leg work in the last two years, or 3) when it comes to this video, Watt is more Harry Houdini than Dominique Wilkins.

Now, some more evidence in Watt's favor: This video from 2011 shows Watt jumping onto a box it claims to be 55 inches off the ground (and it includes a tape measure — though we never see the tape measure on the ground to prove the height is legit). So it also could be a ruse, but like the other video it is nonetheless impressive to see.

And now for some perspective. It was widely reported and believed that His Airness topped out at a 48-inch vertical. Famed slam dunk champion Spud Webb, all of 5-feet-7, had a vertical reported to be in the 42-to-46-inch range.

Earlier this year, D.J. Stephens out of Memphis broke the record for the highest vertical ever recorded at the NBA Draft Combine — a measly 46 inches.

In terms of the NFL, the stats are even more in Watt's favor.

Gerald Sensabaugh has the highest-recorded vertical at the Combine — also 46 inches.

So has Watt suddenly become the greatest leaper in sports history, or is the budding marketing genius simply enhancing his ever-expanding brand?


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