As an Amazon Associate, Modded gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
A professional football player not only needs to possess the intelligence to learn a playbook and read the rival’s scheme on the fly, but he must also retain the perfect balance of strength and athleticism to out-hit, out-block and out-jump the opponent across from him. As such, the strongest NFL players treat their bodies like temples.
From employing personal chefs and acupuncture therapists to spending the wee hours of the morning in the weight room, some players don’t know when to quit. You may think there’s not enough time in the day for them to fit these extra workouts and therapy sessions into their schedule during the football season, but they do. They always find a way.
Not all players on this list are visually ripped, but the strength remains. They realize their bodies provide for their family and it shows. Not to keep you on your toes any longer, here are some of the strongest NFL players of all time — both active and inactive — who have terrorized opponents more than anyone else.
Position: Defensive tackle
Weight: 285 lbs
Bench Press: 500-pound max, 35 reps of 225 lbs
Aaron Donald is the best defender of his generation and arguably the strongest NFL player today. Although severely undersized for his position — most defensive tackles are around 6’3” and 300+ pounds — Donald has made a living from overpowering much bigger opponents. He constantly gets double-teamed but still manages to disrupt almost every play.
Donald played college football at the University of Pittsburgh and has spent his entire NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams. He won Defensive Player of the Year three times, made the All-Pro team seven times and is just the second defensive tackle to record 100+ sacks in his career.
Position: Defensive end
Weight: 271 lbs
Bench Press: 33 reps of 225 lbs
If an NFL team could create the perfect defensive end in a laboratory, the result would be Myles Garret. The 27-year old has a superhuman frame with 99th-percentile strength and quickness. In addition to his 33-rep performance on the bench press, he ran 40 yards in 4.64 seconds and recorded a 41-inch vertical jump at the 2017 NFL Combine.
Despite being in a stacked draft class, Garrett was the #1 overall pick to the Cleveland Browns and has led the NFL with 80 sacks since coming into the league. He showed off his Olympian physique in the 2019 ESPN Body Issue and has only gotten bigger in the years since. He’s one of the most jacked NFL players ever without question.
Position: Running back
Weight: 232 lbs
Bench Press: 29 reps of 225 lbs
The former Penn State legend, now New York Giant savior, is cut from the same cloth as Myles Garrett. His body can accomplish what most cannot. It’s easy to get lost in the fact he can run a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, jump 41” at 222 pounds and has tree trunks for legs, but that would completely look past his impressive feats of strength in the PSU weight room.
Barkley broke almost every football weightlifting record in Happy Valley. Reports state he benched 390 pounds, squatted 495 pounds for reps, and power cleaned 405 pounds. He has had trouble staying healthy in his NFL career, but he is still the most athletic running back and one of the strongest NFL players today.
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 235 lbs
Bench Press: 27 reps of 225 lbs
DK Metcalf is the most physically imposing receiver in the NFL today. He gained national attention at the University of Mississippi for his god-like physique as a 21-year-old and has built on his reputation for strength. Metcalf is known for bullying defensive backs, often shoving them to the ground on running plays in a display of dominance.
Metcalf also possesses elite speed despite his large frame, running 10.37 seconds in the 100-yard dash in the 2021 Olympic Trials. He has quickly become a beloved player with the Seattle Seahawks, leading the team in receiving yards and terrorizing smaller defenders on a weekly basis. If he maintains his physique, he’ll be one of the strongest NFL players until he retires.
Position: Offensive tackle
Weight: 325 lbs
Bench Press: 705-pound max, 43 reps of 225 lbs
Former Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Larry Allen is arguably the strongest NFL player of all time. His bench press numbers don’t make any sense. Allen was an average size for his position, but he was noticeably stronger and faster than other linemen. He was so strong that he could’ve been a successful powerlifter or strongman if he didn’t play football.
Allen is the only player in history to earn the title of Strongest Man in the NFL thanks to his feats of strength in the weight room and on the field. He also had the skills to back up his power, as he made the All-Pro team six times, made the 1990s All-Decade team and got elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Position: Defensive end
Weight: 288 lbs
Bench Press: 34 reps of 225 lbs
When looking at JJ Watt it’s sometimes hard to believe he actually plays football and is not a star of the World’s Strongest Man Competition on ESPN Classic. When Watt’s not winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards or helping raise $41.6M for Houston’s Hurricane Relief Fund, he’s in the weight room. While his athleticism doesn’t match up to that of Barkley or Garrett, he certainly outshines them in pure strength.
Watt put up big numbers at the NFL Combine with 34 reps on the bench press. While that number is impressive, it’s important to know Watt never skips a leg day. JJ’s warm-up squat is a measly 600 pounds before squatting 700 pounds. That’s what many would call big boy weight, folks.
Position: Outside linebacker
Weight: 240 lbs
Bench Press: 525-pound max
James Harrison retired from the NFL in 2019, but even in his final years, he instilled fear in the hearts of opponents. He wasn’t blessed with strength or speed, but he built it through sheer hard work. He owes a lot of his success to his dedication in the weight room — his intense workouts speak for themselves.
The former undrafted linebacker out of Kent State turned two-time Super Bowl Champion and NFL Defensive Player of the Year played the same amount of snaps for the Steelers at age 28 as he did at age 38. His standards for in-season weight training resemble the lengths other players strive for to keep their bodies in peak shape all season long.
Strong Is an Understatement
Think you can stand toe to toe with the strongest NFL players ever? From breaking records on the field to performing ridiculous workouts, each of these players has pushed their bodies to the max and left everything on the field, granting them a spot on this list. Give one of their workouts a try and see if you have what it takes to keep up with professional athletes.
Originally posted 12/5/2018 — Last updated 10/19/2023
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.