Fastest 40 yard dash: Fastest players in NFL Combine history, fastest NFL players

Fastest 40 yard dash ever
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Who ran the fastest 40 yard dash ever? Coaches, scouts and general managers flock to the NFL Scouting Combine every year to find the fastest NFL player. While having the fastest 40 yard dash time isn’t a guarantee for success, many of the game’s most iconic players lit up stopwatches with their times.

Let’s look into the record books, data and more to find the fastest 40 times ever in the NFL.

Related: NFL Combine records

What is the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL Combine history?

Xavier Worthy holds the NFL record for the fastest 40 yard dash time ever at 4.21 seconds, set at the 2024 NFL Combine.. Here’s a quick overview of the fastest official times ever.

History of fastest 40 times

Xavier Worthy, wide receiver

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman
Credit: Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Xavier Worthy 40 time: 4.21 seconds

Texas Longhorns wide receiver set the NFL Combine record for the fastest 40 yard dash ever with a time of 4.21 seconds in 2024. Worthy, one of the fastest players in college football, posted a 4.25 time in his first attempt at the 40-yard dash. A few minutes later, he posted the record-setting time of 4.21 seconds.

Related: Social media reacts to Xavier Worthy breaking 40-yard dash record

Fabian Washington, cornerback

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Take a look at the players with the fastest 40 yard dash times and you’ll notice a trend. There are a lot of former Raiders’ draftees. Al Davis loved drafting players who lit up the stopwatch, posting the fastest 40 time, and Fabian Washington is part of that history. The No. 23 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Washington is one of the fastest NFL cornerbacks ever. But Washington’s blowup performance at the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine didn’t pay off, playing just 81 games in six seasons.

  • Fabian Washington 40 time: 4.29

Tyreek Hill, wide receiver

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tyreek Hill claims the title fastest player in the NFL right now, there’s no doubt about it. Frankly, he might be the best wide receiver in 2022. Hill didn’t run at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine due to a domestic violence arrest, which also pushed him down to the 165th pick. But at the West Alabama Pro Day, multiple scouts clocked HIll at a 4.29 40-yard dash. No defensive back has a chance against his speed in the NFL today, making him a matchup nightmare. How fast is Tyreek Hill? Just as everyone that hurts their neck looking back as he blows by them.

Related: Best tight ends of all time

Tyquan Thornton, wide receiver

NFL: New England Patriots OTA
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Minutes after Ohio State’s Chris Olave ran a 4.26 40-yard dash in front of a shocked audience at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, this little-known former Baylor star legit broke the record.

In fact, Thornton’s first run came in at 4.21 seconds, breaking the NFL Scouting Combine record previously held by the aforementioned Josh Ross. Ultimately, the officially time came in a little slower, but he still enters the league as one of the fastest NFL players in 2022.

  • Tyquan Thornton 40 yard dash time: 4.28 seconds.

Related: Best NFL dynasties ever

Stanford Routt, cornerback

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Did we mention Al Davis loved picking players based on their 40 time? Washington and Stanford Routt were part of the Raiders’ 2005 draft class. Neither defensive back ever made the Pro Bowl in their careers. But Routt did play in the NFL for nine seasons, starting 110 games for the Raiders and delivering a pick-six in 2010.

  • Stanford Routt 40 time: 4.27

Related: Repeat Super Bowl winners

Deion Sanders, Hall of Fame cornerback

NCAA Football: Celebration Bowl-Jackson State at South Carolina State
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There are legends behind many of the fastest 40 yard dash marks. Unsurprisingly, the sensationalism around Deion Sanders matches his legendary reputation. Sanders set the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash in 1989, breaking the mark in ‘Primetime’ fashion. he walked into the stadium and ran a 4.27 in front of teams without stretching and then sprinted out of the building and left. The rest is history.

Marquise Goodwin, wide receiver

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Marquise Goodwin has delivered some memorable moments during his football career, including a tribute to his lost newborn child after a touchdown. But the Chicago Bears wide receiver must also be recognized as one of the fastest football players. A two-sport star at Texas, playing football along with track and field, Godwin was a four-time All-American in track with program records in the long jump. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he clocked in a 4.27 40-yard dash and has made plenty of big plays.

  • Marquise Goodwin 40 time: 4.27

Related: NFL mock draft

Jerome Mathis, wide receiver

NFL: Preseason-Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL fans won’t recognize Jerome Mathis. A fourth-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, his NFL career only lasted a few seasons. But he’s certainly not one of the draft busts with one of the fastest 40 yard dash times ever. A track and field sensation in Virginia, Mathis became a return specialist in college. He clocked a 4.26 40 time in 2005, one of the best marks in NFL history. While he only played three NFL seasons (2005-’07), he earned first-team All-Pro honors as a returner after is rookie season. Injuries and arrests derailed his career shortly after.

  • Jerome Mathis 40 time: 4.26

Dri Archer, running back

NFL: Preseason-Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

College football fans remember Dri Archer. He became a fan favorite at Kent State, especially in his final two seasons. Archer earned an NFL Combine invite after totaling 2,844 scrimmage yards and 719 kickoff return yards in his final two collegiate seasons. He caught everybody’s attention in Indianapolis, clocking a 4.26 40-yard dash. But after being selected 97th overall by the Steelers in the 2014 NFL Draft, in front of Devonta Freeman, Archer played in just 20 games and never played another snap after the 2015 season.

  • Dri Archer 40 time: 4.26

Related: NFL defense rankings 2024

Chris Johnson, running back

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine, many wondered if we’d ever see a prospect set a new record for the fastest 40 yard dash ever. Then Chris Johnson took the field. The East Carolina running back as a projected third-round pick, Johnson stepped to the line and took off. After 4.24 seconds, everyone was stunned. Johnson went on to become a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was recognized as the fastest NFL player for years and delivered a 2,000-yard season that no one forgets.

  • Chris Johnson 40 time: 4.24

John Ross, wide receiver

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the fastest player in the NFL? If based on the 40-yard dash, the title belongs to John Ross. Coming off an incredible 2016 season at Washington (1,150 receiving yards, 19 total touchdowns) everyone tuned in for the 2017 NFL Combine thinking we might see history. That’s exactly what happened. While Chris Johnson believes the NFL rigged it, wanting him to lose the crown for fastest 40 yard dash time, the clocks and stopwatches say Ross is atop the official charts.

Related: Biggest NFL Draft busts

Unfortunately for the Cincinnati Bengals, it didn’t result in NFL success. After drafting the 5-foot-11 receiver with the No. 9 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, picked ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, T.J. Watt and two rounds before Cooper Kupp, Ross lasted just four seasons in Cincinnati and has totaled just 957 receiving yards in 37 games.

  • John Ross 40 time: 4.22

Bo Jackson, running back

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Auburn
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We arrive at Bo Jackson, the mythical god of sports. ESPN’s 30 for 30 captures his story perfectly, touching on so many of the wild tales that captured his athletic prowess. But the Bo Jackson 40 time is its own tale. Some suggested he broke the 4.0 barrier, posting a 3.9 time at the NFL Combine. But that’s a tall tale.

Raiders’ beat writer Jerry Knaak tracked down the truth, Jackson never attended the 1986 NFL Scouting Combine. Thus shattering the stories. But Jackson did run at Auburn’s Pro Day, with dozens of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers in attendance. They say he clocked in at a 4.16, Jackson suggests it was a 4.13. The NFL won’t recognize it officially as the fastest 40 yard dash ever, but Bo knows. Jackson might just be the fastest NFL player ever.

  • Bo Jackson 40 yard time: 4.16*

Fastest 40 yard dash by year

  • 2024: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas – 4.21 seconds
  • 2023: DJ Turner, CB, Michigan – 4.26 seconds
  • 2022: Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor – 4.23 seconds
  • 2021: Anthony Schwart, WR, Auburn – 4.27 seconds
  • 2020: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama – 4.27 seconds
  • 2019: Zedrick Woods, S, Ole Miss – 4.29 seconds
  • 2018: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State – 4.32 seconds
  • 2017: John Ross, WR, Washington – 4.22 seconds (NFL record)
  • 2016: Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia – 4.31 seconds
  • 2015: J.J. Nelson, WR, UAB – 4.28 seconds
  • 2014: Dri Archer, RB, Kent State – 4.26 seconds

NFL Combine record – Fastest 40 time

  • Xavier Worthy, 2024 NFL Combine – 4.21 seconds
  • John Ross, 2017 NFL Combine – 4.22 seconds
  • Kalon Barnes, 2022 NFL Combine– 4.23 seconds
  • Chris Johnson, 2008 NFL Combine – 4.24 seconds
  • Tarik Woolen, 2022 NFL Combine – 4.26 seconds
  • Dri Archer, 2014 NFL Combine – 4.26 seconds
  • Jerome Mathis, 2005 NFL Combine – 4.26 seconds
  • Henry Ruggs, 2020 NFL Combine 4.26 seconds

Fastest 40 yard dash by position

  • Michael Vick – 4.33 seconds – Fastest 40 yard dash by a QB
  • Chris Johnson – 4.24 seconds – Fastest 40 yard dash by a RB
  • Xavier Worthy– 4.21 seconds – Fastest 40 yard dash by a WR
  • Vernon Davis – 4.38 seconds – Fastest 40 yard dash time by a TE
  • Terron Armstead – 4.71 seconds – Fastest 40 time by offensive lineman
  • Amare Barno – 4.36 seconds – Fastest 40 time by a defensive lineman
  • Shaquem Griffin – 4.39 seconds – Fastest 40 by a linebacker
  • Kalon Barnes – 4.23 seconds – Fastest 40 by a cornerback
  • Nick Cross – 4.34 seconds – Fastest 40 time by a safety
  • Michael Badgley – 4.94 seconds – Fastest 40 time by a kicker
  • Jake Camarda – 4.56 seconds – Fastest 40 time by a punter

At the 2023 NFL Combine, Pittsburgh defensive lineman Calijah Kancey ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a defensive tackle since the official recording began in 2003.

Fastest NFL players 2023

Who’s the fastest NFL player right now?

DK Metcalf is the fastest NFL player right now, clocking a league-best 22.23 mph during the 2023 season.

Fastest NFL players 2023

  1. DK Metcalf, Seahawks – 22.23 mph (Week 13)
  2. Chase Brown, Bengals – 22.05 mph (Weel 14)
  3. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins – 22.01 mph (Week 5)
  4. De’Von Achane, Dolphins – 21.93 mph (Week 3)
  5. Kavontae Turpin, Cowboys – 21.91 mph (Week 14)
  6. De’Von Achane, Dolphins – 21.76 mph (Week 5)
  7. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins – 21.68 mph (Week 13)
  8. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins – 21.66 mph (Week 1)
  9. Raheem Mostert, Dolphins – 21.62 mph (Week 2)
  10. Kenneth Walker, Seahawks – 21.56 mph (Week 8))

The aforementioned speeds are tracked by NextGenStats, which monitors the fastest NFL players on each play.

What is the fastest NFL team?

The Miami Dolphins were the fastest NFL team in 2023, with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Devon Achane and Raheem Mostert recognized as three of the fastest NFL players today.

Fastest players in Madden 24

Tyreek Hill is the fastest player in Madden 24, earning the only 99 speed rating in the entire game. Here are the fastest players in Madden 24.

Madden 24 speed ratings

  1. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins – 99 speed
  2. Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions – 98 speed
  3. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins – 98 speed
  4. Marquis Brown, Arizona Cardinals – 97 speed
  5. Quez Watkins, Philadelphia Eagles – 97 speed
  6. Anthony Schwartz, Cleveland Browns – 96 speed
  7. Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers – 96 speed
  8. Mecole Hardman, New York Jets – 96 speed
  9. Tyquan Thornton, New England Patriots – 96 speed
  10. Andre Baccellia, Arizona Cardinals – 95 speed

Fastest NFL players 2022

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the fastest NFL players in 2022 based on Next Gen Stats’ sprint speed. Importantly, NGS is specifically measuring the top maximum speed recorded on a single play. As a result, Parris Campbell was the fastest NFL player in 2022.

Fastest NFL players 2022

  1. Parris Campbell, New York Giants – 22.11 mph – 26-yard run
  2. Kenneth Walker, Seattle Seahawks – 22.09 mph – 74-yard touchdown run
  3. Breece Hall, New York Jets – 21.87 mph – 62-yard touchdown run
  4. DeSean Jackson, Baltimore Ravens – 21.72 mph – 62-yard reception
  5. Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers – 21.72 mph – 46-yard touchdown run
  6. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins – 21.68 mph – 84-yard touchdown reception
  7. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings – 21.68 mph – 81-yard touchdown run
  8. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars – 21.62 mph – 62-yard touchdown run
  9. Devin Duvernay, Baltimore Ravens – 21.6 mph – 103-yard KO return touchdown
  10. Tariq Woolen, Seattle Seahawks – 21.58 mph – 40-yard pick-six
  11. Cobie Durant, Los Angeles Rams – 21.5 mph – 85-yard pick-six
  12. Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens – 21.48 mph 75-yard touchdown reception

However, many still view Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver as the fastest NFL player in 2023. Teamed up with Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins have two of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL. It is worth noting, Hill doesn’t have the fastest 40 yard dash time in NFL history. Furthermore, Hill doesn’t even rank inside the top 20 for fastest ball carrier in 2022.

Further below you can find the fastest NFL players last season and more details on the fastest 40 times in NFL history.

Who ran the fastest 40 yard dash 2022?

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Kalon Barnes (4.23 seconds) ran the fastest 40 yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine Unlike Tyquan Thornton seeing his official 40 time downgraded by the NFL after initially setting the record, Barnes 4.23 40 time was official. Barnes, a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, spent his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings.

This means that Barnes is in the record books as running the second fastest 40 time in NFL Scouting Combine history behind John Ross.

Related: NFL games today – 2023 NFL schedule

A fast stopwatch at the 2022 NFL Combine led to buzz when Tyquan Thompson seemingly set the record with a 4.21 40-yard dash time. However, the NFL officially announced following Thursday’s event that Thornton officially finished with a 4.28 time. It would finish just ahead of the Tyreek Hill 40 time set at his Pro Day.

Official fastest 40 yard times at 2022 NFL Combine

  • Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor — 4.23 seconds
  • Tarik Woolen, CB, Texas-San Antonio – 4.26 seconds
  • Tyquan Thompson, WR, Baylor – 4.28 seconds
  • Velus Jones, WR, Tennessee – 4.31 seconds
  • Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis – 4.32 seconds
  • Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State – 4.33 seconds
  • Danny Gray, WR, SMU – 4.33 seconds
  • Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers – 4.34 seconds
  • Nick Cross, S, Maryland – 4.35 seconds
  • Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State – 4.36 seconds
  • Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State – 4.38 seconds
  • Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State – 4.39 seconds
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