The 40-yard dash: the gold standard for speed in National Football League workouts. An exercise that can boost or diminish a draft prospect’s standings as much as a single round or more, for better or for worse. Darrius Heyward-Bey, now with the Colts and originally with the Oakland Raiders, was a reach when Al Davis grabbed him with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 as the first wide receiver off the board.
Davis’s reasoning? A large part of it had to do with the fact that Heyward-Bey ran a 4.30 at the combine. That time, which would’ve put him in second this year, was the fastest of the 2009 class and caused Heyward-Bey to go before Percy Harvin, Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Mike Wallace. Some of those guys have worked out, some haven’t, but all of them would’ve probably been better picks — no disrespect to Heyward-Bay.
When a player like Jadeveon Clowney runs a 4.53 at the combine, it makes scouts sit up and take notice. While his time wouldn’t even qualify for the top 20, he’s the fastest player that’s weighed in at 260-plus pounds since Jimmy Graham — and he’s faster than Graham. That’s terrifying. Here’s a list of 10 prospects who are faster than him and will probably have to use that speed to run away from Clowney in the near future. All data is from the NFL.