The Fastest 40-Yard Dash Times in NFL History

“What’s the 40 time?” is a common refrain when discussing NFL hopefuls. The 40, referring to the 40-yard dash, is the shorthand metric for comparative speeds between NFL prospects. It almost never comes up after the draft, but it remains arguably the most important result of any of the combine or pro day tests. Whether or not they had long careers, these players recorded the fastest 40-yard dash times we’ve ever seen. In the event of ties, we’ll list the oldest times first.

The fastest 40-yard times you won’t see

12 Fastest 40-Yard Dashes in NFL History

The 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You might have heard that the legendary Bo Jackson clocked 4.13 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which is Usain Bolt-like speed. But you won’t see Bo Jackson on the list. His blazing 1986 time is unofficial and hand-timed, and we’re focusing on electronically timed results, which is why all these times are from the 21st century.

Next: The countdown begins

12. Tye Hill (TIE)

Tye Hill #24 of the Atlanta Falcons

Tye Hill plays for the Atlanta Falcons during a 2009 game against the Carolina Panthers. | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Time: 4.30 seconds

Year: 2006

The St. Louis Rams chose Tye Hill in the first round of the draft. The Clemson product also played for the Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, and Atlanta Falcons during a career that spanned 2006 to 2010. His was the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2006 draft combine.

Next: This speedster made a lot of stops during his brief career.

12. Yamon Figurs (TIE)

Yamon Figurs of the Oakland Raiders eludes Seattle Seahawks defenders.

Yamon Figurs runs against the Seattle Seahawks during a preseason game. | Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Time: 4.30 seconds

Year: 2007

Yamon Figurs also played his last game in the NFL during the 2010 season, after tearing his ACL during his rookie campaign with the Baltimore Ravens. He ended up with the Detroit Lions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Oakland Raiders, the Cleveland Browns, and the Tennessee Titans before entering the Canadian Football league, where he remained for one season with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Next: His elite speed appealed to one team.

12. Darrius Heyward-Bey (TIE)

12 Fastest 40-Yard Dashes in NFL History

Darrius Heyward-Bey suits up for the Steelers after being drafted by the Raiders. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Time: 4.30 seconds

Year: 2009

Let’s get one thing clear about now-deceased Hall of Fame Raiders owner/general manager/icon Al Davis: He loved fast players and he loved drafting fast players. So when Darrius Heyward-Bey ran a 4.30 at the 2009 NFL combine, Davis responded by taking the receiver with the seventh overall pick. That was, by most people’s estimations, way too high. Oh well. He didn’t amount to much for the Raiders, but he was still in the league in 2017, with the Steelers.

Next: The first player on our list under 4.30 seconds.

11. Fabian Washington

Fabian Washington tackles Michael Jenkins

Fabian Washington (left) started his career in Oakland. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Time: 4.29 seconds

Year: 2005

The cornerback out of Nebraska recorded one of the fastest 40-yard dash times in 2005 when he clocked a 4.29. Do you want to guess who drafted Washington? He went to the speed-loving Oakland Raiders with the 23rd overall pick that year. He played in 81 games over six seasons split between Oakland and Baltimore. Washington recorded six interceptions and 204 tackles during his NFL career.

Next: A role player who is one of the fastest of all time.

6. Jerome Mathis (TIE)

Jerome Mathis was a return specialist for the Houston Texans

Jerome Mathis was an all-pro returner as a rookie. | Bob Levey/Getty Images

Time: 4.28 seconds

Year: 2005

This wide receiver out of Hampton University clocked 4.28 seconds at the 2005 combine. The Houston Texans drafted him in the fourth round that season and put that speed to use. They put him in as a kick returner, and he racked up 1,542 return yards and two touchdowns during his all-pro and pro-bowl rookie season.

Next: Do you see the trend developing?

6. Jacoby Ford (TIE)

Jacoby Ford jumps into the stands in Oakland.

Jacoby Ford jumps into the stands in Oakland. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Time: 4.28 seconds

Year: 2010

Jacoby Ford, a super-speedy wide receiver, ran a 4.28 40-yard dash and was drafted by — yep, you guessed it — the Oakland Raiders with a more reasonable 101st overall pick. Ford was even faster than Heyward-Bey (the unofficial gold standard for “Al Davis will draft anyone who was faster than anyone else”), posting his time in 2010. He played with the team for four seasons, until the franchise did not offer him a new contract in 2014.

Next: We hate to be a broken record, but…

6. DeMarcus Van Dyke (TIE)

 

DeMarcus Van Dyke’s speed didn’t translate to the field. | Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Time: 4.28 seconds

Year: 2011

University of Miami product DeMarcus Van Dyke was also drafted by the Oakland Raiders, in the third round of the 2011 draft. That draft was owner/GM Al Davis’ last, as he passed away that in October 2011. We hate to sound like a broken record, but Van Dyke’s fate was similar to other speedsters drafted by the Raiders over the years. He didn’t play much for Oakland, and the team released him in 2012. He suited up for the Steelers for two years and landed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014.

Next: So far, so good.

6. J.J. Nelson (TIE)

J.S has one of the more recent fast 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine.

J.J. Nelson is fast and fairly productive for the Arizona Cardinals. | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Time: 4.28 seconds

Year: 2015

For most of the players we’ve discussed so far, speed didn’t translate to on-field production. Nelson’s first three seasons break the mold. He played in 11 or more games each year and hauled in multiple touchdowns in each of them. The Arizona Cardinals drafted him out of Alabama-Birmingham with the 159th overall pick in 2015.

Next: A recent blazing 40-yard dash time.

6. Jalen Myrick (TIE)

Jalen Myrick owns one of the fastest 40-yard dash times in NFL history,

Jalen Myrick takes in a Jacksonville Jaguars game from the bench. | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Time: 4.28 seconds

Year: 2017

Speed is one of the key skills cornerbacks need to possess, and University of Minnesota product Jalen Myrick has it. His 4.28 at the 2017 combine is one of the fastest 40-yard dash times we’ve ever seen, but he’s still waiting for his breakout season. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him in the seventh round, and he played in only five games as a rookie.

Next: Stop us if this is getting old.

4. Stanford Routt (TIE)

Stanford Routt #26 of the Oakland Raiders

Stanford Routt, another blazing fast Raiders player. | Bob Levey/Getty Images

Time: 4.27 seconds

Year: 2005

Are you getting sick of this yet? A player, in this case, Houston product Stanford Routt, posts one of the fastest 40-yard dash times in combine history. The Oakland Raiders draft that player, and he slips into obscurity. Except in this case, Routt didn’t. The defensive back spent seven seasons in Oakland and grabbed six of his 12 career interceptions in 2010 and 2011. He spent time with Houston and Kansas City in 2012 before leaving the league.

Next: It took a while for this speedster to have a breakout season.

4. Marquise Goodwin (TIE)

12 Fastest 40-Yard Dashes in NFL History

Marquise Goodwin | Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Time: 4.27 seconds

Year: 2013

Marquise Goodwin, a multi-sport athlete at Texas, put down a scorching 4.27 time at the 2013 NFL combine that stands as one of the fastest 40-yard dash times ever. The Buffalo Bills drafted him in the third round, but he didn’t amount to much there. Goodwin had a breakout season with the 49ers in 2017, hauling in 56 catches for 962 yards and two touchdowns.

Next: His breakout season never arrived.

3. Dri Archer

12 Fastest 40-Yard Dashes in NFL History

Dri Archer | Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Time: 4.26 seconds

Year: 2014

A running back out of Kent State, Archer wasn’t a highly-touted prospect before his combine showing, so his time definitely opened some eyes. After all, a 4.26 40-yard dash is fast. Real fast. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Archer in the third round of the 2014 draft, but he performed like a player who wasn’t highly-touted. He compiled just 63 rushing and receiving yards and 517 return yards over two seasons.

Next: Now for the clear-cut top two.

2. Chris Johnson

12 Fastest 40-Yard Dashes in NFL History

Chris Johnson | Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Time: 4.24 seconds

Year: 2008

The second-fastest electronically clocked player in NFL combine history, Chris Johnson’s time of 4.24 seconds stands as one of the fastest 40-yard dash times we’ve ever seen. Unlike some of the other players we’ve discussed so far, Johnson’s speed translated well to the field.

Nicknamed CJ2K after his 2,000-yard rushing campaign for the Tennessee Titans (who took him in the first round) in 2009, he has five other 1,000 yard rushing seasons to his name. He never ran for fewer than 1,000 yards until his seventh year in the league, when he moved from the Titans to the New York Jets.

Next: A recent speed demon clocked one of the fastest 40-yard dash times in history.

1. John Ross

John Ross of the University of Washington runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine

John Ross of Washington owns the official fastest 40-yard dash in NFL combine history. | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Time: 4.22 seconds

Year: 2017

Chris Johnson held the 40-yard dash record for almost a decade, but during the 2017 combine, University of Washington receiver John Ross blew everyone out of the water and set a new record of 4.22 seconds. Ross was unofficially clocked at 4.18 — which would put him within a respectable distance of Bo Jackson’s legendary (and unofficial) 4.13. Ross hasn’t made a huge impact on the field yet, but we’re guessing he’ll have plenty of chances to do so thanks to his elite speed.

Statistics courtesy of ESPN and Pro-Football-Reference.

Additional reporting by Matt Reevy.

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