Being fast is a huge benefit in the NFL, as it gives any player an advantage against their opponents.
There isn’t a single way to measure who is the league’s fastest player, but there are some statistics around that can help us to get an idea.
The Fastest 40 Meter Times
This is the traditional way of seeing who the best sprinter in the NFL is. Players run 40 meters against the clock at the NFL Combine or at the Pro Day event. The currently active player with the best time for this dash is John Ross.
Ross ran the 40 yards in just 4.22 seconds back in 2017, a time equaled by Usain Bolt. He joined the Cincinnati Bengals the same year and is currently with the New York Giants, whom he joined earlier in 2021 in a $2.5 million deal.
Second on the list is Marquise Goodwin, who ran the 40 yards in 4.27 seconds in 2013. As well as being a wide receiver with the Chicago Bears, he has competed in athletics events such as the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2015 Pan American Games, excelling in sports such as the long jump, 60 meters, and 100 meters.
More recently, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III ran the 40 meters in 4.27 seconds. He was the fastest player at the 2020 NFL Combine and soon after joined the Las Vegas Raiders in the draft. His time was the 4th fastest ever recorded since electronic timing was introduced in 1999.
Another player who is often listed among the fastest in the NFL is Tyreek Hill, who ran 40 meters in 4.29 seconds at the 2016 Combine event. The wide receiver has the nickname Cheetah because of his incredible speed, and he joined the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2016 draft.
Raheem Mostert is sometimes called the fastest player in the NFL too. The San Francisco 49ers running back has clocked in at 4.32 over 40 yards and was arguably the fastest player in college football before joining the NFL in the 2015 draft.
Not all players take part in this event, though. One notable player not on the list is Marquise Brown. The Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver has recorded exceptionally fast times in athletics events such as over 100 meters and 200 meters.
A Look at the NFL’s Next Gen Stats
The 40-yard dash gives us a good idea of who the fastest players in pro football are. Yet, they don’t tell us the full story. These numbers don’t take into account players running with the ball against opponents and while wearing their full football gear.
In this respect, the latest Next Gen Stats from the NFL could be helpful. They look at how fast people sprint during individual plays. The latest numbers give us a variety of interesting data on passing, running, tackling, and all of the other important elements of the game.
Earlier in 2021, a look at the fastest runs while carrying the ball showed Raheem Mostert at the top of the list. In fact, he occupied the top two places, reaching 23.09 mph on an 80-yard rushing touchdown and 22.73 mph on a 76-yard rush that also ended with a touchdown.
The next player on the list is Kenyan Drake, who reached a blazing 22.11 mph during a 69-yard race for a touchdown. The other player to reach speeds of over 22 mph was Jonathan Taylor.
The Evidence as Seen by Our Eyes
Of course, even all of these statistics don’t tell us everything we need to know. What about the players who are lightning quick but who don’t receive the ball after a fast run up the field? The Next Gen Stats don’t let us see the speed reached by those not directly involved in the play.
The evidence as seen by our eyes tell us that Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants is one of the fastest players in the league. Before joining the NFL as a running back in the 2018 draft after running 40 yards in 4.40 seconds at the Combine. He had set some impressive track and field times in his early life and the Next Gen Stats from past seasons have him reaching very close to 22 mph.
Another speedy running back, Dalvin Cook joined the Minnesota Vikings in the 2017 draft, having run the 100 meters dash in close to 10 seconds before that. The Next Gen Stats had him at over 22 mph in 2018. It will be interesting to see if he can overcome his injuries to become consistently rated among the NFL’s fastest players.
Of course, speed isn’t everything in this sport, as players need to have a range of other skills to go with their speed. The players we have looked at here are those who have managed to combine their lightning pace with the other abilities needed to stand out in this demanding sport.
As a comparison, you can check the top 10 all-time fastest players in NFL: https://edge.twinspires.com/nfl/top-10-fastest-nfl-players-of-all-time/
How do the ones mentioned compare to the hall of fame players in the list?
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