Fastest 40-Yard Dash NFL Combine: Fastest 40-Yard Runs in NFL Combine History

RankPlayerPositionYearTime (Seconds)
1John Ross IIIWR20174.22
T-2Rondel MenendezWR19994.24
T-2Chris JohnsonRB20084.24
T-4Jerome MathisWR20054.26
T-4Dri ArcherRB20144.26
T-6Kalon BarnesCB20224.23
T-6Henry Ruggs IIIWR20204.23
T-8Marquise GoodwinWR20134.24
T-8Ted Ginn Jr.WR20074.24
T-10Jacoby JonesWR20114.24
T-10Robert Griffin IIIQB20124.24

Every year, the NFL Combine captivates fans and scouts alike. While a plethora of drills test prospective athletes’ abilities, one consistently steals the spotlight: the 40-yard dash. This seemingly simple sprint has become ingrained in NFL lore, serving as a benchmark for speed and explosiveness. Today, we delve into the fastest 40-yard dash times ever recorded at the Combine, exploring the stories behind the men who etched their names into history.

Fastest 40-Yard Dash NFL Combine
Fastest 40-Yard Dash NFL Combine

The All-Time King: John Ross and His Blazing 4.22 Seconds

The undisputed champion of combine speed belongs to John Ross, a wide receiver who stunned the world in 2017 with a blistering 4.22-second run. Imagine sprinting 40 yards, roughly the length of a school bus, in the blink of an eye. That’s the electrifying feat Ross accomplished, leaving scouts in awe and instantly drawing comparisons to track stars. While his NFL career hasn’t mirrored his combined performance, his record stands as a testament to raw athleticism.

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Notable Contenders Pushing the Limits

While Ross holds the crown, several other athletes have come tantalizingly close. Kalon Barnes, a cornerback drafted in 2022, clocked a 4.23-second run, proving that blazing speed isn’t limited to offensive positions. The legendary Chris Johnson, a running back known for his game-breaking speed, recorded a 4.24-second run back in 2008, leaving a lasting impression on the league. Rondel Melendez, a wide receiver whose career was tragically cut short, also achieved a 4.24-second run in 1999, showcasing the depth of speed on display at the Combine.

The Nuances of Speed and the Combine

It’s crucial to remember that the 40-yard dash, while captivating, is just one piece of the puzzle for NFL hopefuls. Several factors contribute to on-field success, including agility, route running, football IQ, and game-day performance. While a blazing time can undoubtedly turn heads, scouts meticulously evaluate various aspects to identify players who can translate their skills to the rigors of professional football.

The Evolution of the 40-Yard Dash

The value of the 40-yard dash has also undergone subtle shifts over the years. While still relevant, it no longer holds the same absolute authority it once did. Teams now place greater emphasis on a more holistic approach, considering a wider range of drills and game film to assess a player’s overall skillset. This nuanced approach allows for a more comprehensive evaluation, ensuring teams draft players who can truly contribute on the field, regardless of their 40-yard dash time.

Examining Combine Records Across Positions

While speed demons often dominate headlines, it’s worth exploring the fastest 40-yard dash times by position:

  • Wide Receivers: John Ross (4.22 seconds)
  • Cornerbacks: Kalon Barnes (4.23 seconds)
  • Running Backs: Chris Johnson (4.24 seconds)
  • Linebackers: Shaquem Griffin (4.38 seconds)
  • Defensive Linemen: Mario Edwards Jr. (4.61 seconds)

These statistics highlight the diverse range of athleticism across positions in the NFL.

The Controversy Surrounding the 40-Yard Dash

While the 40-yard dash remains a captivating aspect of the Combine, some argue that its significance is overblown. Critics point out that the linear sprint doesn’t necessarily translate well to the complex demands of professional football, which often involve changing directions, reacting to plays, and exhibiting game intelligence. Additionally, the pressure and artificial setting of the Combine can sometimes hinder an athlete’s true potential, leading to misleading results.

The 40-Yard Dash as a Valuable Tool

Despite the criticisms, proponents of the 40-yard dash argue that it still holds value as a standardized test for gauging an athlete’s raw athleticism and explosiveness. It provides a baseline comparison across various positions and helps scouts identify players with the potential to excel in certain roles. While acknowledging its limitations, they view it as one piece of the evaluation puzzle, not the sole deciding factor.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Ultimately, the key lies in striking a balance between the 40-yard dash and other crucial aspects of evaluating NFL prospects. Teams should not rely solely on a single metric but utilize a comprehensive approach that incorporates film study, game tape analysis, performance in various drills, and interviews to gain a complete picture of an athlete’s potential.

Future of the 40-Yard Dash at the Combine

The future of the 40-yard dash at the Combine remains an interesting discussion point. As technology and analytics evolve, we may see the emergence of more sophisticated methods to assess athletic potential. However, it’s likely that the 40-yard dash will continue to hold some significance, perhaps in a revised format or alongside other advanced athletic testing procedures.

Conclusion: Fastest 40-Yard Dash Times

The fastest 40-yard dash times at the NFL Combine capture our imagination, showcasing the incredible athleticism of these elite athletes. While the allure of raw speed is undeniable, it’s crucial to remember that it’s just one facet of the evaluation process. By understanding the context, limitations, and evolving role of the 40-yard dash, we can appreciate its significance while acknowledging the importance of a holistic approach to identifying future stars in the NFL.


What are the benefits of running a fast 40-yard dash time at the Combine?

A fast 40-yard dash can generate positive buzz and raise an athlete’s draft stock, potentially leading to a higher draft position and signing bonus. However, it’s essential to remember that other factors play a significant role in the evaluation process.

Can a slow 40-yard dash time automatically disqualify a player from being drafted?

No, a slow 40-yard dash time doesn’t automatically disqualify a player from being drafted. Several successful NFL players, like Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, didn’t record exceptional times at the Combine, demonstrating that other attributes and game film hold significant weight in the evaluation process.

How much training goes into preparing for the 40-yard dash at the Combine?

Athletes often dedicate months of rigorous training leading up to the Combine, focusing on building speed, and explosiveness, and refining their running technique through specific drills and plyometrics.

What are some other drills performed at the Combine besides the 40-yard dash?

Athletes participate in various drills at the Combine, including the vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill, and shuttle run, each evaluating different aspects of an athlete’s physical abilities.

How can I follow the NFL Combine and witness the fastest 40-yard dash times?

The NFL Combine is typically broadcast live on various sports networks and streaming platforms. You can also follow news outlets and social media for updates and highlights from the event.

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