Who would win in a race between the NFL's fastest players?


Who really is the fastest man in the National Football League?

From the days of Red Grange being called The Galloping Ghost to the rumours and speculation of just how fast Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson were back in the 80s, the NFL has always been obsessed with speed. 

With the evolution of the NFL Combine from an event for scouts and talent evaluators to a live broadcasted event that people tune into for hours at a time, the focus on speed has never been higher, which was shown by John Ross trending on social media for hours after his record-breaking 40-yard-dash time.

But the 40 isn't perfect. As one of my colleagues pointed out recently, being quick over the first 40 yards is a lot different to being quick over 100, and that it doesn't truly reflect game speed. 

So, we want to work through the NFL's stars and come to a conclusion on who really is the quickest player in the league right now. The top-10 kicks off here...

10) Leonard Fournette

The Jacksonville Jaguars running back might not have run the best 40-yard-dash time, and it's easy to see why when he weighs in at about 40 pounds heavier than anyone else on this list.

But when it comes to in-game speed, Fournette is damn near uncatchable.

In his rookie season last year, the former LSU star was clocked at the fastest speed of any ballcarrier in the NFL when he hit a top speed of 22.05 MPH on this touchdown run. On the play, he blazes by Steelers safety Sean Davis, leaving him in the dust. Wait, what's that, Davis ran a 4.46 40? Yeah, Fournette has legit speed. 

9) Byron Jones

While Fournette was the fastest ballcarier in the league last year, it was the Dallas Cowboys defensive back Byron Jones that recorded the quickest speed out of every player in the league.

While chasing Eagles running back Jay Ajayi, who had shot through a gap and look destined for the house, Jones managed to stop the London-born star as he reached a top speed of 22.11 mph, 0.6 faster than Fournette. 

The Cowboys DB ran a 4.36 40 so it's safe to say that sometimes that speed really does carry over into gameday.

8) Troy Apke

Now we're getting into the real speedsters. Troy Apke is in his rookie season with the Washington Redskins, after being taken in the 4th round out of Penn State where he played safety for the Nittany Lions as well as running track.

Washington Redskins v New England Patriots

It's that track background that gets Apke in this list, thanks to his personal best in the 100m being a very tidy 10.81, which to go along with his 4.34 40 time and blazing 4.03s in the 20-yard shuttle means he is more than deserving of being in the Top-10. But there's still quicker to come...

7) Ted Ginn

Although he may be 32-years-old now, Ted Ginn can still light up every single defensive back in the NFL when he gets a nice release.

Drew Brees' favourite target to take the top off a defense, Ginn used to race in 110m hurdles and 4x100 relays as well, even taking on Usain Bolt in one meet, where he claimed Bolt wasn't able to undo the lead he'd built up.

"[Bolt] was the anchor, and I was the second leg," Ginn told ESPN in an interview. "I opened up and gave us that lead that he couldn't get back. So, you know, man, I've done run against the best of the best."

He's also ran a sub 4.30 40-yard-dash and has a PB of 21.16 in the 200m. Ted Ginn was rapid back in the day, and we've seen nothing to suggest he's slowed down all that much in recent years. For a bit of fun, check out how easily he won this race...

6) Taylor Gabriel

It's not often that a player manages to go from FCS to becoming a key part of an offense in the NFL, but Taylor Gabriel managed just that after his college career with Abilene Christian in Texas.

Like all the remaining players left in the running, Gabriel is an explosive wide receiver who finished his time at ACU with 3,027 yards and 27 touchdowns over his four years at the Wildcats.

And while he may not have been invited to the combine, the current Chicago Bear managed a 4.27 in the 40 at his Pro Day. That is serious speed that we see on the field time and time again. When Gabriel gets a step, he's gone. 

New England Patriots v Chicago Bears

5) John Ross

I know what you're thinking, the man that broke Chris Johnson's NFL Combine record in the 40 is 5th on the list? 

But while John Ross absolutely tore it up at the combine and beat that decade-old record, his speed surprisingly doesn't translate that well across longer distances. With his best time over 100 metres being in the 10.6 range, the NFL actually has speedsters that can keep it up better than Ross - who may just be a 40 star rather than the NFL's actual quickest man.

4) J.J. Nelson 

Want to know why the little-known JJ Nelson is on this list? It's because if you take away this season, the man is averaging over 19 yards per reception on his career. That is craziness that has only been hampered by how bad Mike McCoy's offense was in Arizona before he got fired by the Cardinals. 

Nelson played for the University of Alabama at Birmingham in college, a team who are nicknamed the Blazers, probably because they had Nelson and just thought "Jesus Christ, he's so fast, let's name ourselves after him".

Running a 4.28 in the 40, to go along with a 10.49 100m time, Nelson unfortunately just missed out on the podium. 

Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers

3) Jakeem Grant

Jakeem Grant is one of my favourite players in the entire NFL, despite the fact that he's pretty much the WR4 on the Miami Dolphins and only touches the ball on end-arounds, fly sweeps and trick plays, because of how insanely good he was on NCAA 14 at Texas Tech and in every Madden he's appeared in.

At his Pro Day, the 5"7 Texan ran a 40-yard dash that was clocked at 4.1 by a New Orleans Saints scout. His electronically recorded 40 time was 4.34 seconds, but that was on an apparent bad day for Grant, who has previously ran 10.41 in the 100 metres on a track.

2) Marquise Goodwin 

Just missing out on the top spot is San Francisco 49ers man, Marquise Goodwin. The man is a former Olympian so there should be absolutely no doubt that he belongs so high up this list. 

Goodwin won two national championships in the long jump while at Texas and represented the United States at the 2008 IAAF World junior championships, the 2011 World University games, the 2011 IAAF World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics - where he came 10th.

Goodwin ran a 4.27 in his Combine 40, has insane track times of 10.24 and 21.24 in the 100 and 200 metres respectively, and can make things like this look easy on the football field...

1) Tyreek Hill 

Here we have it. The number one. The NFL's fastest man. Ladies and gentlemen, it's Tyreek Hill. 

Now this won't shock big fans of the game, but the Kansas City Chiefs star is nicknamed Cheetah for a reason.

Remember when we told you that Leonard Fournette was the fastest ballcarier in the NFL last year when he reached 22.05 MPH on a TD run? 

Well, Hill reached a top speed of 23.24 MPH on a 105-yard kickoff return against the Texans in 2016. That's a whole MPH faster than Fournette's run.

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs

The fastest 100m on this list so far is a 10.24. Hill ran 10.19. He's also ran 20.14 seconds in the 200m before, that would've been good enough for 6th place in the 200m Final at the 2016 Olympics. 

This isn't just NFL speed, this Chiefs receiver has legitimate Olympic sprinter speed. And that's why he's the fastest man in the NFL. 

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