In the National Football League, speed is a vital commodity. The ability to outrun your opponents often means the difference between winning and losing, and it’s why a player’s combine results matter more than ever in the Draft. It’s reached a point where the best offshore sportsbooks even offer markets on who’ll have the fastest 40-yard dash time. With that in mind, let’s look at the five fastest NFL players of all time.

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders is considered one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history. He was also one of the fastest players the game had ever seen. During his time with the Atlanta Falcons, Sanders ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash. That time would stand as the official combined record for nearly two decades before it was finally broken in 2008 by Chris Johnson.

Bo Jackson                                                      

Bo Jackson was a two-sport star best known for his baseball career with the Kansas City Royals. However, he also had a brief but spectacular stint in the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders. In 1986, Jackson ran a 4.12-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. That time would stand as the unofficial combine record until Deion Sanders broke it two years later.

Jerome Mathis

Jerome Mathis only played four seasons in the NFL, but he made quite an impression during that time. As a rookie with the Houston Texans in 2005, Mathis set an official combine record by running a 4.31-second 40-yard dash. Unfortunately, injuries limited Mathis’ career, and he was out of the league by 2009. His record would stand for three years before Darrius Heyward-Bey broke it in 2008.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Darrius Heyward-Bey was the first wide receiver to be selected in the 2009 NFL draft when he was taken seventh overall by the Oakland Raiders. He was also one of the fastest players in that year’s draft class, running a 4.30-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Heyward-Bey’s time stood as the official combine record for wide receivers for three years before John Ross finally broke it in 2017.

Bryan Burnham

Bryan Burnham is a wide receiver for the CFL’s BC Lions, but he also briefly spent time on an NFL roster. In 2014, Burnham ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at his pro day while still playing college football at Tulsa. While that time is unofficial because it wasn’t run at the combine, it’s still impressive nonetheless—especially considering that Burnham is 6’2″ and 195 pounds.


Speed is a vital commodity in the National Football League—these five players are some of the fastest we’ve ever seen! Whether they’re sprinting downfield to make a catch or running away from defenders on their way to scoring a touchdown, these guys have what it takes to put points on the board in a hurry.