2020 NFL Draft Combine: Every top 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis since 1986
A year-by-year breakdown of every combine's fastest NFL prospect
It's NFL Combine season which means it's time to watch some former college kids try to run, lift, jump and catch their way into the hearts of scouts with the hopes of earning the right to have one of the league's 32 teams draft them onto the roster. Among the many events at this football convention that takes place in Indianapolis is the 40-yard dash. While far from the greatest indicator of NFL talent, it's at the very least an entertaining spectacle as it showcases elite athletes performing elite athletics.
In recent years, the standard for the peak speed at the 40-yard dash was eventual Titans running back Chris Johnson finishing at 4.24 seconds in 2008. It was just the second year after NFL.com started keeping track of every major combine stat for every player, and almost a decade after the league adopted the laser plane that electronically marks when a player has finished running the required 120 feet.
Before that, it was all hand measured with stopwatches, creating not just strange discrepancies in reports, but also creating some of the most fantastical urban legends about an athlete's greatness. As a result, there are now plenty of debates as to just how great some of these players performed during their combine day. Did Deion Sanders really run a 4.27, or, as he told Bill Belichick on the NFL Network, was it "faster than that"? Did Bo Jackson actually run a 4.13, or was just another one of the many -- and if that's not true, it makes one wonder whether he really was able to throw rocks so hard that it could kill a boar?
Regardless, those mythical times, or at least something close to it, were used in that moment and passed down for future generations to dissect. Here are the top verifiable (or, as verifiable as possible) 40-yard dash time of every NFL Combine from 1986 (all apocryphal/unverifiable numbers have been hit with an asterisk; pro days were excluded):
1987: Rod Woodson, 4.33
1988: Gaston Green, 4.29
1989: Deion Sanders, 4.27*
1990: James Williams 4.34
1991: Randal Hill, 4.34
1992: Rico Smith, 4.33
1993: John Morton, 4.39
1994: Andre Coleman, 4.41
1995: Joe Aska, 4.42
1996: Leeland Mcelroy, 4.35
1997: Yatil Green, 4.35
1998: Tony Simmons, 4.35
1999: Rondel Melendez, 4.24
2000: R. Jay Soward and Antwan Harris, 4.34
2001: Santana Moss, 4.31
2002: Aaron Lockett, 4.31
2003: Kevin Garrett, 4.31
2004: Carlos Francis, 4.31
2005: Jerome Mathis, 4.26
2006: Tye Hill, 4.30
2007: Yamon Figurs, 4.30
2008: Chris Johnson, 4.24
2009: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4.30
2010: Jacoby Ford, 4.28
2011: Demarcus van Dyke, 4.28
2012: Josh Robinson, 4.33
2013: Marquise Goodwin, 4.27
2014: Dri Archer, 4.26
2015: J.J. Nelson, 4.28
2016: Keith Marshall, 4.31
2017: John Ross, 4.22
2018: Donte Jackson, 4.32
2019: Zedrick Woods, 4.29
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