Home NFL Lists Fastest Players in NFL History – All-Time Hierarchy List

Fastest Players in NFL History – All-Time Hierarchy List

by Riley Baines
NFL Hierarchy All-Time Fastest NFL Players

Fastest Players in NFL History

If you’re expecting a list of the fastest 40 yard dash times or 100 meter times, this is not the list. While each of those play a factor in these rankings, the main factor to be considered is in-game speed. There have been many cases over the history of the NFL where a track star doesn’t have their speed translate well to the pro football level not even being close to one of the fastest NFL players. I will judge the fastest players in NFL history based on their combine metrics along with their impact on the field.

* marks hand timed metric instead of laser timed



Deion Sanders – Speed kills at all positions. Not only is he considered the best cornerback in NFL history, he is also one of the best returners in NFL history. Deion Sanders is a legend of the game who became the GOAT with his feet and not his tackling ability.


Tyreek Hill – I usually avoid recency bias like the plague, but Tyreek Hill is an exception. If it weren’t for him being a world class NFL player, he would have become a world class track star competing in the Olympics. That’s why he’s called “Cheetah”.


Darrell Green – The ageless wonder. It’s hard enough playing 20 years in the NFL, and Darrell Green spent his entire career with the Washington Redskins. He also ran the 40 yard dash at 50 years finishing with a time of 4.43 seconds.


Bob Hayes – It was very hard not including Bob Hayes in tier 1. Not only is this guy the only man in history to win an Olympic gold medal and Super Bowl, his 100 meter dash time was a world record. Nowadays the modern athlete has caught up to him, but at the time he was the fastest man in the world.


Randy Moss – They called him the Super Freak. He goes down as the greatest deep threat ever with his long strides making all the separation needed. If it weren’t for Jerry Rice he would also be considered the best Wide Receiver in NFL history.


Bo Jackson – The ultimate what if story. Bo Jackson might be the greatest athlete ever earning pro-bowl honors in the NFL and all-star honors in the MLB. His longevity leaves much to be desired, but nobody questioned his speed.


Chris Johnson – Breaking the record for fastest 40 yard dash time is one thing, but backing it up is another. Unlike other gym heroes, Chris Johnson translated his track speed onto the field embarrassing many defenders in the process.


Willie Gault – Another guy who ran a 4.4 40 yard dash at 50 years old. He never found great success as a Wide Receiver never earning a pro-bowl, but finished with a modest 19.9 yards per reception over an 11 year career.


Cliff Branch – One of the best players ever not in the hall of fame. 3x 1st team all-pro and 3x Super Bowl champion. Maybe he just played in the wrong era.


Desean Jackson – Consider this proof that combine metrics should not be the only thing considered when judging a players speed. While DJax only ran an official 4.35 40 yard dash, he immediately became one of the most electric players in the NFL with his run after the catch ability.


Trindon Holliday – He quickly became one of the most dangerous returners in the NFL, but inconsistency led to his early departure.  Trindon Holliday struggled to cleanly return punts/kicks and turnovers are a big no no no matter how dangerous you are.


Devin Hester – Another case of combine metrics not being only way to measure speed. The worst 40 yard dash time of any player on this list, but the only player to earn a 100 speed rating on Madden. He let his play do the talking.


Michael Vick – While Lamar Jackson has generated a lot of buzz, it is Michael Vick who is the fastest Quarterback ever. Lamar may be quicker, but the top speed of Vick is unmatched.


Ron Brown – A case of a track star in football pads. He was a solid returner over his career even earning all-pro honors once, but he never became an elite player.


Dante Hall – The X-Factor. Dante Hall was someone who was more quick than fast. His side to side speed allowed him to become one of the best returners in the NFL.


Joey Galloway – Fun fact: Joey Galloway is the all-time leader for receiving yards and touchdowns for players not nominated to a pro bowl.


Ike Taylor – Too many people forgot about Ike Taylor. This 4th round pick ended up playing all 12 seasons of his career for the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Jacoby Ford – Another case of a track star who did not have their speed translate well with pads on. He had some great moments as a returner in the NFL, but inconsistency led to his early departure.


Barry Sanders – The most elusive player ever because of his side to side speed. That being said, his top speed is what keeps him from being ranked higher on this list.


Champ Bailey – One of the best players to never win a Super Bowl and a player who you should expect to be elected into the pro football hall of fame very soon.


John Ross – The 40 yard dash isn’t everything. He holds the record for fastest 40 yard dash time ever, but he has yet to hit stride as an NFL Wide Receiver.


Julio Jones – He is quickly moving up on the list of best Wide Receivers ever. Julio Jones is the modern day Randy Moss.


Jamaal Charles – The all-time leader in yards per carry for players with over 1000 rushing attempts.


Herschel Walker – From bobsledding to MMA fighter. Herschel Walker was an athlete in every sense of the word. His skillset led to the largest and most lopsided trade in NFL history.


Marquise Goodwin – Another case of a track star speed not translated well into the NFL. He had his moments, but struggled to stay consistent throughout his NFL career leading to him riding the bench.


Percy Harvin – After winning Rookie of the Year, Percy Harvin struggled to reach that same level of play.


Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – His 4.29 40 yard dash led to him being drafted in the 1st round. What followed was him moving to 6 different teams becoming a journeyman over his career.


Charles Woodson – Early in his career he was one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history then seamlessly transitioned into one of the best safeties in NFL history.


Adrian Peterson – Somebody this big should not be able to run like Adrian Peterson. He was a freight train who could finish those long 60+ yard runs.


Patrick Peterson – He quickly became a fan favorite for the Cardinals earning 8 straight pro-bowl nominations in his first 8 seasons.


Tyler Lockett – But what about D.K. Metcalf? It’s still early and Tyler Lockett has been one of the most underrated deep threats over the past few seasons.


Reggie Bush – Many were quickly ready to label him an NFL Draft Bust, but he had a solid 11 year career.


Odell Beckham – One catch made him one of the most loved and hated players in the NFL. Hate him or love him, you need to respect his speed with or without the ball in his hands.


Cordarrelle Patterson – Not the best returner in NFL history, but the best Kick Returner in NFL history. His lack of punt returning is what keeps him out of the argument against Devin Hester who did it all.


Rod Woodson – One of the best cornerbacks in NFL history. He also is the all-time leader for most interceptions returned for a touchdown.




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james December 20, 2022 - 7:21 pm

this is goateed

james December 20, 2022 - 7:54 pm

this is goated. the fastest people like the tyreek hill dk metcalf russell wilson lamar jackson kenneth walker iii
tariq woolen.

Linford Ocloo August 19, 2023 - 5:05 pm

Tyreek Hill is an Olympic Sprinter dominating the NFL since 2016 and only him, Bob Hayes, Cliff Branch, and Chris Johnson speed translated well onto the Football Field. 20.14 200m at 18 years old is solely impressive and he’s a future Hall of Fame. The Cheetah 🐆 💨 Built Different💪🏿💯


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