The following is a list of the fastest football players of all time at the NFL combine since 1999, when the NFL combine started using electronic timing. Prior to electronic timing, players were timed using stop watches.
In 1986, Bo Jackson from Auburn was timed in the 40 at the NFL combine with a stop watch at 4.12 seconds. That is the fastest time ever for players timed with stop watches, or any other device. Bo Jackson had a short but brilliant four year NFL career, during which he had TD runs of 88, 91, and 92 yards, and ran for one of the highest yards per carry averages in NFL history at 5.4 yards per carry.
In 1989, Deion Sanders was timed at 4.28 seconds with a stopwatch, which is fast enough to make this list. Counting Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, I've listed the 10 players with the fastest 40 yard dash times at the NFL combine.
Ten fastest football prospects of all time at the NFL combine (since 1999)
T-1. Chris Johnson (2008) - 4.24
At the NFL combine in 2008, running back Chris Johnson from East Carolina ran the all-time fastest 40 yard dash time of 4.24 seconds that was timed electronically. Chris Johnson has gone on to have a great NFL career, winning a rushing title and running for over 2,000 yards (2,006) in 2009 for the Tennessee Titans.
T-1. Rondel Melendez (1999) - 4.24
Eastern Kentucky wide receiver Rondel Melendez also ran a 4.24 time in the 40 at the 1999 NFL combine, the first year with electronic timing. Melendez was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round, but had no real NFL career.
3. Dri Archer (2014) - 4.26
Running back Dri Archer from Kent State ran a 4.26 in the 40 at the 2014 NFL combine. Dri Archer had an incredibly productive college career at Kent State. Archer averaged 8.3 yards per touch from the line of scrimmage, scoring 36 touchdowns in 424 touches. Dri Archer also returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in 51 attempts.
Can Dri Archer play in the NFL at a height of 5' 8" and weight of 175 lbs? It will be very interesting to see where he is drafted at the 2014 NFL Draft.
4. Marquise Goodwin (2013) - 4.27
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin from Texas ran the 40 yard dash in 4.27 seconds at the 2013 NFL combine. Goodwin was taken by the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and he had 17 catches for a 16.6 yards per catch average and three touchdowns as a rookie.
T-5. Jerome Mathis (2005) - 4.28
Wide receiver Jerome Mathis from Hampton ran a 4.28 at the 2005 NFL combine. Mathis was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Jerome Mathis played three years in the NFL, catching six total passes for one touchdown, and he also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
T-5. Champ Bailey (1999) - 4.28
Defensive back Champ Bailey from Georgia ran a 4.28 at the 1999 NFL combine. Bailey has now played in the NFL for 15 years, and been a pro bowl selection 12 times after being taken with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
T-5. Jacoby Ford (2010) - 4.28
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford from Clemson ran a 4.28 at the 2010 NFL combine. Taken by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Jacoby Ford has caught 57 passes for a 14.9 yards per catch average with three TD catches in the NFL. Ford has also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, and has two more rushing TDs in his four year NFL career.
T-5. DeMarcus Van Dyke (2011) - 4.28
Defensive back DeMarcus Van Dyke from Miami ran a 4.28 at the 2011 NFL combine. Van Dyke was drafted in the third round by the Raiders. He has played three years in the NFL, mainly as a back-up to date.