Fastest Cornerback 40-Yard Dash Times in NFL Combine History

Cornerbacks have some of the fastest 40-yard dash times in NFL Combine history. Will Fresno State's Carlton Johnson post a record-breaking time?

While playing the cornerback position at a high level in the NFL generally requires exceptional hip fluidity, agility, and ball skills, being able to run stride for stride with some of the best athletes in the league is certainly an important part of the equation.

This begs the question, who put up the fastest cornerback 40-yard dash times at the NFL Combine, and did their incredible performance in this event translate to sustained success in the pros?

Fastest CB 40-Yard Dashes of All Time

The NFL game has continued to get faster and faster as the years pass. Speedy pass catchers like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Chris Olave will quickly expose cornerbacks (CBs) who don’t have the top-end speed to deter opposing offenses from simply taking vertical shot after vertical shot.

As a corner, it’s always advantageous to have excellent straight-line speed. If you can get out of your breaks, follow the receiver anywhere on the field, and end up running side-by-side downfield with them, that speed is going to come in handy.

One noteworthy observation… if you posted one of these historic times, then you had a high probability of playing for the Raiders. In fact, three of the five names on this list were drafted by the silver and black.

T-1) Kalon Barnes, Baylor (2022) | 4.23

Kalon Barnes holds the record for the fastest cornerback 40-yard dash time in NFL Combine history.

Any 40 time that breaks the 4.25 threshold is in elite company for the entire event. This wasn’t just the best time for CBs, but it’s the second-best time in the history of the NFL Combine (John Ross).

While Barnes was an absolute burner, and his electric 40 time likely helped him get drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, his career never materialized on the field. Barnes was cut after short stints with the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers.

T-1) DJ Turner II, Michigan (2023) | 4.23

Another CB who tore up the track in Indianapolis came from last year’s event, where Michigan’s DJ Turner II recorded the second-fastest cornerback 40-yard dash time in NFL Combine history.

Turner’s 4.23 time in the 40-yard dash while playing at 6’0” and 180 pounds certainly caught the eyes of NFL scouts across the league.

MORE: What Is the Average Bench Press at the NFL Combine?

This time helped solidify Turner as one of the premier corners in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati Bengals were encouraged enough by his collegiate production and performance at the Combine that they ultimately decided to invest the 60th overall pick in the talented prospect.

Turner had a productive rookie campaign with 40 solo tackles, 10 assists, and one sack while starting 12 games during his first NFL season. His story is far from complete, but Turner’s career is off to a promising start.

3) Tariq Woolen, UTSA (2022) | 4.26

Speaking of NFL careers off to a promising start, Seattle Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen has quickly established himself as one of the best young corners in the league over the last two years. After turning some heads with an overly impressive number of 4.26 with a 6’4” 210-pound frame at the 2022 NFL Combine, Woolen’s draft stock jumped all the way into the fifth round.

Woolen would make an instant impact for Pete Carroll’s defense, earning Pro Bowl honors his rookie year by transforming his impressive Combine performance into a fifth-round selection by the Seattle Seahawks.

In his first year with the team, Woolen was selected to the Pro Bowl with 63 total tackles and six interceptions — which was tied for the league’s most.

Woolen is set to be an anchor of a young — but very talented — secondary in Seattle for years to come.

4) Stanford Routt, Houston (2005) | 4.27

The Houston Cougars have put plenty of impact players into the NFL over the years. Stanford Routt certainly generated a ton of buzz after posting, at the time, the fastest 40-yard dash at the cornerback position in the event’s history at 4.27 seconds.

Routt excelled as a member of the football program and track team at the University of Houston, running both indoor and outdoor track for the Cougars.

He was selected by the then-Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Routt had a lengthy seven-year career with the Raiders and helped form a talented duo alongside Nnamdi Asomugha.

After his time in Oakland, Routt shortly joined the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans before his career ended after the 2012 NFL season. He compiled 265 total tackles, two sacks, and 12 interceptions but never made it to a Pro Bowl over his nine-year career.

T-5) Champ Bailey, Georgia (1999) | 4.28

One of the best cornerbacks to ever step on the field was also one of the fastest to ever run at the Combine. The one and only Champ Bailey lived up to the hype when he ran a 4.28 40-yard dash — fast enough to hold the record at the position for six years.

The Georgia Bulldog product would become a first-ballot Hall of Famer with a résumé that can stand against some titans of the cornerback position, including names like Deion Sanders, Mel Blount, and Darrelle Revis.

Washington selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, and he instantly became one of the cover corners in the league.

MORE: How Does the NFL Measure Arm Length at the NFL Combine?

His time in Washington abruptly ended when Bailey and the team had a falling out that led to the franchise cornerback seeking a trade. In what was easily one of the biggest blockbuster trades of its era, Bailey was traded to the Denver Broncos in a deal that included RB Clinton Portis.

The trade was a home run for the Broncos, who saw Bailey anchor their defense for the next 10 years with some of the best individual seasons from the position in NFL history.

Bailey’s career achievements still make him one of the most decorated cornerbacks of all time: three-time first-team All-Pro, four-time second-team All-Pro, 12 Pro Bowl appearances, the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team, and a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

T-5) Jalen Myrick, Minnesota: 4.28

Jalen Myrick is another name that was added to this list over the last decade when he posted a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine. As impressive as his performance was in Indianapolis, Myrick was drafted in the final round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Myrick was mostly relegated to special teams before the franchise waived him in 2018. Unfortunately, he was unable to earn a roster spot with the Atlanta Falcons or the Minnesota Vikings. Myrick contributed one solo tackle and one kick return for 18 yards during his time with the Jaguars.

T-5) DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami: 4.28

The list of impactful cornerbacks to come from the University of Miami is about as long as your usual CVS receipt — quite lengthy if you were curious about that reference. Still, many may not realize that it was DeMarcus Van Dyke who posted the fastest 40-time of the Hurricane CBs to participate at the Combine.

A blistering time of 4.28 in the 40-yard dash time contributed significantly to him being selected in the third round by the Raiders with the 81st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He struggled to break into the rotation, which became the story of his pro career.

KEEP READING: Fastest Defensive Linemen 40-Yard Dash Times in NFL Combine History

Van Dyke spent one season with the Raiders, where he made a modest contribution his rookie year, compiling 13 total tackles and recording one interception while starting four games in 2011.

Unfortunately, that would be his only season in Oakland. Van Dyke would go on to spend some time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings before ultimately entering the coaching ranks after his final stint with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. Currently, he is the cornerbacks coach for Florida International University.

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