The linebacker position is evolving. In recent years, linebackers are getting faster and faster, and the impact of a true sideline-to-sideline ‘backer is being recognized across the league. Let’s take a look at the fastest linebacker 40-yard dash times in the history of the NFL Combine.
The NFL Combine’s fastest linebacker 40-yard dash times of all time
Here are some of the fastest linebacker speeds recorded at the NFL Combine in recent years.
T-2) Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (2020 Combine): 4.39-40-yard dash
Isaiah Simmons played a hybrid role at Clemson. He featured as a safety, nickel corner, linebacker, and even rushed off the edge. He did just about everything, and as a result, the hype around him ahead of the NFL Draft was electric.
Simmons then ran a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash and cemented himself as a top-10 pick. The Arizona Cardinals were looking at other players, but when Simmons fell to them at No. 8, they simply couldn’t pass on his talents.
Last season, he finally started to look like he was settling into a role with Arizona after a turbulent rookie season in which he struggled to get onto the field. He’s a jack of all trades who Arizona almost wasn’t sure what to do with. We’ve yet to see the best of Simmons.
T-2) Micah Parsons, Penn State (2021 Combine): 4.39 40-yard dash
Micah Parsons is the latest of a new breed of linebackers to surface in the modern NFL. At Penn State, he was everywhere. You could watch a Penn State game with zero prior knowledge, and Parsons would stand out to you within minutes.
His ability to be a true sideline-to-sideline athlete gives him tremendous value, and we saw him running opposition running backs off the sidelines time and time again. Once he gets onto you, you’re not going to turn the corner on him to get downfield.
Paired with Dan Quinn as his defensive coordinator, Parsons had a phenomenal rookie season. He played off the edge more than he ever had before and totaled 14 sacks on the season.
His sub-4.4 speed is a key part of his game, and Quinn and the Cowboys have found a way to unleash him very early in his career.
1) Shaquem Griffin, UCF (2018 Combine): 4.38 40-yard dash
Shaquem Griffin rewrote the script and will be remembered for far more than his 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. He was born with a condition that meant his fingers didn’t develop properly on his left hand. The pain was so severe that it led to Griffin and his parents deciding to have the hand amputated at four years old.
Despite the adversity of being an amputee, Griffin had a successful career as a linebacker with the UCF Knights, and his talents saw him selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.
Griffin’s journey to the NFL is one that inspired children around the world, and he embraces his platform. He’s also pretty fast. Griffin holds the fastest recorded 40-yard dash time by a linebacker in NFL Combine history.
All of the fastest linebacker times seem to come from the most recent events. That’s a testament to how the position has evolved and the athletes that now lead the charge among NFL linebackers.
Devin White ran a 4.42 at the NFL Combine back in 2019, but he supposedly ran a 4.37 away from the event. Had that been recorded in Indianapolis, it would be the fastest time ever recorded by a linebacker. White has been instrumental with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now has a Super Bowl ring to show for it.
Devin Bush was just one second behind White at the same event, running a 4.43. The former Michigan linebacker was known for zipping around the field and showing up in just about every gap in college.
Deion Jones might have run a 4.58 at the NFL Combine, but he ran back to back 4.38 and 4.39 40-yard dashes at his college pro day. He is also among the fastest the league has seen at the position.