Fastest Linebacker 40-Yard Dash Times in NFL Combine History

Does anyone in the 2024 class have a legitimate shot to break the all-time NFL Combine record of 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the LB position?

There’s an argument to be made that no position has seen a bigger evolution over the last 10 years than the linebacker position. If you need evidence for this claim, then you really need to look no further than the blazing 40-yard dash times we’ve seen from the position over the last decade.

The need for NFL teams to find speedy backers who can guard Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield, carry Travis Kelce up the seam, and spy Lamar Jackson while maintaining gap integrity against opposing rushing attacks is currently at a premium.

This speed revolution in the league has led to the collegiate game producing some mind-blowing linebackers in recent years.

When you take a closer look at the best 40-yard dash times the LB position has ever produced at the NFL Combine, you’ll quickly realize how the position has changed drastically in today’s modern game of football.

Fastest Linebacker 40-Yard Dash Times of All Time

These times are not typos. Grown men who weigh north of 230 pounds posted these blazing times in Indianapolis over the last decade.

1) Shaquem Griffin, UCF (2018) | 4.38

Perhaps no player had a better success story entering the NFL than UCF’s Shaquem Griffin, who helped continue his storied journey to the professional level with a memorable performance at the 2018 NFL Combine.

Despite being born with a medical condition that led to his fingers not developing properly on his left hand — which led to his hand being amputated at age four — Griffin still managed to steal the show with a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash.

Griffin had an exceptional collegiate career in Orlando, registering 122 total tackles, 18.5 sacks, and three interceptions. His top-shelf collegiate production, combined with his outstanding performance at the Combine, helped raise his draft stock high enough for the Seattle Seahawks to select him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Griffin’s story of making it to the NFL is one that is timeless and inspiring. Despite his professional career not panning out like many hoped — 25 total tackles through 46 games — his 40-yard time still stands as the top mark ever posted at the position at the NFL Combine.

T-2) Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (2020) | 4.39

Listing this player as a linebacker sort of feels like cheating, but Isaiah Simmons has predominantly played linebacker at the NFL level, which qualifies him for this list after running a 4.39 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Simmons represents the evolution of the position in today’s NFL, where the line can be blurred by hybrid safeties at the collegiate level who have some limitations in coverage but have the speed to pursue from sideline to sideline at the professional level.

Despite his multi-faceted role, spending time as a single-high safety, box safety, linebacker, and slot defender, in Brett Venables’ defense during his collegiate days at Clemson, Simmons’ 40 time helped solidify his draft stock as a top-10 pick.

The Arizona Cardinals selected Simmons No. 8 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he didn’t finish his rookie deal with the team, joining the New York Giants in 2023.

Simmons’ story isn’t completely written quite yet, but his jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none role in NFL defenses has led to an uncertain future heading into the 2024 offseason.

T-2) Micah Parsons, Penn State (2021) | 4.39

If you had the capabilities to create a linebacker for today’s NFL in a laboratory, odds are the final product would look something like Micah Parsons. His 4.39 speed on a powerful 6’3” 245-pound frame is the stuff of nightmares for opposing OL units to game plan for on a weekly basis.

Parsons is effective in a handful of roles. He can play your traditional off-ball linebacker who patrols sideline to sideline or carries slot receiving threats up the seam. He can also terrorize opposing pass-protection schemes by lining up anywhere from a 0-9 technique in pass-rushing situations and overwhelm offensive linemen with his explosiveness.

Parsons’ dynamic pass-rushing ability, which has produced 40.5 sacks through his first three seasons, has drawn comparisons to the great Lawrence Taylor. If you want to see a glimpse of what every NFL defense envisions for an impact linebacker in today’s NFL, then look no further than Parsons.

Fastest LB 40-Yard Dash Times: Honorable Mentions

The linebackers listed above have set the new gold standard for top speed entering the NFL, but they are far from the only prospects to post elite testing numbers at the position.

Devin White (4.42) and Devin Bush (4.43) both ran sub 4.5 times in the 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Combine, which further solidifies that teams want players on the second level of their defense who can run with some of the faster skill-position players of today’s NFL.

KEEP READING: 2024 NFL Combine Measurements

White even helped spearhead a defense that won a Super Bowl back in 2020 and has amassed 566 total tackles, 23 sacks, and three interceptions through the first five years of his NFL career.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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