There is no doubt it is the slow time of the NFL offseason. Are your days spent dreaming about football? Redzone Channel? Which QB is the goat? Who is the fastest player in the NFL? Well, if you’ve ever wondered about that, Chad Ochocinco is giving us a taste. Yes, you read that correctly, Ochocinco is hosting a competition for current and former players to find out who is the NFL’s Fastest Man where the winner gets $1.1 million.
The competition is based on who can run the fastest 40-yard dash. Current players like Alvin Kamara, Marquise Goodwin, Ted Ginn Jr., and Donte Jackson will compete with former speedsters like Jacoby Ford and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Fun, yes, but satisfying? No.
Back to the daydreaming— if you’ve read this far, there’s a chance your mind is already spinning with who you would want to see in a race to crown the NFL’s Fastest Man. Same here, so let’s take a look back and find the perfect 16 racers for the real race to find the NFL’s all-time fastest man.
Before we start naming names, we need to set the bar for entrance into our dream 40-yard dash. Since the tournament is based around the 40, we have to take into account numbers from pro-days or the combine.
Now for the fun stuff— let’s consider things like Madden ratings, nicknames, past mystique, and all-around swagger. Another bonus for our racers resume is if they ran track and field. Since this is a made-up race, we have to take unofficial 40 times and stories of speedy-lore into account.
Last, the racers were narrowed down into two regions, Modern and Legend. The Modern group represents the players of today, and the Legend has players that span across the history of the league.
NFL Modern Day
Receivers dominate the modern category with seven of the eight racers being pass-catchers. San Francisco 49ers wideout Marquise Goodwin will race in Ochocinco’s edition of the tournament and has a good shot at winning, but Goodwin’s speed is true in any race. Goodwin has a long track and field history that lead him all the way to the Olympics in 2012. Goodwin’s biggest competition will probably be Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill. Hill is electric on the field with elite acceleration off the jump. Hill earned a 99-speed rating on the most recent edition of Madden, and that doesn’t come easy.
It wouldn’t be a respectable field without including John Ross. Although Ross has had a disappointing start to his career, he still owns the crown for fastest 40 recorded at the combine with a 4.22. Ross’s performance earns him a bid to any race.
One of the more unproven, but exciting competitors in our field is the 2019 NFL Draft first overall pick, Kyler Murray. Murray had lethal speed at Oklahoma but declined to run the 40-yard dash. The hype around Murray’s speed was so loud that it was hard to ignore when dreaming up a list of the fastest players in today’s league.
When it comes to modern players, it’s easy to refer to the data. We track everything now, but when it comes to former players those things like mystique, nicknames and legend come into play. Looking at the numbers is easy, but here is where the real debate begins; fantasy football.
When you hear some of these names in this group, you instantly begin to think of their tall tales of speed. Look at some of the nicknames in the throwback region— “Bullet,” “Rocket,” and “The X Factor.” Those names weren’t given out because they were slow.
You can’t have a debate about speed without mentioning Michael Vick. When he came into the league, he was the most exciting player because of his electric speed. Calling his acceleration a blur wouldn’t do it justice.
Although everyone in this group is fast, three headliners standout: Deion Sanders, Darrell Green and Bo Jackson. Notice the 4.13 next to Jackson’s name— no that is not a typo. Jackson reportedly ran 4.13 at the 1986 NFL Combine.
Do I even need to explain why Sanders is a favorite? Come on, it’s Primetime. His legendary speed is something of folklore. End of story.
Darrell Green was known as the fastest player in the NFL for the entirety of his 19-year career. The man ran a 4.43, 40 on his 50th birthday. Just imagine what he could do in his prime? That resume alone will get you consideration for the fastest man in NFL history. Green was a legendary chase-down tackler. No breakaway run was safe with Green on the football field.
NFL Final Four
It’s tough to narrow down who the favorite is in this group of speedy legends. Trying to justify any of these players getting left off the final four isn’t easy, but it has to be done.
For the modern side of the bracket, it’s hard to shy away from Goodwin and Hill. Those choices almost seem too easy, but you can’t count out players like Ginn and Ross.
The true favorites lie on the Legend side of the bracket. It’s extremely hard to count out Sanders and Jackson, but Green and Hayes come off as the odds on favorite to take home the fastest man trophy.
Now it’s your decision, who would you choose in a race to crown the NFL’s Fastest Man of all-time?