The Best NFL Combine 40 Times by Position Group

  • February 20, 2015
  • / By Tom
NFL Combine 40 Times

Photo By: John Seb Barber

The NFL Combine 40 times are always the most popular drill at the event. Draft prospects run for a timed 40 yard dash in front of scouts to demonstrate their speed.

You can find the best NFL Scouting Combine 40 times by each position group below. While you can't find the historic results from every combine, you can get the bests since 2006. ​These are referred to as recent bests rather than records. 

The 40 yard dash is usually the most-hyped event at the combine. Most prospects care more about this than any other drill. While the value of this is questionable, draft combine 40 times follow athletes around for their entire career as one marker of speed. There are many variables that go into running a good 40 time, including technique, training, and actual speed.

Prospects are given 2 attempts to run, with the faster time being recorded as the official time. All times below are the official, automatic time. You'll often hear ridiculous times being claimed, but these are usually the unofficial, hand times. These times can come from any random person in the stands and are highly inaccurate​. Often, they are often off by multiple tenths of a second. You should only pay attention to the official, automatic times. 


Athlete - Reggie McNeal

College - Texas A&M University

Time - 4.35 seconds

Year - 2006

Years in NFL - 2006

Career Starts - 0​

Running Backs

Athlete - Chris Johnson

College - East Carolina University

Time - 4.24 seconds

Year - 2008

Years in NFL - 2008 - present

Career Starts - 1103

Wide Receivers

Athlete - Marquise Goodwin

College - University of Texas

Time - 4.27 seconds

Year - 2013

Years in NFL - 2013 - present

Career Starts - 1

Tight Ends

Athlete - Vernon Davis

College - University of Maryland

Time - 4.38 seconds

Year - 2006

Years in NFL - 2006 - present

Career Starts - 134

Offensive Lineman

Athlete - Terron Armstead

College - University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Time - 4.71 seconds

Year - 2013

Years in NFL - 2013 - present

Career Starts - 20

Defensive Lineman

Athlete - Manny Lawson

College - North Carolina State University

Time - 4.43 seconds

Year - 2006

Years in NFL - 2006 - present

Career Starts - 100


Athlete - Jon Alston

College - Stanford University

Time - 4.40 seconds

Year - 2006

Years in NFL - 2006 - 2009

Career Starts - 8


Athlete - Demarcus Van Dyke

College - University of Miami

Time - 4.28 seconds

Year - 2011

Years in NFL - 2011 - 2013

Career Starts - 4


Athlete - Josh Barrett

College - Arizona State University

Time - 4.35 seconds

Year - 2008

Years in NFL - 2008-2011

Career Starts - 7

Special Teams

Athlete - Trindon Holliday

College - Louisiana State University

Time - 4.24 seconds

Year - 2011

Years in NFL - 2011 - 2014

Career Starts - 1


The results above are very interesting. Similar to the bench press, being a best performer certainly isn't a great predictor of success at the NFL level, but speed proves to be more useful in the pros, unlike the muscular endurance that is tested for some reason in the bench press.

Chris Johnson holds the recent best for all positions with a time of 4.24 seconds. Johnson, a running back from East Carolina University ran this at the 2008 scouting combine. He went on to be a first round pick by the Tennessee Titans in the NFL Draft, at 24th overall. Johnson has had a successful career, including 6 1,000 yard rushing seasons. 

While timed speed is valuable, it is clear that speed alone doesn't make a great NFL prospect. Other than Johnson, Vernon Davis, and Terron Armstead, there are few of the athletes above who have had long-term productive careers. ​

Davis has also had a successful career following his blazing 4.38 second 40 in 2006. His time was elite for any position, not to mention the fact that he did it at 250 pounds. 

It is definitely important to note that speed is simply more important for other positions. For instance, each year some of the fastest quarterbacks aren't even being scouted as quarterbacks, unless, like Marcus Marioto and Robert Griffin III,​ they also have excellent pocket passing potential. Often you will find prospects like Reggie McNeal, who many teams were looking at as more of a wide receiver prospect. 

​Speed is very important for running backs, wide receivers, and cornerbacks, even though many elite players had less than stellar times. For positions like offensive and defensive lineman, many teams prefer to look at the first 10 yard split of their 40. This is because long speed isn't important at those positions, but short area speed can be. 

The best NFL Combine 40 times are always fun to look out for before the draft each year. While it can be a fun way to look at prospects, the overall value of it when scouting players has a mixed history. ​

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