Who are the fastest players at every position?
It is no secret that some of the fastest people in the world reside within the NFL. From the wide receivers to the defensive backs, there have been some incredibly fast people that have come through the league. Today, it seems as though every NFL player is as fast as the next, but there is always at least one or two that stand out among the others.
In this bit, we will take a look at one player in the league from each position who has separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
Here we will put together a lineup of the fastest players in the league,
This is the NFL All-Speed Team…
Quarterback: Lamar Jackson-Baltimore Ravens
This was a close call between Jackson and Marcus Mariota. Mariota ran an official 4.48 40 yard dash at the 2015 NFL Combine and has proved himself to be one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the league.
Jackson did not run an official 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, which hurt his draft stock. However, he did run one at his pro day, and it did not disappoint.
With a 4.34 time, he takes the crown on the All-Speed team. While Jackson faces questions of whether his passing ability will transition to the pro level, there is no questioning his speed.
In 2016, Jackson became the youngest player ever to win the Heisman trophy (5 days younger than Jameis Winston), and his legs were a large part of that. With 1,571 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns on the ground, Jackson was essentially a running back for the Cardinals.
Not only is Jackson a threat on the ground, but he is nimble and can maneuver around the pocket to find the right window in the passing game as well.
Look for Jackson to use his speed as his biggest asset for the Ravens.
Runner Up: Marcus Mariota
Running Back: Tarik Cohen-Chicago Bears
Gadget players are usually pretty damn fast, and that is an understatement when describing Tarik Cohen.
Cohen for the Bears last season did not put up any monster stats, as the team’s lead back Jordan Howard handled the workload. However, Cohen was used as a hybrid player in 2017, on special teams and on offense. The Bears were creative with him in the backfield and spread him out wide on occasion as well.
When he had the ball in his hands, the rookie did some pretty incredible things, including this punt return for a touchdown:
With defenders in pursuit, Cohen was still able to reverse field and speed down the opposite side between even more defenders. 61 yards to the house.
Cohen in his rookie season even began to draw comparisons to the next guy on this list, as every time he scored a touchdown, he scored it in an electric fashion despite his smaller size (5’6″).
With a 4.42 yard dash and great return vision, Cohen is also eerily similar to another famous Bears return man…they just might have the next Devin Hester on their hands.
Runner Up: Lamar Miller
Wide Receiver #1: Tyreek Hill-Kansas City Chiefs
Widely considered the fastest player in the NFL, Tyreek Hill took the league by storm in his rookie season. After posting 976 total return yards, 860 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns in 2016, Hill made a name for himself amongst the best hybrid players in the NFL.
A year later, Hill did something that no one expected. As the number 1 wide receiver in Kansas City, Hill posted a 1,000 yard receiving season with 7 total touchdowns. These types of seasons are not expected of gadget players, however, Hill proved that he is more than just another gadget. He was reborn in 2017 as one of the top wide receivers in the game.
The reason for Hill’s success in his first two years can be credited to one thing: his speed. He is a threat to hit the end zone every time he touches the ball due to his running capability, ability to get separation and his incredible vision. It is difficult to make quick decisions when moving at such high speeds, but Hill seems to have no issue in that department.
Don’t blink…because if you do, Hill might pull one of these on you:
Runner Up: John Ross
Wide Receiver #2: Marquise Goodwin-San Francisco 49ers
We have our first track and field Olympian on the All-Speed team. In the London Olympics, Goodwin competed in the long jump, in which he finished in 10th place for the United States. However, at the University of Texas at Austin, Goodwin was a 4-time All-American and 2-time National Champion in the long jump.
Goodwin did not wow for the Longhorns on the football team, but he still produced. Racking up 1,364 career receiving yards, 405 career rushing yards and 10 career touchdowns, Goodwin was no top gun, but what made him so attractive to NFL teams is his ability to be used all over the field.
In his first 4 seasons in the league with the Bills, he had similar production as in his college career. He was mainly used as a return specialist and a decoy offensively in Buffalo, but this changed for the better when he signed with San Francisco.
With excellent hands and much improved route running, Goodwin broke out in 2017 as he put up 962 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. While he has not been much of a redzone threat, he has shown that he has big play ability, as indicated by his career 16.6 yards per reception receiver.
Jimmy Garoppolo has a new favorite target, and Marquise Goodwin just might bust out onto the scene in 2018.
Not to mention the guy ran a 4.27 40 yard dash…
Runner Up: Jakeem Grant
Tight End: Evan Engram-New York Giants
The top performer in the 40 yard dash amongst tight ends in the 2017 NFL Combine, Engram proved to be the fastest in his draft class. At Ole Miss, Engram was an elusive pass-catching tight end who had his best year as a senior.
The Giants made him their first round draft choice, and saw the Ole Miss product as their tight end of the future. The role given to their first round tight end was to take pressure off of Odell Beckham Jr. and open up the offense a bit. Engram’s breakaway ability as a ball-carrier after the catch is a huge asset to a quarterback like Manning, whose arm is dwindling by the game.
In 2017, Engram had the most productive season of any rookie tight end with 722 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. He has good hands and is developing as a blocker, but has to work on his route running and drops.
Evan Engram could potentially be the top breakout star of 2018. He performed well above expectations for the Giants in his rookie season, and his speed and quickness are a large reason for that success.
Runner Up: Vernon Davis
Offensive Tackle: Daryl Williams-Carolina Panthers
Speed and offensive linemen do not necessarily go hand in hand, but in this category, Williams takes the gold. Having to protect one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league in Cam Newton is no easy task. You have to have great footwork, athleticism and quickness to move around without drawing a hold.
Daryl Williams is powerful. At 6’6″ and 330 pounds, he is a wall blocking in the run game, and is more than serviceable in pass protection as well. It would not seem that someone his size and stature would be able to move the way he does, but Williams has proven over the course of his 3 year career that he is among some of the most mobile of offensive linemen.
While the Panthers offensive line underperformed in 2017, Williams was a diamond in the rough. When he keeps his footwork active, he is virtually unstoppable and immovable, especially in the run game.
Expect Williams to continue dominating for the Panthers, as his quick feet are his best asset.
Runner Up: David Bakhtiari
Offensive Guard: Ronald Leary-Denver Broncos
Ronald Leary was once apart of the most feared offensive line in the game. One of the most consistent guards in the league, Leary left the Cowboys offensive line and Dallas felt it immediately as the 5-man unit regressed in 2017.
In stride, there may not be a better offensive guard in the league (other than Marshal Yanda). With quick hands and quick feet, Leary can pick up a rush on the move, and is nearly impossible to move in pass protection.
The only thing knocking on Ronald Leary is his injury history. When healthy he is among the NFL’s best left guards, however, the injury bug always catches up to everyone.
Leary graded as the Broncos top offensive linemen in 2017, and will likely continue to be that in Denver in the future. His lateral quickness and strong base are the core attributes in Leary’s game, and he will use that to provide consistent play for the Broncos.
Runner Up: Kelechi Osemele
Center: Alex Mack-Atlanta Falcons
Of all the top centers in the league today, Mack is the most explosive of them all. His judgement in a split-second moment allow him to time the shifting of his body weight in an instant. Give Mack space, and there are no defenders that could push through his powerful frame.
The Falcons gave Mack a 5 year, $45 million contract back in 2016, as they should have. He has proved time and time again to be one of the most dominant linemen in the game. While he is getting older (32 years old), he shows no signs of slowing down. However, father time may start taking his toll on Mack as his career continues to progress.
For now though, Mack has shown endurance and the ability to adapt to whatever scheme is put in front of him. Blocking for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, one of the most elusive backfield duos in the league, Mack has his work cut out for him, but he continues to produce in one of the top offenses in the NFL.
Runner Up: Rodney Hudson
Defensive Tackle: Aaron Donald-Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald is a freak of nature, as there are no weaknesses in Donald’s game as far as defensive tackles go.
With an athletic build and a stocky frame, lightning fast change of direction and violent quickness on the snap, Donald is a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. To say that he is a disruption is an understatement. According to PFF, in 2017 Aaron Donald had 66 quarterback hurries, 13 quarterback hits and 12 sacks for a total of 91 pressures. These are video game-like numbers, and Aaron Donald is only just beginning.
Donald has the ability to power rush, finesse around linemen or create leverage with his hands and footwork to blow by blockers. There are no shortage of assets that Donald has in his game.
Amongst interior defensive linemen, Donald was clearly the most dominant. But Donald makes a case to be the best defensive player in the league every year. He consistently gets pressure on the quarterback and forces errant throws and miscues from the opposing offense.
Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL, and could arguably the best player in the entire game.
Runner Up: DeForest Buckner
Defensive End: Demarcus Lawrence-Dallas Cowboys
One of the biggest stories on the defensive side of the ball in 2017, Lawrence had to show out in a contract year, and he did exactly that.
Demarcus Lawrence was an extremely raw pass-rusher coming out of Boise State in 2014. With athletic ability but limited technique, Lawrence spent his rookie season learning the playbook. It did not take him long to get onto the field, though, as he started 13 games in his sophomore season and recorded a team high 8 sacks. However, Lawrence experienced a bump in the road in 2016, as he was suspended 4 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and appeared in only 9 games the rest of the season. Then 2017 came along…
Going into his contract year, Lawrence burst onto the scene and exploded in 2017 for 14.5 sacks, once again leading his team in that category. In his 4th year as a pro, Lawrence exhibited elite agility, and has also shown the ability to change direction quickly when rushing.
In 2018, Lawrence will play on the franchise tag, but if he continues to play at such an elite level, he will become one of the highest paid defenders in the game.
Runner Up: Vic Beasley
Outside Linebacker: Von Miller-Denver Broncos
Speed is the name of the game with Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller. While Miller’s speed is for sure his top asset, he is also one of the most all-around defenders in the game. Watching Von Miller play is like watching a ballet recital, as Miller literally has the ability to dance around a blocker and obliterate a quarterback. With his plethora of speed moves and finesse moves, Miller can make a fool out of any offensive tackle. Put whoever you want out there, Von Miller will beat him.
Not only is Miller a dominant performer, but he is a clutch performer as well. In Super Bowl 50 against the Panthers, Miller recorded an astonishing 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pass defended against regular season MVP Cam Newton. This feat made him the first player in NFL history to win both a Super Bowl MVP and a Pro Bowl MVP.
At 6’3″, 250 pounds, Miller also ran a 4.49 40 yard dash, an impressive number for a guy Miller’s size.
Considered by many around the league to be the best outside pass-rusher in the NFL, Von Miller uses his speed as his best weapon for success.
Runner Up: Bud Dupree
Inside Linebacker: CJ Mosley-Baltimore Ravens
Wherever the ball goes, that’s where you can usually find Mosley as well. A natural playmaker, CJ Mosley hits the gas and gets to the tackle faster than you can blink an eye, and he does it over and over again.
With 8 career interceptions, Mosley makes his living finding the ball and attacking it no matter where he is on the field.
CJ Mosley has the situational awareness an inside linebacker needs to anchor the defense. An all-around player, Mosley is great at reading the quarterbacks eyes in passing situations and plugging the gap in a run situation. When you need to get a defensive stop, Mosley is your guy.
His ability to cover ground so quickly is part of the reason for the Ravens’ turnaround in production from near the bottom of the league in run defense in 2016 to the top half in 2017.
Covering the right spaces and hitting the right gaps are what have given Mosley the key to unlock his game and the level of play around him. In 2018, the Ravens may be talked about as one of the better defenses in the league once again.
Runner Up: Deion Jones
Cornerback #1: William Jackson III-Cincinatti Bengals
His first year with playing time this past season for the Bengals, Jackson held his own for one of the worst teams in the league. Jackson was selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, and his speed had quite a bit to do with that selection.
At the 2016 NFL Combine, Jackson ran a 4.32 40 yard dash time, the second fastest time out of all cornerbacks. Considering Jackson was also a top prospect with physicality and coverage skills, this number made his draft stock rise. The Bengals selected him and expected him to play right away, however, they would have to wait as he sustained a season ending injury prior to the season.
Fast forward to 2017, where Jackson proved he was worthy of the Bengals’ selection. He did not put up gaudy numbers, however, he was very productive on the outside. Behind AJ Bouye of Jacksonville, Jackson fielded the second lowest passer rating allowed in coverage at 36.1, according to PFF. This is very impressive for a rookie, and it makes you wonder if maybe Jackson could establish himself among the great corners in the league.
William Jackson III has great awareness and can mirror any receiver an offense throws at him. In the Bengals’ matchups against the Steelers, Jackson was targeted 7 times when covering Antonio Brown and didn’t allow a single catch.
This kid is the real deal, and his speed is a big part of his game.
Runner Up: Patrick Peterson
Cornerback #2: Ronald Darby-Philadelphia Eagles
A second round pick by the Bills in 2015, Darby had extremely high expectations as one of the top cornerbacks in the class. At the combine, Darby had shown his athleticism, posting top results in the 40 yard dash (4.38 seconds), vertical jump (41.5″) and the broad jump (10’9″).
At Florida State, Darby enjoyed the success that the team had, winning a National Championship in 2013 and reaching the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs in 2014. However, the reason Darby was not an earlier selection in the draft was because of his lack of production around the ball.
With only 2 career interceptions and 16 career pass break-ups, Darby was not one to get his hands on the ball. NFL teams thrive on turnovers, and like to have corners who can snatch the ball out of the air at any given moment.
But Darby has not disappointed in his first 3 seasons as a pro. His rookie season with the Bills, he managed to be a top cover man and had two interceptions. He had a quiet 2016 season, but in 2017 he was traded to the Eagles, where he has been able to thrive with his style of play.
Darby uses his speed to mirror some of the toughest wide receivers in the game. While he has proved to be a very physical corner, he has kept his penalties at a low number (1 pass interference in 2017). Ronald Darby will continue to thrive in the Eagles’ system with his speed and aggressiveness.
Runner Up: Trae Waynes
Free Safety: Montae Nicholson-Washington Redskins
Yet another young player, Nicholson defied all odds and established himself in the Redskins secondary. Arguably one of the biggest steals of the 2017 Draft, the ‘Skins got a quick hitter with high end speed and an elite motor.
Nicholson showed this speed at the Combine, where he ran an official 4.42 40 yard dash. While this number may not seem like a great time, a sub 4.4 40 time for a safety is tremendous given their typical bigger frames for defensive backs (Nicholson 6’2″ 216 pounds).
A fourth round draft selection, Nicholson was not expected to see the field much in 2017. However, he crushed that narrative in training camp and became an immediate contributor for the defense, exceeding expectations all year. Nicholson is very shifty in coverage and can cut off routes with his quick adjustments, but a lot of the time he can overcommit to a tackle, leading to a blown coverage.
Young players in the league always want to make the big hit or the game changing play, which is what causes a lot of mistakes from those players. While Nicholson had a fantastic 2017 season and will likely repeat that in 2018, he was susceptible to these mistakes. If he can clean those up and continue to hone his craft, he has a chance to be great for the Redskins.
Nicholson suffered a concussion late in December of last season, however he will come back and continue to be one of the fastest guys on the field.
Runner Up: Earl Thomas
Strong Safety: Jamal Adams-New York Jets
This guy has similar quickness and burst to that of Devin McCourty in New England.
After choking in the 40 yard dash at the Combine in 2017, Jamal Adams posted a mere 4.56 which ranked 10th among the safeties that ran it. However, he bounced back from that flop at the Combine with a blazing 4.33 second time.
One of the best defensive players to come out of the 2017 NFL Draft, Adams made a case for himself as the best player on the Jets defense this past season. A pounding run stopper, Adams is a menace against a rushing attack. Shooting the gaps with aggression, and being the first to the tackle is where Adams makes his money.
However, with Adams being so young at only 22 years of age, there have been a few hiccups in his game. Number one is finishing tackles, as he has a tendency to not wrap-up when change of direction is required. And number two is his coverage skills, as he still has improvement to make in man coverage, especially mirroring larger tight ends.
Runner Up: Landon Collins
Kicker: Marshall Koehn: New York Giants
The placekicker from the University of Iowa tested at the NFL Combine as though he was a wide receiver.
Marshall Koehn posted the fastest 40 yard dash time of any kicker in NFL history at 4.61 seconds. While speed really doesn’t matter for a kicker in the game of football, it is still an extremely impressive number. Koehn is as athletic as they come, and he’s also willing to get down and dirty when you need him to.
Coming out of the University of Iowa, not a lot of people had heard about Koehn before. But for the Hawkeyes, he proved to be a clutch performer when the team needed him to be. A career 12/15 from beyond 40 yards out, Koehn proved to be reliable from deep.
Koehn came into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins and has been bouncing around every year since. After stints with the Dolphins, Bengals and Vikings, Koehn now has a legitimate shot at making the Giants’ roster. His only competition is Aldrick Rosas, who had a poor 2017 season with the team.
Maybe the Giants should just work Koehn out as a wide receiver.
Runner Up: Jake Elliot
Punter: Marquette King-Denver Broncos
I think this one was pretty much a given.
Marquette King was once one of the most exciting players in the NFL, as his dance moves and swagger on the football field drew a lot of national attention. However, the Raiders grew tired with King’s antics and decided to release him.
King remains in the AFC West as a member of the Denver Broncos, and the most entertaining punter in the league lives on.
There is only one thing that you need to see that justifies King being on this list:
4th and 24…converted.
Runner Up: Chris Jones