NFL Draft Top 40-Yard Dash Times – Defense

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Micah Parsons #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions warms up before the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Beaver Stadium on November 30, 2019 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

NFL scouts and football fans love speed. Human beings who combine elite speed with size and power are quite a spectacle.

The 40-yard dash is one of those top events at the NFL Scouting Combine, and it can have a big influence on a player’s NFL Draft odds of being picked up early. While this year’s combine was just a shell of its usual self, the NFL still managed to get times from regional events held in place of the big one hosted annually in Indianapolis. 

The NFL Combine had to audible this year thanks to COVID-19. Player interviews with NFL franchises happened remotely and limited events and measurements were taken. Medical tests were also arranged remotely.

Spring evaluations ended up being done in much smaller on-campus settings. Around the country, more than 100 were held and the results were reported by NFL scouts. Using pro day data compiled by DraftScout.com, we were able to cull together top performances from those events.

The 40-yard dash is timed to evaluate speed and acceleration. The distance has long been used to show what an athlete can do on a punt or kick return, or a deep pass — or to show the potential for breakaway speed on a big play. We break it all down by defensive position.

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The Top 40 Times – Position

Cornerbacks

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.28 — Jalen Myrick, Minnesota (2017) & Demarcus Van Dyke, Miami, Fla. (2011)

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR: 

4.32 — Kary Vincent, LSU

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.31 — Eric Stokes, Georgia (+3500 to be first CB taken)

4.35 — Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky (+5000 to be first CB taken)

4.35 — Marco Wilson, Florida

4.36 — Brandin Echols, Kentucky

4.38 — Isaiah Dunn, Oregon St.

4.39 — Greg Newsome, Northwestern (+2500 to be first CB taken)

4.39 — Aaron Robinson, Central Florida

4.39 — Kary Vincent, LSU (+15000 to be first CB taken)

4.39 — Chris Wilcox, BYU


Defensive Ends

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.48 — Dwight Freeney, Syracuse (2012)

TOP DL COMBINE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR: 

4.59 — Kwity Paye, Michigan

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.37 — Jayson Oweh, Penn State (+1800 to be first DL taken)

4.53 — Shaka Toney, Penn State

4.57 — Kwity Paye, Michigan (-225 to be first DL taken)

4.58 — Jaelan Phillips, Miami, Fla. (+225 to be first DL taken)

4.59 — Andre Mintze, Vanderbilt

4.62 — Carlos Basham, Wake Forest (+10000 to be first DL taken)

4.68 — Greg Rousseau, Miami, Fla. (+900 to be first DL taken)

4.68 — Joe Tryon, Washington

4.68 — Joshua Kaindoh, Florida St.

4.69 — Janarius Robinson, Florida St.


Defensive Tackles

TOP COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.68 — Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (2014)

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.67 — Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech

4.87 — Marquiss Spencer, Mississippi St.

4.88 — Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (+4000 to be first DL taken)

4.88 — Jonathan Marshall, Arkansas

4.89 — TaQuon Graham, Texas

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: Kendric Pryor #3 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the ball against Jevon Holland #8 of the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter in the Rose Bowl game presented by Northwestern Mutual at Rose Bowl on January 01, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Free Safeties

TOP SAFETY COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.29 — Zedrick Woods, Ole Miss (2019)

TOP SS/FS COMBINE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR: 

4.37 — Andre Cisco, Syracuse

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.36 — Michael Carter, Duke

4.41 — Caden Sterns, Texas (+4000 to be first safety drafted)

4.42 — James Wiggins, Cincinnati (+10000 to be first safety drafted)

4.44 — Zayne Anderson, BYU

4.46 — Lamont Wade, Penn State

4.47 — Jevon Holland, Oregon (+350 to be first safety drafted)


Inside Linebackers

TOP LB COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.38 — Shaquem Griffin, UCF

TOP LB COMBINE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR: 

4.45 — Micah Parsons, Penn State

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.48 — Jamin Davis, Kentucky (+1100 to be first LB taken)

4.56 — Baron Browning, Ohio State (+6600 to be first LB taken)

4.58 — Monty Rice, Georgia (+25000 to be first LB taken)

4.58 — Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M

4.58 — Derrick Barnes, Purdue

4.59 — Chazz Surratt, North Carolina (+20000 to be first LB taken)


Outside Linebackers

TOP LB COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.38 — Shaquem Griffin, UCF

TOP LB COMBINE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR: 

4.45 — Micah Parsons, Penn State

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.36 — Micah Parsons, Penn State (-450 to be first LB taken)

4.51 — Nick Niemann, Iowa

4.58 — Christian Elliss, Idaho

4.58 — Mile Eifler, Illinois

4.60 — Aaron Donkor, Arkansas St.


Strong Safeties

TOP SAFETY COMBINE PERFORMANCE SINCE 1999

4.29 — Zedrick Woods, Ole Miss (2019)

THIS SPRING – PRO DAYS

4.41 — Tyler Coyle, Purdue

4.43 — Darrick Forrest, Cincinnati

4.43 — Tyree Gillespie, Missouri

4.45 — Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech

4.54 — Marcus Murphy, Mississippi State

4.55 — Brady Breeze, Oregon

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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has covered the national recruiting scene in football and basketball for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All-America selections, and handled FCS college football for HERO Sports. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.

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