The NFL Combine was first televised in 2004, and since then, it has become a popular phenomenon that draws in plenty of fans. The prospects go through a host of drills and exercises, but none are more revered than the 40-yard dash.
We’ll take a look at the 10 fastest official 40-yard dashes — who ran them, where they were drafted and how their careers panned out. (Note: We chose to use official data from the NFL’s website dating back through the 2006 combine).
Chris Johnson, running back (4.24)
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The fastest 40-yard dash since 2006 belongs to a running back. Johnson entered the 2008 NFL Combine as a projected second- or third-round pick, but his record-breaking 40-time was an eye-opener. The Tennessee Titans made him the No. 24 overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Johnson earned the nickname "CJ2K" during his second season in the NFL in 2009 when he rushed for 2,006 yards.
After six seasons with the Titans, and one with the Jets, Johnson joined the Cardinals in 2015. He emerged as the starter, but a fractured tibia in Week 12 ended his season. Johnson heads into the 2016 offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Dri Archer, running back (4.26)
At 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds, having played his college football at Kent State, it was going to take an excellent combine to get Archer into early-round consideration. Archer ran a 4.26 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL Combine and answered questions about his size with 20 bench press reps. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley envisioned an offensive weapon who could play a key role in his unique scheme.
After just one season and a half with the Steelers, he was deemed a failed experiment and waived on Nov. 5, 2015. The Jets signed him to a reserve/future contract in early February.
Dri Archer was drafted to be a dynamic offensive weapon in space, but he never panned out with the Steelers.
Marquise Goodwin, wide receiver (4.27)
Like Archer, Goodwin was another undersized track star who made waves with his 40-yard dash. The 5-foot-9, 192-pound receiver ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Combine. The Buffalo Bills saw enough to make him the No. 78 overall pick in the third round of the draft.
After catching his first touchdown in Week 6 of his rookie season, Goodwin has failed to make an impact as a wide receiver since. He has played just 123 offensive snaps for the Bills during the past two seasons.
Jacoby Ford, wide receiver (4.28)
Ford graduated Clemson as a track star, return man and undersized wide receiver — sound familiar? In his final season at Clemson, Ford racked up 1,218 rushing, receiving and return yards and nine total touchdowns. After clocking a 4.28 40-yard dash, many expected Ford to move up draft boards, but he dropped into the fourth round where the Raiders selected him at No. 108 overall.
Ford failed to make an impact as anything more than a return man, and after three years with the Raiders, he failed to stick with both the Jets and Titans. He is currently a member of the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos.
J.J. Nelson, wide receiver (4.28)
At 5-foot-10 and 156 pounds, Nelson needed a fast 40 time to get on draft radars. The UAB receiver and return man ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Combine, and the Arizona Cardinals selected him at No. 159 overall in the fifth round.
Nelson proved to be an excellent fit for Bruce Arians’ vertically-based offensive scheme, and despite being drafted into a deep depth chart at wide receiver, he made an instant impact in 2015. He finished with 14 receptions for 332 yards and two touchdowns (through the postseason). When the Cardinals were dealing with injuries in Week 5, Nelson racked up 142 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
The Cardinals may have found another late-round gem in wide receiver J.J. Nelson.
Demarcus Van Dyke, cornerback (4.28)
Van Dyke was a top prospect out of high school, but he never developed in college at Miami. No matter for the Raiders — after Van Dyke ran an official 4.28 40-yard dash, the Raiders made him the No. 81 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Van Dyke was a total bust — the Raiders released him in September of his second season in the NFL. He resurfaced briefly with the Steelers and a couple different practice squads, but he couldn’t stick on any roster.
Yamon Figurs, wide receiver (4.30)
Figurs was a dynamic return specialist at Kansas State, and his straight-line speed earned him a big boost in the 2007 NFL Draft when the Ravens selected him at No. 74 overall in the third round.
After getting off to hot start during his rookie season — with a punt and kick return touchdown — Figurs lost his return duties to Jim Leonard in 2008. In 2009, the Ravens released him and he bounced around the NFL before moving on to the CFL in 2012.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver (4.30)
Despite never topping 786 receiving yards or five touchdowns in any single season at Maryland, Heyward-Bey was selected at No. 7 overall in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. How did he do it? When Raiders owner Al Davis was introduced to a 6-foot-2 wide receiver who ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL Combine, he had to have him. In the process, the Raiders skipped over Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
Heyward-Bey lasted just four seasons with the Raiders, and he failed to top 1,000 receiving yards in any season. After a one-year stint with the Colts, he has served as a reserve receiver for the Steelers over the past two seasons.
Heyward-Bey never emerged as a premier NFL wide receiver with the Raiders, but he has settled in to a reserve role with the Steelers.
Tye Hill, cornerback (4.30)
Hill was a finalist for the Thorpe Award in his final season at Clemson in 2005, and after a dominant 40-yard dash, he was a hot prospect heading into the 2006 NFL Draft. The Rams selected Hill with the No. 15 overall pick in the first round.
After earning 2006 All-Rookie honors from the PFWA, he struggled to stay on the field over the next two seasons. The Rams traded him to the Falcons for a seventh-round pick in 2009, and he lasted just one season.
Jonathan Joseph, cornerback (4.31)
Four players have clocked an official 4.31 40-yard dash since 2006, but we chose Joseph because he has been the most successful NFL player. Joseph’s 40 time helped propel him into the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft where the Bengals selected him at No. 24 overall.
Joseph leveraged his five successful seasons with the Bengals when he hit free agency in 2011 and signed a five-year, $48.75 million contract with the Texans. He remains a starter heading into his tenth season, and he has racked up two Pro Bowls to go along with his 26 career interceptions.