The NFL Scouting Combine has come a long way from when it first started in 1982. Gone are the days when college football players would show up and run drills for the first time while coaches with stopwatches would time them in relative obscurity. Today, athletes practice drills like bench press, 40-yard dash and vertical jump hundreds of times before arriving and having their performances timed electronically in front of a national television audience.
After canceling the event last year due to the pandemic, the NFL Scouting Combine is back at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with this year's showcase set for March 1-7. With the "Underwear Olympics" set to resume, we decided to look back at some of the records set in individual categories. Here's the ever-popular 40-yard dash record, plus the next fastest times, dating back to 1999 (the first year for electronic timers).
NFL Scouting Combine 40-Yard Dash Record/Fastest Times
- 4.22 seconds: John Ross III, WR (2017)
Before we get to Ross, it's worth mentioning a few other players who recorded fast times in this category. Bo Jackson recorded a time of 4.12 seconds in the 1986 Combine, but that was during the hand-time era. And, of course, Chris Johnson shocked scouts with a record time of 4.24 in 2008.
But in 2017, Ross was timed at 4.22 with a run so intense that he strained his calves at the end. The injury forced the former Washington wide receiver to miss some of the other drills, but he still was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals with the ninth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The 2022 Combine was all about speed as positional group records fell left and right.
It started on Thursday when eight wide receivers clocked 4.4 seconds or faster. This group was led by Baylor's Tyquan Thornton. Initially timed at 4.21 seconds, which would have beaten Ross' all-time record, Thornton's official time was 4.28, tying him for the sixth-fastest ever.
But it didn't stop there. On Sunday, Thornton's teammate Kalon Barnes, a cornerback, recorded an official time of 4.23, just 0.01 seconds off of the record. UTSA corner Tariq Woolen wasn't too far behind at 4.26, tying him for the fourth-fastest 40 in Combine history.
- 4.23 seconds: Kalon Barnes, CB (2022)
- 4.24 seconds: Chris Johnson, RB (2008)
- 4.24 seconds: Rondel Menedez, WR (1999)
- 4.26 seconds: Dri Archer, RB (2014)
- 4.26 seconds: Tariq Woolen, CB (2022)
- 4.26 seconds: Jerome Mathis, WR (2005)
- 4.27 seconds: Marquise Goodwin, WR (2013)
- 4.27 seconds: Stanford Routt, CB (2005)
- 4.27 seconds: Henry Ruggs III, WR (2020)
- 4.28 seconds: Champ Bailey, CB (1999)
- 4.28 seconds: Jacoby Ford, WR (2010)
- 4.28 seconds: Jalen Myrick, CB (2017)
- 4.28 seconds: J.J. Nelson, WR (2015)
- 4.28 seconds: Tyquan Thornton, WR (2022)
- 4.28 seconds: Demarcus Van Dyke, DB (2011)
- 4.29 seconds: Fabian Washington, CB (2005)
- 4.30 seconds: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (2009)
- 4.30 seconds: Yamon Figurs, WR (2007)
- 4.30 seconds: Tye Hill, CB (2006)
- 4.30 seconds: Darrent Williams CB (2005)
And speaking of 40-yard dash times, Olympian Usain Bolt tied Ross' record during a fun exhibition at the 2019 Super Bowl Experience in Atlanta. (See video)