No matter how much the NFL evolves with differing schemes and strategies, one trait will always be at a premium: speed. Oakland Raiders punter Marquette King is one of the more colorful social media follows in sports today. Early on Tuesday, the athlete took to Twitter and posed the following question:
Which @NFL team y’all think would have the fastest 4 x 100 team???
— Marquette King (@MarquetteKing) June 27, 2017
That got us to thinking…which team would be the favorite in an old-fashioned foot race? Unfortunately, a lot of these players don’t have any official 100m times. For those situations, we used a mix of 40 times and the eye-test to project a bit. Here’s a list of squads that would be serious contenders.
Sorry, Marquette. The Raiders don’t make the cut. A few years ago, a team comprised of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa would be unbeatable.
We are forever thankful for Al Davis’ Madden team building skills.
San Francisco 49ers
Speedsters: WR Marquese Goodwin, WR Aldrick Robinson, WR DeAndre Carter, RB Matt Breida
Brieda and Carter may not see the field much this year, but both rookies can absolutely fly. Brieda ran a 4.38 at his Pro Day, and that was after undergoing surgery on his lower leg in 2015. Robinson has made a respectable living as a deep threat for both the Redskins and Falcons. He’ll presumably see more targets joining the 49ers this year — looking to add to his 18.6 yards-per-catch career average. Goodwin is the true burner of this group. A legit track star at the University of Texas, Goodwin is one of the fastest players in the league with a 10.24 100m time and a 4.27 40-yard dash. San Francisco won’t be winning much this year, but they have some burners.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speedsters: WR DeSean Jackson, CB Josh Robinson, WR Josh Huff, WR Chris Godwin
D-Jax has been an elite speedster since he’s joined the league — consistently blowing the top off of defenses with relative ease. His 17.7 yards-per-catch average is second among players that started their careers in this century. Robinson was one of the fastest players at the 2012 NFL Combine, clocking in a 4.33 40-yard dash. Huff and Godwin are a bit further down the depth chart, but both ran sub-4.45 at their combines as well.
Speedsters: WR John Ross, RB Giovani Bernard, RB Joe Mixon, WR Josh Malone
Ross nearly broke the internet a few months ago when he shattered Chris Johnson’s combine 40-yard dash record by running a 4.22 40-yard time. The trio alongside him is a half-step slower than the rest of these speedy groups, so Ross would have to run have to legitimize his title as the “Fastest Player in Football” if the Bengals want to have any chance at this.
Speedsters: WR Antonio Brown, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Martavis Bryant, WR Juju Smith-Schuster
Brown is a bit more on-the-field speed than he is track speed, but knowing the competitor that he is, there’s no way we can keep him off the squad. Heyward-Bey is infamous for being a draft bust following his blazing 4.30 performance at the 2009 NFL Combine. Now 30 years old, DHB still has some wheels. With the length of Bryant and Smith-Schuster, this team would almost be a better fit in a 4 x 400 relay.
New York Giants
Speedsters: WR Odell Beckham Jr., CB Eli Apple, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, WR Kevin Snead
Apple segued his 4.40-40 yard dash into being selected 10th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. DRC has been one of the fastest players in the league over the last decade (4.29), and we all know how quick OBJ can be. The name many may not recognize is Snead — who ran a (hand-timed) 4.22 40 at Tennessee’s pro day. It sure sounds like Ross has some competition.
Speedsters: WR Julio Jones, WR Taylor Gabriel, CB Robert Alford, HB Tevin Coleman
The Super Bowl this past season was an exhibition of tremendous speed. New England may have won the game, but the Falcons potentially possess the faster players. Gabriel put the league on notice with a nasty double move on cornerback Malcolm Butler, exhibiting his blazing 4.27 speed in the open field. No player had any chance of catching Alford or his 4.39 wheels when he returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter. Jones and Coleman both have long strides, and are devastating in a straight line. With this type of speed, don’t expect a Super Bowl hangover from the Falcons.
Speedsters: CB Patrick Peterson, WR J.J. Nelson, WR John Brown, HB David Johnson
Smoke (Brown, 4.34) and Fire (Nelson, 4.28) are possibly the fastest pair of receivers in the league. Peterson is an explosive, rangy athlete that can keep up with virtually any wide out in a foot race. It would be interesting to see a runner like Johnson take on a 100m sprint, as his breakaway speed on the gridiron is a sight to behold. This team is a dangerous contender.
Kansas City Chiefs
Speedsters: WR Tyreek Hill, HB De’Anthony Thomas, HB C.J. Spiller, WR Chris Conley
Now this would be a tough squad to match-up with. To put their speed in perspective – Thomas was a Human Highlight Reel at the University of Oregon, and ran the slowest combine time of the four. Conley and Spiller were both in the low 4.3’s – although, admittedly, Spiller has lost a step since his days in Buffalo. And then there’s Tyreek Hill. Hill set the league ablaze last season with his top-end speed, busting open big plays with regularity. He’s a mid-4.2 runner with a 100m time of 10.19. If this was a one person race, it’d be difficult to pick against a guy that’s referred to as “The Cheetah”.
WINNER: Kansas City Chiefs – Atlanta and Arizona would give them a good run for their money, but in the end, the Chiefs essentially have four track stars on their roster. Watching guys like Hill, Ross, Jackson, Gabriel and Nelson face-off on the anchor would certainly be worth the price of admission.