Top NFL Combine 40-yard dash times from 1999-2012: Does it translate to NFL success?

Fastest NFL Combine 40-Yard Dash Times since 1999

1999 4.24 Rondel Melendez (WR), Eastern Kentucky
2000 4.32 Antwan Harris (CB), Virginia
2001 4.31 Santana Moss (WR), Miami
2002 4.31 Aaron Lockett (WR), Kansas State
2003 4.32 Kevin Garrett (CB), Southern Methodist
2004 4.33 Carlos Francis (WR), Texas Tech
2005 4.27 Stanford Routt (CB), Houston
2006 4.30 T. Hill (CB), Clemson
2007 4.30 Yamon Figurs (WR), Kansas State. Another source has 4.35.
2008 4.24 Johnson, Chris (RB), East Carolina
2009 4.30 Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR), Maryland
2010 4.28 Jacoby Ford (WR), Clemson
2011 4.28 DeMarcus Van Dyke (CB), Miami
2012 4.36 Travis Benjamin; Stephen Hill; Chris Owusu (WR/KR), Miami; (WR), Georgia Tech; (WR), Stanford
best ever 4.24 Rondel Melendez and Chris Johnson This is the best result since 1999.

Note: Bo Jackson reportedly has a hand-timed 4.12 second 40 yard dash time performed in 1986. Also hand timed, Deion Sanders recorded a 4.19 sec in 1989 (hand timed), though another source has it that he was ‘officially’ recorded as 4.28 secs on this day.

The NFL has only been keeping combine records since 1999. Thus, the times of such legendary players as Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and others have all been left to urban legend.

That said, Rondel Melendez became something of an urban legend himself in that first year of record-keeping. To this day, the only player to even tie Melendez’ mark of 4.24 is current Tennessee Titans star running back Chris Johnson. Both Melendez (Eastern Kentucky) and Johnson (East Carolina) went to small schools.

Undoubtedly, their blazing times in the NFL Combine helped put them on the map. Melendez went from a guy no one had ever heard of to a seventh-round selection of the Atlanta Falcons, but he did virtually nothing once he got there. Johnson, on the other hand, has compiled a few unquestionably elite seasons for the Titans, compiling 6,804 yards in a mere five seasons — including 2,006 in the 2009 season alone.

Several young NFL hopefuls on this list are guys you have heard of and a handful more are guys you have not.

The NFL Combine is a place to continue to get a good gauge on players. Organizations are about to invest millions of dollars into these rookies, and obviously they want to know as much about them as they can.

However, these names and times have proven that the measurements are, at best, an inexact science.

But how inexact? How much should teams value these physical attributes over success on the playing field, and over the level of competition a player from Alabama faced over a guy who dominated Division III?

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