Analysis

2022 NFL Scouting Combine: Seven candidates to run fastest 40-yard dash

Among the workouts conducted at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, one of the most eye-catching is the 40-yard dash, with prospects vying to show they have the speed to succeed in the pros. Since 2003, 14 participants have clocked official 40 times below the 4.3-second mark. Who's got the best chance to join that club this year? Which prospects are positioned to claim the title of fastest at the combine?

Below, Daniel Jeremiah lists seven candidates to post the best 40 times in 2022. Be sure to check out these workouts and the rest of NFL Network's combine coverage from Thursday, March 3 through Sunday, March 6.

Rank
1
Danny Gray
SMU · WR

Date of combine workout: 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 3


Gray is my top candidate to run the fastest 40-yard dash this week. With speed that is easy to spot on tape, he has an explosive first gear and the ability to pull away from defenders. Gray's track background is solid -- he took home the Texas Class 3A state title in the 100-meter dash in 2017. He also posted the fastest speed of any offensive player at the 2022 Senior Bowl, hitting 22.01 miles per hour. He's been tracking to run in the 4.2s during his combine training preparation. 

Rank
2
Kalon Barnes
Baylor · CB

Date of combine workout: 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 6


Barnes is the favorite of several personnel guys when asked who will run the fastest 40 in Indy. The holder of the Texas state high-school record in the 100-meter dash (10.22 seconds) also ran track at Baylor, winning the 100 at the 2019 USC Trojan Invitational with a time of 10.43. His speed shows up on tape when he's in pursuit, and he closes in a hurry. He's expected to run in the high 4.2s to low 4.3s.

Rank
3
Tariq Woolen
Texas-San Antonio · CB

Date of combine workout: 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 6


Woolen is an enormous cornerback (checking in at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds) with big-time athleticism. The Athletic's Bruce Feldman featured him on his freak's list last summer, where he mentioned that Woolen had been timed at 4.34 in the 40. Woolen went to the Senior Bowl and posted the fastest speed ever recorded at the event (22.45 mph). He is another candidate to go under 4.3 on Sunday afternoon. 

Rank
4
Zyon McCollum
Sam Houston State · CB

Date of combine workout: 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 6


McCollum has been training with Gray, and he's right there with him in the speed department -- at the Senior Bowl, McCollum registered 21.06 mph on the GPS. He is a highly productive player (13 career interceptions), and his workout should only help boost his draft stock.

Rank
5
Jahan Dotson
Penn State · WR

Date of combine workout: 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 3


Dotson is a smooth, explosive wideout who effortlessly eats up ground as a runner, and his combination of speed, route running and reliable hands will likely result in a first-round selection. He has been routinely timed in the mid-to-low 4.3s during training, and I would expect him to post a time in that range Thursday night. 

Rank
6
Calvin Austin III
Memphis · WR

Date of combine workout: 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 3


The small (5-7, 173 pounds), dynamic Austin possesses outstanding quickness and top speed. And as a member of the Memphis track team, he competed in the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays and 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. So much of a player's success in the 40 involves the start, and Austin's track background should help him explode out of his stance. He posted a top speed of 20.63 mph at the Senior Bowl.

Rank
7
Kyler Gordon
Washington · CB

Date of combine workout: 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 6


Gordon is one of my favorite players in the draft class, an instinctive cornerback with outstanding size (6-foot, 200) and speed. Bruce Feldman reported that Gordon jumped 42.5 inches at Washington, and that indicates a special 40-time should be expected. His football speed is impressive, and I won't be surprised if he produces a low 4.3 40 time.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter.

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