Midway through the 2020 season, here is a quick look at the fastest players in the NFL.
There are few moments more enjoyable in an NFL game than watching a bona fide speed merchant switch on the accelerator in the open field.
I'm talking about a receiver catching the ball in stride on a slant and bursting through coverage for the score; a running back beating the rush, side-stepping his way into the secondary and motoring 40 yards upfield; a defensive back slipping in ahead of a receiver for an interception and running it all the way home.
The fans go wild.
What is the one common denominator without which none of these plays would be possible? Speed.
Speed gets butts off seats, period. It's God-given talent, that's what it is, and football fans cannot get enough of it.
With that, let's take a look at the five fastest players in the NFL today.
Disclaimer: there are several ways one could go about analyzing an NFL player's speed. My methodology was to look solely at 'fastest recorded speed reached this season,' so if your favorite player who ran the 40-yard dash in 3.9 seconds at the scouting combine doesn't make an appearance, well, feel free to write your own list of the fastest players in the NFL, or state your opinion in the comments.
5. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)
Given the sheer size of the man, it may surprise some of you to learn that, at present, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is one of the fastest players in the NFL, ranked at No. 5 on the NextGen list of "fastest ball-carriers."
The man they call the "The Little Tractor" clocked a top speed of 21.62 miles per hour during his 94-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans in Week 6, on his way to 212 rushing yards in an overtime victory.
4. DK Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks)
If you've got your fix of Seahawks' news already this week, then you will know that DK Metcalf's speed has been in NFL headlines of late.
During the second quarter of the Week 7 matchup between Seattle and the Arizona Cardinals -- which I believe was the best game of the year so far -- Arizona safety Budda Baker picked off Seahawks QB Russell Wilson near the end zone and set off on a sprint to register a pick-six.
Unfortunately for the outstanding Baker, it wasn't to be...
Like some kind of mad, hungry, lioness in pursuit of a meal for her cubs, Metcalf chased Baker the length of the field and dragged him down five yards from glory.
NFL NextGen Stats clocked the sculpted Seattle receiver at 22.64 mph.
To put into perspective just how impressive this pursuit of Metcalf's actually was, Baker's dash toward the end zone also features in the NFL NextGen Stats list at 17th. Not many players in the NFL would (or even could) have kept Baker from scoring.
Interestingly, it's not because of this superb chasedown that the Seahawks' star receiver made the NextGen Stats list, since he did not have possession of the ball.
During overtime of the Seahawks-Cardinals game, Metcalf registered a top speed of 21.66 mph when he caught a pass from Wilson and ran in what would've been a 48-yard, game-winning touchdown. Unfortunately, the play was called back for a holding penalty, and the Seahawks eventually lost the game.