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Top 5 fastest players in the NFL, ranked

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers
Ross Bennellick

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)

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals

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.

3. Michael Davis (Los Angeles Chargers)

Chargers cornerback Michael Davis couldn't have dreamt this one up any better.

During L.A.'s Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Davis picked off the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, and brought it back all the way home for a 78-yard touchdown. He clocked a top speed of 21.68 mph en route to the end zone.

Nobody was going to catch the former BYU star once he clicked into full gear. What a burst of pace, and what a touchdown it was.


2. Kenyan Drake (Arizona Cardinals)

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During the build-up to the Week 6 "Monday Night Football" contest between the Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys, pundits and fans alike were beginning to question Kenyan Drake's offensive output. Many felt the running back was great at getting over the line for 'easy' scores from close-in, but that his yards-per-game stats were too low, and that he perhaps wasn't the long-term solution for the Cardinals at running back.

The former Miami Dolphins star responded with a barnstorming game against Dallas that included 164 yards on the ground and a 69-yard touchdown during which he clocked a high-speed of 22.11 mph.

I'll let the footage speak for itself.


1.Raheem Mostert (San Francisco 49ers)

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Fantasy football managers know that if you had Raheem Mostert on your team during the early goings of the 2020 season, you were probably doing pretty well. His injury-ridden campaign since then has been another story.

When healthy, though, the 49ers running back is electric. He appears twice on the NFL NextGen Stats list for fastest ball-carriers, holding the No. 1 and No. 2 spots heading into Week 8.

Against the Cardinals in Week 1, Mostert clocked a top speed of 22.73 mph on a 76-yard touchdown catch.

Against the New York Jets in Week 2, Mostert reached 23.09 mph on an 80-yard scoring run.

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So far, Mostert is the only player to break the 23-mph barrier this season.

What a rush!

Edited by Amaar Burton

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