The 15 Fastest Football Players of All Time

John ParkerCorrespondent INovember 18, 2008

Football has evolved through the years. Players are now stronger and bigger than ever before, but the huge difference from yesterday's game to today's game is speed.

Some players have just stood out for their amazing speed, but pure speed isn't the only thing that this list measures.

It's what you did with it that counts. No use putting any college draft busts on this list if they couldn't put their speed to good use. 

Many players on this list are more modern because the NFL has gotten faster, but that doesn't mean that I haven't looked at the Hall of Famers who burned the competition with their impressive speed at the time. I even have a white guy on this list...

15. Don Hutson

The only white guy to make this list. If you watch a highlight real of the guy, all of the plays are deep with his arms stretched running past that unlucky cornerback. Don Hutson is a player for any age and all ages and is the only football player that I would even mention in the same sentence as the legendary...

14. Jerry Rice

The only player on this list to have a mediocre 40 time. For some reason when he had on those shoulder pads he was blazing fast. Regardless of what his 40 time says, if you watch film of him, he is running past people.

13. Eric Dickerson

Dickerson's signature play was one where he was running into open space with two defensive backs chasing right after him but unable to catch up. Dickerson's great ability helped him set records which have stood the test of time, most notably his mark for most rushing yards in a single season.

12. Herschel Walker

Like Dickerson, he was an amazing athletic specimen. Many will recall the great strength he possessed for someone his size, but his speed was just as impressive. His athleticism translated into great success in the NFL, yet for some reason I always expected more of him than he gave.

11. Ron Brown

A St. Louis Rams wide receiver with great hands and even better speed. Brown was an Olympic gold medal winner. Unfortunately, that did not always translate to great success in the NFL which is the only reason he isn't higher on this list.

10. Champ Bailey

The first of four current players on this list. If you are a shutdown corner, you have to have great speed and that's what Bailey has. Bailey has had a stunning career so far with the Redskins and Broncos.

9. Bo Jackson

There are many what-ifs in Jackson's Career. If they had all been answered, who knows how good he might have been. The fastest running back on my list still had his fair share of success with the Raiders, but that doesn't answer the what-ifs.

8. Cliff Branch

If this list shows anything, it's that speed kills. Many football players with the No. 21 were super fast, like LT. However, out of all of the great running backs to carry that number, Branch, a wide receiver, could outrun them all. Unfortunately, as many great plays he made with his speed in big games, it didn't always translate into wins just like...

7. Randy Moss

Even in his 30's Moss was still the deep option in 2007 for Tom Brady despite a blazing Donte' Stallworth. You really should have seen him as a Viking. Those were arguably the best and unarguably the fastest years of his career.

6. Joey Galloway

Even today, as he gets older, it doesn't seem he is getting that much slower. Even as his 37th birthday approaches, he can still run past defenses with his great speed and most people would put him higher. He would be in my top five if it wasn't for...

5. Devin Hester

Despite a historical kick return on the first play of Super Bowl 41, the Bears couldn't pull off a victory against Peyton Manning and the Colts on the NFL's biggest stage, but let's not take anything away from Hester. In my mind, he is without question the greatest and fastest punt/kick returner of all time. However, his scouting report says differently and so does his 40 time. It's yet more proof that all the answers aren't on paper.

4. Willie Gault

The first of two players on this list of have a championship ring and Olympic Gold. Gault was blazing for his time. He was also featured in the 1985 Bears Super Bowl Shuffle and was a key part of that overlooked offense.

3. Darrell Green

This Washington Redskin was the ultimate team player and always did his responsibilities before trying to show off. His many interceptions are impressive and so was his speed, but what amazes me is his off-the-field contributions to the world unlike most current players who are getting in trouble (Pacman Jones).

2. Deion "Primetime" Sanders

The most versatile football player of the modern era, he was also the fastest. Primetime wasn't his only nickname, but it was the most fitting. He had big play potential any time he had the ball. Whether it was on special teams, returning interceptions, or catching passes, he used his speed to catch the football and take it all the way to the end zone.

1. "Bullet" Bob Hayes

"Pure" Speed. Hayes didn't have great hands, wasn't a superb route runner, and wasn't that great getting in and out of his cuts. He was just too fast for that era...or any era.

Bob Hayes has been forced to wait while lesser talents have surpassed him for the Hall of Fame such as Michael Irvin, who is second to Bob Hayes in Cowboys touchdown catches.

Hayes had the speed to run by cornerbacks and make them look silly and slow. The second player on this list to have a famous nickname and to win an Olympic gold medal and the Super Bowl. Bob Hayes is probably not in the Hall because he unfortunately used drugs after his career instead of helping to community like fellow super-fast freak, Darrell Green.


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