Fastest Defensive Tackle 40 Times in NFL Combine History
I’ve always loved the NFL Combine. A series of events to evaluate the physical characteristics of the best college football players each year. While it’s debatable whether this whole event is actually valuable (why we’re still doing 225 rep tests, especially with Wide Receivers, I’ll never know), my fascination with it has never waned.
When I trained players for the combine, one of the things we would always do is look at previous years’ results to see how we stacked up. It was a great tool for goal-setting and motivation.
I basically did the same thing for this guide. I went through all the previous NFL Combines to find the top Defensive Tackle 40 times of all time.
Note: These are the official NFL Combine times from NFL.com. Some resources online will also include pro day times, but because there are so many other variables (surface, weather, etc) I’ve stuck strictly to the official times from Indianapolis.
Best Defensive Tackle NFL Combine 40 Times All-Time
|Fastest Defensive Tackle Times in NFL Combine History|
|Fletcher Cox||Mississippi State||4.79||2012|
|Anthony Zettel||Penn State||4.81||2016|
Year By Year Top Defensive Tackle 40 Times
Here is a breakdown of the top 5 40 times from each year going back to 2013. (Prior to 2013 all defensive linemen were categorized together) In addition to the top 5 each year, I’ve also included any Defensive Tackle that has run under a 5 flat or faster.
Related –> NFL Combine Averages By Position at 2023 NFL Combine
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2023|
|Dante Stills||West Virginia||4.85||2023|
|Gervon Dexter Sr||Florida||4.88||2023|
|Zacch Pickens||South Carolina||4.89||2023|
Related –> NFL Combine Averages By Position at 2022 NFL Combine
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2022|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2020|
|Justin Madubuike||Texas A&M||4.83||2020|
|Rob Windsor||Penn State||4.90||2020|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2019|
|Jerry Tillery||Notre Dame||4.93||2019|
|Khalen Saunders||Western Illinois||5.01||2019|
|Renell Wren||Arizona State||5.01||2019|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2018|
|Breeland Speaks||Ole Miss||4.87||2018|
|B.J. Hill||N.C. State||4.99||2018|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2017|
|Malik McDowell||Michigan State||4.85||2017|
|Isaac Rochell||Notre Dame||4.89||2017|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2016|
|Anthony Zettel||Penn State||4.81||2016|
|Robert Nkemdiche||Ole Miss||4.87||2016|
|Connor Wujciak||Boston College||4.91||2016|
|Javon Hargrave||South Carolina State||4.93||2016|
|Lawrence Thomas||Michigan State||4.98||2016|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2015|
|Mario Edwards||Florida State||4.84||2015|
|Xavier Cooper||Washington State||4.86||2015|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2014|
|Kelcy Quarles||South Carolina||5.03||2014|
|Khyri Thornton||Southern Mississippi||5.03||2014|
|Fastest NFL Combine Defensive Tackle Times 2013|
|Sylvester Williams||North Carolina||5.03||2013|
|Everett Dawkins||Florida State||5.06||2013|
|Jared Smith||New Hampshire||5.08||2013|
Does Running a Fast 40 at the Combine Guarantee Success for a Defensive Tackle?
Running a fast 40 at the NFL Combine can lead to much hype and recognition, but does it directly translate to NFL success?
I analyzed the careers of the all-time top 10 defensive tackle 40 times to get an idea of if being one of the fastest DTs ever was a lock for NFL greatness.
And after looking through each guy’s career it doesn’t appear that a fast 40 time guarantees success, I did find some pretty interesting facts.
First, it seems fitting that the fastest defensive tackle ever at the combine is Aaron Donald (by almost a full tenth of a second by the way). Arguably the best defensive tackle ever to play the game, Donald has racked up multiple defensive player of the year awards and 9 pro bowl selections.
The list of top ten times also includes another highly decorated player, Fletcher Cox. Cox has 4 All-Pro selections and 6 pro bowls.
Between the two of them, they’re probably the most successful duo of any of the best 40 times at any position.
Also of note is the fact that every single defensive tackle in the top 10 was drafted, 4 (Donald, Wyatt, Davis, Cox) in the first round. No other position group I’ve studied can say that.
And, finally, in case you needed extra proof of why that 2022 Georgia defense was so good – 2 of the top 4 fastest times ever was posted by the two defensive tackles manning the inside of that defensive line. Wow.
Keep in mind that not everyone that gets invited to NFL Combine actually runs a 40 at the Combine. So, some players that potentially could have run extremely fast times don’t have an official time on the record.
On top of that, there are many players each year that would have put up fast times and had success at the NFL level that doesn’t receive an NFL Combine invite.
Other Position Groups
Want to check out some more all-time 40 times?