The track speed at the Olympic Games always leaves people in awe, but NFL fans get to see that kind of quickness every week. With some of the best sprinters in the United States donning helmets and shoulder pads as they get ready for the NFL season, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at which football players could make a run for gold on the world stage. Here are my top five picks:
Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders
Ford could legitimately compete with the world’s elite sprinters. He garnered All-American honors for his exploits in track and field at Clemson, clocking an astonishing 6.52 60-meter dash in 2007, the best time in the nation that year. Ford finished his collegiate career in 2009 by winning the NCAA title in the 60-meter dash. He also finished first in the 100-meter dash at the 2009 NCAA Eastern Regional meet. Given Ford’s distinguished career as a track athlete, he might have even been able to snatch a medal in London had he stuck with the sport.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Before RG3 won a Heisman Trophy, he blazed the track as one of the nation’s top hurdlers. As a freshman in 2008, he finished first in the 400-meter hurdles at the Big 12 championship meet and went on to place third in the NCAA championships. He’s hung up his spikes to become the Washington Redskins’ franchise quarterback, but his remarkable athleticism could have made him a viable contender in the 2012 Olympics.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
It is not surprising that Charles has become one of the NFL’s most explosive runners. Running for Texas in the 2006 Big 12 conference meet, he finished first in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.23 seconds. He also posted personal bests that year (6.68 seconds in the 60-meter dash and 10.18 in the 100-meter dash) that would rival those of some of the world’s top sprinters. An anterior cruciate ligament injury — and the subsequent surgery — would have prevented him from excelling at the Summer Games this year, but Charles certainly possesses the talent to have competed for a spot on the U.S. team.
Stanford Routt, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Routt has developed into one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, but he could have become one of the nation’s top sprinters. The Houston product was named the Indoor Track Athlete of the Year by Conference USA in 2004 after winning the 60-meter and 200-meter races at the conference’s championship meet. He later recorded a jaw-dropping 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine. Routt is one of the NFL’s fastest defenders, and I wouldn’t count him out in a race with the world’s elite speedsters.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Any list featuring the fastest players in the NFL would be incomplete without Johnson. In 2008, he clocked the fastest 40-yard dash (4.24 seconds) in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine, and is an absolute blur on the field. While the East Carolina product doesn’t have the track credentials of the other players on this list, Johnson is a natural runner with the speed and burst to compete with some of the world’s fastest men. He has already challenged Usain Bolt and others to meet him on the track; an invite to the 2012 Summer Olympics would have allowed the world to see if Johnson could match his bravado.