Who is the fastest player in the NFL? Top 2022 speeds include Jaylen Waddle, Kenneth Walker & more

By | February 28, 2023

There may be no greater weapon on a football field than pure speed.

No matter how big or strong a player is, they won’t be of much use if they can’t catch up to the guy with the ball. In today’s NFL, getting the fastest players the ball in space has become one of the key offensive strategies. 

The importance of speed is reflected in just how much focus is put on 40-yard dash times for NFL prospects. It is arguably the most important drill at the annual NFL Combine and certainly one of the most popular among fans. 

MORE: Full list of 2023 NFL Combine participants

Starting this week, hundreds of young players will compete to post times that impress scouts, coaches and fans alike. As they look to show off their wheels on the national stage, here’s a look at the NFL’s fastest players from the 2022 season, based on peak in-game speed:

Fastest players in the NFL 2022

A ranking of the 10 fastest ballcarrier speeds from the 2022 season, per the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. All speeds are listed in mph. 

1. Parris Campbell, WR, Colts: 22.11 mph

Campbell claimed the fastest speed in the 2022 season with his a 26-yard rush during the Colts’ Week 18 matchup vs. the Texans. Interestingly, it was the shortest play in this top-10 list, and it was one of only two plays in the top 10 that didn’t go for a touchdown. 

Campbell’s 22.11 mph measurement was just short of Colts running back Jonathan Taylor’s 22.13 mph top speed in the fastest recorded run of the 2021 campaign. 

You can watch the video of the play by navigating to the 5:19 mark of the YouTube video found here.

MORE: Six best QB options for Colts in 2023, from Bryce Young to Aaron Rodgers

2. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seahawks: 22.09 mph

Walker’s breakout rookie season was highlighted by this 74-yard house call in Week 7 against the Chargers. He took a handoff to the right sideline and turned on the jets, leaving two defenders in the dust. 

3: Breece Hall, RB, Jets: 21.87 mph

For the first few months of the 2022 season, Hall looked set to run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. That early success was punctuated by this 62-yard touchdown scamper against the Broncos in Week 7. 

But Hall tore his ACL and meniscus one quarter later, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Jets fans will hope that “Breece Lightning” is able to get back to his electrifying best when he makes his eventual return to the field. 

4. DeSean Jackson, WR, Ravens: 21.72 mph

The top 10’s biggest surprise came from the 36-year-old Jackson, who reemerged with the Ravens for several weeks midway through the season. The former Eagles star has been bouncing around the league the past few years, unable to find a long-term home.

MORE: Most likely franchise tag candidates, including Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley 

He showed he still has major wheels in Week 12 against the Jaguars. Lamar Jackson heaved one toward him downfield, and Jackson reached 21.72 mph before laying out for a diving catch late in the fourth quarter of Baltimore’s 28-27 loss in Jacksonville. 

5. Christian Watson, WR, Packers: 21.72 mph

Watson’s emergence as a rookie was one of the few bright spots of a disappointing 2022 season in Green Bay.

He showed the league just how dangerous he could be with this end-around against the Bears that went for a 46-yard touchdown. Before Chicago’s defense even knew what was happening, Watson was halfway to the house. The TD helped lead the Pack to a 28-19 win. 

6. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins: 21.68 mph

Waddle may be known for his penguin celebration, but unlike penguins, he can absolutely fly. When he gets loose in the open field, it’s a terrifying sight for defenders. 

Take, for example, this 84-yard house call against the Packers on Christmas Day. What seemed like a harmless crossing route for a first down suddenly turned into a game-breaking play when he hit his top speed down the right sideline. Waddle and his teammate Tyreek Hill are so fast, they make the Dolphins one of the most electric offenses in the league. 

7. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: 21.68 mph

What looked like a blowout win for the Bills in Week 10 got turned on its head when Cook exploded for this 81-yard touchdown run, in which he reached 21.68 mph. The sixth-year pro had to show off the wheels in front of his brother, James, who was standing on the opposite sideline.

It helped spark a massive comeback by Minnesota, culminating in a 33-30 overtime victory that included this memorable fourth-down catch by Justin Jefferson. 

8. Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars: 21.62 mph

One of the most exciting aspects of football is that any given play can end up being a touchdown. Even a run up the middle designed to pick up a few yards can turn into a home-run play out of seemingly nothing. 

This Etienne run looked like a simple inside handoff, but his speed and elusiveness turned what could have been a 3-yard gain into a 62-yard score. 

9. Devin Duvernay, WR, Ravens: 21.60 mph

One of longest plays of the 2022 season also featured one of the fastest top speeds. Duvernay got his team off to the perfect start in Week 2 with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

At one point, it looked nearly impossible for the Baltimore speedster to outrun the final defender down the sideline without making a cut, but he put his head down and did it anyway. 

10. Tariq Woolen, CB, Seahawks: 21.58 mph

The only defensive player to make this list gave us an impromptu 40-yard dash with this 40-yard interception return against the Lions in Week 4. From picking off the throw to leaping into the end zone, it took Woolen about six seconds. Of course, it’s a little harder to post a time when you’ve got defenders trying to slam you to the turf.

It was the second of four straight games with an interception for Woolen, who was voted a finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

MOCK DRAFT: Two picks in first round for Seattle

Who is the fastest NFL player of all time?

Next Gen Stats have only been around since 2016, so it’s impossible to know if someone from before then might hold the distinction. 

What we do know is that the fastest official speed ever recorded belongs to Tyreek Hill. “Cheetah” reached 23.24 mph on a kickoff return against the Texans during his rookie season.

Unfortunately for Hill and the Chiefs, the play was called back because of a holding penalty, so it didn’t end up being a touchdown. But it’s still a high honor to be the fastest player ever recorded in the NFL. 

Hill was a track star in high school. His personal-best 200-meter time of 20.14 seconds would have been good enough for sixth place at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Even though we’ll never know for sure who the fastest man in NFL history is, there seems to be no doubt that Hill is near the top.