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How do certain NFL players run so fast?

American football players like Chris Johnson, Dri Archer, and Jacoby Ford have incredible speed.

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High school track coach and current answer provider Aaron Ellis

All three of these men—Chris Johnson, Dri Archer, and Jacoby Ford—shared a common background as top-tier Florida high school sprinters.

Chris Johnson, while attending Olympia High School in Orlando, FL, ran a 10.3. He finished second in both the 100 and 200 at the 2004 state championship, losing both races to Walter Dix, who would go on to win bronze medals at the next two Olympics. The 400 metre relay team he was a part of won the state championship, and he was the anchor.

At Venice High School in Venice, Florida, Dri Archer and the future NFL star Trey Burton were classmates and teammates. When it came to track and field, Archer was unrivalled. He ran the 100-meter dash in 10.4 seconds. At the 2008 state championships, he placed second, behind only Dentarius Locke, who would go on to become a sub-10-second All American sprinter.

In 2005, Jacoby Ford of Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, ran a personal best of 10.3 seconds in the 100-meter dash and won the state title. Instead of focusing solely on football during his time at Clemson University, like Chris Johnson and Dri Archer did, Jacoby Ford also competed in track. He was a five-time All-American, but his track career far outshone his football career. Although he could have placed well in the 100 or 200, his indoor 60-meter dash was his forte. In 2009, he won the NCAA 60-meter dash with a time of 6.52 seconds, which was only 1/100th of a second slower than the NCAA record held by Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago, who has won three Olympic silver medals (and formerly LSU).

These guys have great sprint technique, making them effective runners both on the track and in the football field, so it’s important to note the track connection. There is a limit to what can be achieved through pure speed and strength. Sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash times, like sub-10.5 second 100-meter dash times, are indicators of elite running form and quickness.

Continue reading this Quora thread to find out if NFL players think the Super Bowl is an accurate reflection of the best team of the year. Why do NFL players sign contracts for so much more money than they make?

As for Chris Johnson, Dri Archer, and Jacoby Ford, they each had their own unique advantages.

Mr. Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson’s 4.24 second 40-yard dash time, which is tied for the fastest nfl player run ever, stands out primarily because of his 10.24 second 10-yard split (how fast he ran for the first ten yards). His decade split is a staggering 1.40. If you’re a football player and you’ve run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.30 seconds, you’ve got the fastest 10-yard split I’ve ever seen. Only Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, with a 1.31 10-yard split, has come close (and a 4.29s 40 time).

The 10y-split matters because it reveals useful information about an athlete’s initial burst of speed. Based on his split time, Chris Johnson likely has lightning-fast reflexes and explosive acceleration. As a running back, this means he can burst through the hole at an incredible rate. Making it tough for defenders to track him down.

Archer, Dri

Together, he and Calvin Johnson have the record for fewest steps taken in a 40. Keep in mind that there is a nine-inch height disparity between Dri Archer (who is 5′ 8″) and Calvin Johnson (who is 6′ 5″). Dri Archer’s long, loping stride helps him separate from opponents, in contrast to the short. Quick strides that most shorter runners use to achieve their speed.

Jacoby Ford.

In contrast to the 100-meter dash. Where a fast time can be run despite a slow start or late top-end speed. The 60-meter dash. Like the 40-meter dash. Necessitates a fast start and very rapid acceleration. His unimpressive results in the 3-cone drill (4.44) and the 20-yard shuttle (7.00) indicate that he is more of a straight-ahead runner than a nimble ball-carrier who can easily change directions on the field. This makes sense given the Raiders’ usage of him; he was more effective as a return man than a receiver.


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