Heyward-Bey was the definition of a burner. He was also the prototypical example of a draft pick under the old Oakland Raiders regime. The wideout from Maryland ran a blazing 4.30-second 40-yard-dash in 2009.
The Raiders took him with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft amid much criticism. The critics were proved right when he proceeded to bust for the Raiders. His best season was 2011 when he recorded 64 receptions for 975 yards and four touchdowns. He carved out a career mainly on special teams and still plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But overall he’s a massive bust based on his draft position. He’s only caught 202 passes for 2,897 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career.
9. Yamon Figurs – KR, Baltimore Ravens & Five Other Teams:
Figurs ran a blazing 4.3-second 40 in 2007. The Ravens took him in the third round of the draft that year and he played well enough. Filling in for starting kick returner BJ Sams, Figurs returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in 2007.
However, he was replaced in the 2008 season and then Baltimore cut him before the 2009 season. Figurs bounced around to the Lions, Raiders, Bucs, Browns, and Titans before fizzling out of the NFL in 2011. Despite his blazing speed, he could never gain any traction in the NFL.
8. Mike Thomas – WR, Jacksonville Jaguars & Three Other Teams:
He only stands 5’8”, but Thomas was taken in the fourth round of the 2009 draft after a blazing 4.30-second 40-yard dash. Thomas ended his four-year run in Jacksonville with 171 catches, 1,772 yards, and seven touchdowns.
He then bounced around to Detroit, Arizona, and Houston and was out of the NFL in 2014. While his draft position wasn’t so costly that it made him a major bust, his career left much to be desired.
7. Tye Hill – CB, St. Louis Rams & Three Other Teams:
Hill had a stellar collegiate career with NCAA powerhouse Clemson. After running a 4.3-second 40 at the 2006 combine, the Rams took him with the lofty 15th pick overall. His career actually started in impressive fashion, as he appeared well on his way to becoming the shutdown corner many envisioned he was. He was even voted the Rams’ Rookie of the Year in 2006.
However, his 2007 and 2008 seasons were marred by injury. He then bounced around the league with the Falcons, Titans, and Lions before flaming out of the league. Like many speedsters on this list, injuries sapped him of his speed. We never really knew how good Hill could have been.
Ford was another Clemson product who was so blazing fast that he ran track in addition to playing on their football team. He tallied a smoking 4.29 40 time in 2010 and was drafted by who else, the Oakland Raiders. Ford promptly became an all-purpose threat for the team, scoring seven total touchdowns in his first year.
He injured his ankle in 2011 and was forced to sit out the 2012 season. He returned but made only 13 catches in 2013 before his NFL career came to an abrupt end.
Robinson made a splash at the 2012 combine after a solid career at Central Florida. He ran a 4.29-second 40, ranking him among the top 20 of all-time. The Vikings liked it enough to draft him in the third round of that year’s draft.
Like many super-fast straight-line runners on this list, however, it just didn’t translate into success on the field. He spent multiple seasons falling down the Vikings’ depth chart until moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. He was last seen signing with the New Orleans Saints in 2018 and is currently a free agent.
4. DeMarcus Van Dyke – CB, Oakland Raiders/Pittsburgh Steelers/Four Other Teams:
Van Dyke turned heads when he ran a 4.28 40 at the 2011 Combine, which was the fourth-fastest record time ever at the time. True to form, the Raiders drafted him to shore up their defensive secondary. When new management came for the chaotic franchise in 2012, Van Dyke was cut.
He moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers and then four other teams until he was out of the NFL in 2016. It’s safe to say the speedy Van Dyke was little more than a combine superstar, making him a clear bust in terms of real football.
Myrick was most likely headed to undrafted free agent status following his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota. Then, he blazed a 4.28 second 40 in 2017 and was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars that year.
There’s not much else to say other than he was another super-fast player who couldn’t put the total package together on the field. He washed out in Jacksonville and resurfaced on the Viking’s practice squad, but his NFL career is close to over.
2. J.J Nelson – WR, Arizona Cardinals/Oakland Raiders:
Nelson came blazing into the league with a 4.28-second 40 in 2015. The Arizona Cardinals took him in the fourth round. He actually showed some promise as a deep threat playing with quarterback Carson Palmer under aggressively minded coach Bruce Arians.
Then Steve Wilks and Josh Rosen came to town in 2018. Nelson had a horrific seven catches for 64 yards in 2018 as Rosen appeared lost behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Wilks’ hapless play calling didn’t help matters either. Nelson was signed by the Oakland Raiders (of course he was) before the 2019 season. He can potentially turn things around under Jon Gruden, but he’s teetering on bust status as of now.
Like the aforementioned Matt Jones, Mathis blew the doors off the 2005 combine by running a 40 in 4.26 seconds. He showed a ton of talent and potential as a kick returner early in his career. After being drafted in the fourth round by Houston, he even made the Pro Bowl his rookie season.
But injuries began to sap him of his speed. In a terrible turn of events, Mathis fractured his foot in that Pro Bowl. He was then relegated to injured reserve for the duration of the next two seasons. He was then signed by Washington before the 2008 season but waived that May. Mathis never got the chance to show live up to his potential in the NFL.