Can Xavier Worthy and his record-breaking 4.21 speed really make it in the NFL?

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy had the mic drop moment of the NFL scouting combine, breaking John Ross’ record in the 40-yard dash with a blazing official mark of 4.21 seconds, beating Ross by .01 seconds on Saturday.

Afterward, Worthy waved to the cameras, had a huge grin and started packing up his equipment for the day.

"Hold on, I'm tired," Worthy jokingly and out of breath told the NFL Network during an on-field interview.

Worthy has been known as one of the fastest players in college football since he stepped foot on the field, but it’s still fun to get a confirmed time on just how fast this guy is. Turns out, he’s one of the fastest ever to play football.

How much that affects his draft stock will be determined over the next few months, but Saturday was mostly cause for celebration.

"I watched the combine my whole life," Worth said. "As a kid, seeing John Ross run that, man I never thought I’d be able to be on a stage and do that."

Worthy joins a select fraternity of players to run in the 4.2s at the combine, which will always cause folks to turn their heads. That’s speed that can be a touchdown every time he gets the ball in his hands. That’s speed that causes coaches to think “what if I can be the one to incorporate this correctly into an offense?” That’s speed that can get a player drafted in the first round, even with other concerns about their game. Having a trump card like this in the arsenal is something that can legitimately be a source of generational wealth. A 4.21 40-yard dash feeds families.

Still, there are some hazard points to take note of here. Worthy measured into the combine at 165 pounds, which would make him one of the lightest players in the NFL. That limits some of the options that teams will have with him. But he still would be a tremendous player for offenses that already have an established No. 1 wide receiver. When a player is locked into a weight that is well below the size of the other players around him, it can be hard for them to showcase the best of their abilities. It's also hard to catch someone that has true sprinter speed.

Ross was selected ninth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft and had a fairly quiet career before retiring prior to the 2023 season. He had only 957 receiving yards in that timespan and struggled with injuries. All that means is dominant speed doesn’t necessarily equal an incredibly productive NFL career. Worthy could still be a special player despite his dimensions, which undoubtedly put him into the outlier tier.

However, everything about Worthy’s profile is in the outlier tier. There aren’t many players who can legitimately be counted on to score a touchdown from more than 50 yards out — Worthy is one of those guys. There aren’t many players who can take on a heavy workload at 165 pounds — Worthy is one of those guys.

It’ll be interesting to see where Worthy ends up drafted and exactly how far his speed can take him in the NFL. For now, it can be fun to just be in awe of the spectacle of being one of the fastest people on the damn planet.

"I really just wanted to go get that record for myself,” Worthy said.

Shout out to Worthy and the other lightning bolts who pump life into an event that can take itself far too seriously.

Comments on this article