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2018 NFL Scouting Combine: Top 5 candidates to break 40 record

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Every year around this time, the fastest players in the draft class get a little extra attention with the NFL Scouting Combine (March 2-5 on NFL Network) just around the corner. For years, Chris Johnson tuned in to our coverage without a worry of someone stealing the title of fastest man in combine history away from him, but John Ross broke Johnson's nine-year-old record of 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 4.22 last year.

Could we see Ross' record fall only one year later?

It's possible, although I don't think it's likely. I think we have one player with a very legitimate chance to break the record -- LSU CB Donte Jackson, who already has said he's aiming to beat Ross' time. Jackson is the No. 1 player on my list of prospects with the best chance to break the record, but I've also identified in this post four other guys who are going to run really fast at the event in Indianapolis.

NOTE: Click on each player's name for a full combine scouting report.

1) Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Date of Combine workout: Monday, March 5
Analysis: Jackson is one of the most talented cornerback prospects in the 2018 draft even though he lacks ideal size (listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds). He makes up for that lack of size with blazing speed. He's a legitimate track star -- he's run 100 meters in 10.22 seconds. LSU coaches have timed him at 4.24 in the 40-yard dash. He's clearly this year's top candidate to break the 40 record.

2) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Date of Combine workout: Monday, March 5
Analysis: I have Ward rated as the top cornerback in the draft. I've been told by sources at Ohio State that Ward is the most explosive athlete they've had since Urban Meyer took over as head coach in 2012. He recorded a 10.49-second 100-meter time while in high school, and Ohio State strength coaches have timed him at 4.31 in the 40. If everything goes smoothly, he could run a sub-4.3 in Indianapolis.

3) Tony Brown, CB, Alabama

Date of Combine workout: Monday, March 5
Analysis: Brown has never completely lived up to the hype on the football field, but his raw speed is undeniable. He's a track star for the Crimson Tide. He was an All-American, recording a time of 13.52 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles. He has been clocked in the 4.3s in the 40 by the Alabama strength staff and I'll be surprised if he doesn't finish with a 40 time very close to 4.30 seconds at the combine.

4) Nyheim Hines, RB, N.C. State

Date of Combine workout: Friday, March 2
Analysis: Hines was an undersized running back for the Wolfpack, and he's another player with a track background. I love his combination of speed and quickness. I gave him a middle-round draft grade. He's recorded a 10.49-second 100-meter time for the N.C. State track team. He's also posted an impressive 6.71-second 60-meter-dash time at the ACC Indoor Championships. I don't see him running sub-4.30, but he'll be close to that number.

5) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Date of Combine workout: Friday, March 2
Analysis: You might think it's crazy to mention Barkley with these other legitimate track stars. However, Barkley's play speed jumps off the tape and he's reportedly run in the 4.3s at Penn State, despite weighing 230-plus pounds. I highly doubt he'll best the 40 record, but a time in the low 4.3s at his size is arguably a more impressive feat.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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