Vikings Now Employ the Fastest Player in NFL

Image Courtesy of Vikings.com | Minnesota Vikings cornerback Kalon Barnes. The defender joined Minnesota in December 2022 after release by the Miami Dolphins. Barnes entered the NFL from the 2022 NFL Draft, a pick by the Carolina Panthers.

Speed is an essential attribute in the sport of football. It can help receivers create separation, defenders close the gap, and in general, getting as fast as possible from point A to point B is a big deal.

Vikings Now Employ the Fastest Player in NFL

The 40-yard dash is a valuable tool to identify fast players, although speed is nowadays measured via GPS tracking data. Those numbers aren’t available to the fans, so they are still relying on the draft combine numbers for that reason.

Vikings Now Employ the Fastest Player in the League
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Legends surround players like Deion Sanders, who ran a 4.21 40-yard dash back in his day when the stopwatch was used to determine the time, leading to inaccurate numbers. Nowadays, the runs are electronically measured and accurate.

John Ross is the modern leader of the combine numbers. The wide receiver ran a 4.22 in 2017, resulting in the Cincinnati Bengals drafting him with the ninth overall pick. Ross retired on Wednesday. Mike Garafolo reported on Twitter: “The Chiefs placed WR John Ross on the reserve/retired list, according to today’s transaction wire. The record holder for the fastest 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine (4.22) and No. 9 overall pick in 2017 has decided to retire.”

The Bengals had high hopes for Ross, but it never worked out for the speedster. He played in 37 games and caught 62 passes for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns. Knee injuries in college and shoulder and muscle injuries in the pros cost him a promising career.

PFF Has a New WR
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.

But now that he is out of the league, the Vikings suddenly employ the fastest player in the league. Cornerback Kalon Barnes posted a time of 4.23 at the 2022 scouting combine, the second-best time ever.

Barnes was a seventh-round pick in last year’s draft of the Carolina Panthers, but he was waived during the final cutdown day – the day every team cuts players to get down to 53 players. The Miami Dolphins added Barnes to their practice squad from where the Vikings signed him to their roster in December.

He appeared in two games with the Vikings and logged nine snaps on special teams. Of course, his speed is a valuable asset in hunting down returners.

Vikings Sign One of Fastest Players in NFL History
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

Viewed as an elite athlete with significant weaknesses in terms of technique coming out of college, Barnes is still a project that has to learn how to be an effective cornerback. He should be viewed as a longshot to make the team unless special teams coach Matt Daniels wants him on his unit.

Still, Barnes will compete in training camp at a position up for grabs. Byron Murphy is one starter but other than that, everything is possible. Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth, the two 2022 draft picks, are envisioned as two potential starters, just like rookie Mekhi Blackmon, a third-rounder out of USC, and veteran Joejuan Williams, who was signed in free agency.


Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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