Speed is an important aspect of playing in the NFL. After all, the faster you can run, the less likely someone is to catch you and take you down. For quarterbacks, having a little extra zoom can be the difference in taking a nasty 10-yard loss on a sack or taking off for a first down when your receivers are all smothered by defenders. Not all quarterbacks are created equal, however, and some have a little more leg under them than others. Here are the five fastest quarterbacks of all time.

Steve McNair

Air McNair may have earned his nickname with his ability to control a game by passing the ball, but dude had some wheels too. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry, 37 rushing TDs and racked up a solid 3,590 yards on the ground. In 1997, he got the third highest total on the ground of any quarterback in history and played second fiddle on his own team only to the great Eddie George.

Steve Young

Steve Young was one of only a handful of quarterbacks who could do it all. Accurate and powerful passing, ability to run a game with astute play-calling, and the ability to turn on the burners when it was needed. In fact, he was so fast that while in college he was almost made into a safety. His stat line says it all: 5.9 yards per carry, 4,239 yards on the ground, and held the NFL record for most TDs by a quarterback at 43 until it was broken by our next quarterback on the list.

Cam Newton

Cam Newton is a different breed of quarterback. Not only does he have the speed and throwing abilities of guys like Steve Young and Air McNair, but he also has the ability to take over a game like few others when the rest of his team isn’t getting it done. In six short years he has already surpassed almost every other quarterback in rushing stats: 48 TDs, 3,566 yards, with 5.2 yards per carry. He may have a reputation for being a bit of a baby, but dude is legit when it comes time to outrun just about anybody.

Tom Brady

Ha! Just kidding, you want this list instead.

John Elway

Elway is the guy who made being both a rushing quarterback and a passing quarterback cool. Prior to him there were guys who could do both, but most did one or the other much better. The best of the vaunted Quarterback Class of 1983, Elway is one of only two players to score rushing touchdowns in four separate Super Bowls, the other being running back Thurman Thomas. Elway led his team to five championship games, winning two, as a player and to two more as a General Manager, winning one of those. He had 3,407 yards on the ground, 33 TDs, and averaged 4.4 yards per carry.

Michael Vick

Who else would be at the top of the list for fastest quarterbacks? His career was severely damaged by his bad off-the-field behavior, but nobody can deny that Vick had wheels like no other. Able to take the ball the length of the field and back again without being touched, Vick was a threat to score with every snap. With 6,109 yards, 36 TDs, and an outrageous 7 yards per carry, it will be a very long time before any other quarterback can do what this guy did.

(Image courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.)