The NFL has gone high-tech. New for the 2015 season, every player has a tracker embedded in his shoulder pads that collects data like velocity, distance traveled and proximity to opposing players. Zebra Technologies is the company behind the tech, and the insights they provide are letting fans see the game in a whole new light.
Week 1 produced some incredibly impressive data, and many of the players behind those numbers were STACK athletes. Let's take a look at who popped off the spreadsheet and the workouts behind their performance.
All data courtesy of NFL.com.
1. Travis Kelce Was Unguardable
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had a humungous Week 1, balling out to the tune of six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Part of Kelce's success stemmed from his ability to make things happen after the catch, and he surpassed the 16.5-mph mark on four different run-after-catches. He finished the day with 42 yards after the catch.
But it wasn't just pure speed that contributed to Kelce's big day. His route-running was phenomenal, and linebackers simply couldn't keep up. Kelce was consistently able to get open; he had 8.5, 9.0, 10.6, 11.1 and 10.4 yards of separation from the closest linebacker on his first five receptions.
His athleticism isn't an accident—it's a result of hard work. When we documented one of Kelce's recent workouts, he focused on strengthening his core and keeping his lower body strong. "Your core is like your engine. It triggers everything," Kelce said. Try out the Bunkie, one of Kelce's favorite core-strengthening moves, and you'll be tearing it up in no time.
2. Carlos Hyde Covered 654 Yards with the Ball in his Hands
San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde had a great Week 1, racking up 168 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. But the 6-foot, 235-pound Hyde really had to work for it. He spent his night zig-zagging through the Minnesota defense, covering a total distance of 645 yards as a ballcarrier—most in the NFL. Hyde was consistently changing directions and outrunning Vikings defenders every which way.
The best example might be Hyde's 10-yard touchdown run, which came right before halftime. The play started off as a basic inside run to the right side, but defenders quickly clogged things up. To suddenly change directions, Hyde busted out a sick spin move and sprinted toward the left pylon. Turning on the burners, he hit a top speed of 18.9 mph and zoomed across the goal line. Hyde covered a total distance of 47 yards on the play.
Hyde's unique blend of speed, agility and power is the result of workouts that include Sled Pulls, Dumbbell Step-Ups and Box Jumps.
3. Brandin Cooks Ran a Mile to Get Open
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks had a solid Week 1, hauling in four receptions for 49 yards. But against an Arizona Cardinals defense that includes Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, Cooks had to work his butt off for every inch. In Week 1, no player covered more ground than Cooks. He ran a total of 1,639 yards—just under a mile.
Cooks' mixture of explosiveness and endurance is a result of his work ethic. Check out one his favorite exercises to build upper-body strength and power.
4. Clay Matthews Reached 20.03 mph on His Touchdown-Saving Tackle
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had a terrific Week 1, logging 6 tackles and snatching a critical interception to help the Packers beat the Bears.
Matthews' most impressive tackle resulted from his running to the ball carrier and not quitting until the whistle blew. He began the play on the left side of the defense and watched as the Bears gave the rock to running back Matt Forte, who began streaking down the opposite sideline. Since he was on the backside of the play, Matthews could've easily started dogging it, but that's not his style. Instead, he channeled his inner cheetah and sprinted across the field to catch Forte from behind. Matthews clocked a top speed of 20.03 mph and ended up making a touchdown-saving tackle.
Matthews has always been a workout warrior, and his speed is the result of an extensive lower-body workout. Try the Swiss Ball Leg Curl, an exercise that frequently appears in Matthews' workouts, to develop your closing speed.
5. Marcus Mariota Might Be the Fastest QB in the NFL
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota had a field day in his first NFL game, throwing for four touchdowns and earning a perfect QB rating of 158.3. His arm was accurate and powerful, but his legs were just as impressive.
RELATED: Marcus Mariota's QB Core Circuit
Mariota's foot speed was clocked at 21.42 mph on a scramble and 20.35 mph on a designed run, the two fastest speeds reached by an NFL QB in Week 1. His fleet feet also helped him navigate on rollouts and use read-option play-action to great success.
Mariota's speed is the product of superior core strength and efficient running mechanics. To develop your dual-threat QB skills, check out Marcus Mariota's full workout, which includes exercises like Resisted Backpedals and Falling Starts.
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