You've seen the box scores. Now, it's time to go deeper. With NFL.com's Next Gen stats, fans can see the game in a whole new way. Zebra Technologies has outfitted every NFL player with a tracker that collects data like velocity, distance traveled and proximity to opposing players. Every week throughout the 2016 season, STACK will provide extra insights into the NFL's most amazing Next Gen stats.
1. Will Fuller Proved His Ridiculous Speed Can Translate to the NFL
Coming out of Notre Dame, Will Fuller was known for one thing—pure speed. Some excerpts from his NFL.com pre-draft scouting report:
- "Elite acceleration"
- "Cornerbacks fear his speed"
- "Big time, vertical daddy"
In his rookie debut with the Houston Texans, Fuller proved that his speed translates to the NFL. Just look at his route chart (via NFL.com):
See all those vertical lines?
Fuller used his speed to torch the Chicago Bears downfield on a consistent basis and rack up a ton of yards after the catch. He finished the game with five receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
During training camp, STACK got a chance to watch Fuller train at the Texans' facility. One of the big knocks on Fuller coming out of Notre Dame was his slight frame (he's currently listed at 6-foot, 180 pounds), but he's much stronger than he looks.
"Will's a guy that's stronger than his body weight precedes. He really is, he's actually a very strong person. So right now, it's about maintaining [his] body mass," Texans head strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald told STACK. "But you don't want to put a lot of metal on a Ferrari. You want to keep the Ferrari rolling fast. We don't want to say, 'hey, let's bulk Will Fuller up.' That's not our job. Our job is to make sure Will can show his talents and gifts every time he steps on the field."
Judging by his debut, it looks like Fuller struck the perfect balance with his off-season training.
2. Brandin Cooks Roasted The Entire Oakland Defense
Speaking of wide receivers with breakneck speed, Brandin Cooks absolutely torched the Oakland Raiders on this 98-yard touchdown:
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 11, 2016
Cooks hit 22.13 mph on his supersonic streak to the end zone. How fast is that? During the entire 2015 NFL regular season, only five ballcarriers recorded a faster foot speed.
Cooks spends his off-seasons working out with Drew Brees and Darren Sproles. He develops his speed by doing things like running 15 mph on a treadmill for 15 seconds at maximum incline. "Everything is a competition with [Drew and Darren], you know, whether it's running from one building to the next or doing some particular exercise. If they mess up a rep, they get extremely mad and do it all over again. That's the beauty of being around these types of guys. They don't take anything for granted," Cooks told STACK.
3. A.J. Green Annexed Revis Island
Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season was a great time to be a receiver.
Of all the spectacular performances posted by wideouts, A.J. Green's might be the most impressive.
Why? Because he did it against Darelle Revis. Green's final stat line was 12 receptions for 180 receiving yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came while Revis was guarding him, as did 10 of his catches and 152 of his receiving yards. So, how did Green manage to firebomb Revis Island?
The game plan seemed to focus on feeding him the ball on quick-hitting routes. Green ran just two routes longer than 10 yards when Revis was matched against him. Green's excellent route-running skills and superior size allowed him to consistently beat Revis on short throws, and Andy Dalton did the rest. Green's acceleration and strength allowed him to break tackles and rack up a total of 79 yards after his catches.
Green's off-season workouts are old-school. He focuses on foundational lifts like Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts. His speed workouts are built around Hill Runs. This approach is obviously paying off, and it looks like Green is ready for another monster season.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock