Every year a new crop of young and athletic prospects roll into the league like an army of marching ants ready to build and conquer. People like myself are always enamored with this process and get excited at the idea of a new generation of dominant players entering the league.
Statistically, every draft class will produce a handful or two of pro-bowl talents, as well as one or two Hall of Famers. It’s this concept that intrigues fans alike as they attempt to assemble the pieces of game film, work-out numbers and interviews, and manufacture an educated guess at exactly which players will in fact go on to have long, illustrious careers.
Of course, this can’t even be determined for close to a decade after the draft — if not longer –but that doesn’t stop super fans from taking a stab at the carnival-like game, no matter how bad the odds are stacked against them, just for the opportunity somewhere down the road to say, “I told ya so!”
One thing that is for certain is that players are growing at an astonishing rate, getting bigger, stronger, and faster; exponentially. No matter the college attended or the position played, prospects are pushing themselves to new heights both physically and mentally, just for an opportunity to play in the NFL. With such a heavy emphasis of molding and growing athletes at a young age, with every new crop we’re starting to see players do things we’ve never seen before, and are witnessing to things we didn’t even know were possible.
we will begin to see a new generation of “Super Athletes”
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a good example of exactly that. A monster of a man, Newton stands over six foot six inches and moves around like he had help from above. With his uncanny athleticism and lightning quick acceleration, it’s no wonder why he wears an “S” on his chest, showing off similar qualities of Clark Kent himself.
Although injuries have slowed him down as of late, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was the closest thing we could get to watching someone literally fly on the football field. Polamalu’s football instincts were off the charts resembling comic book super hero Spider-Man, with his ability to swing from one side of the field to the other in a flash, and using his football like “Spidey-Sense” to track down the ball.
Things like stress hormones, diet, and strength training can all be dissected and analyzed helping athletes push their game to new heights from an external source. This isn’t limited to professionals, with thousands of workout apps on the market anyone can measure their distance ran, heart beats, and breathing rate.
The latest technological toy to hit the football field was the Under Armor E39 shirt. The shirt has heart and breathing sensors built into it, as well as the ability to measure a player’s acceleration and g-force. Amazing how just a shirt can give us information we’ve never seen before, helping us dissect a prospect’s athletic ability even more. Newton wore the shirt during his 2011 combine and while he ran an above average at best 4.49 40-time, he generated 9.48 g’s when he exploded out of his stance.
To put that in comparison, some of the best athletes generated just 6 g’s of force in the same drill. This information is vital to scouts and coaches as it can help display a player like Newton’s ability to run through linebackers, instead of being run over by them. Just this shirt is a prime example of what technology can do in advancing sports to new unprecedented levels, and why coaches have already begun to throw out their soon to be obsolete stopwatches and measuring tape.
Meanwhile, internally, doctors are able to use the latest and greatest technology to fix and repair players’ bodies at an unprecedented rate. One of the most common injuries is an ACL tear in the knee which used to take sometimes multiple years to fully recover from. Now, technology has allowed surgeons to treat and heal patients in half the time period while helping them grow back the muscle stronger than ever.
Of course that’s just using technology to fix a current problem, but when athletes use the resources at hand to enhance their bodies is when we will begin to see a new generation of “Super Athletes”. We’ve already started to see glimpses of this with disabled athletes and their ability to attain new body parts or limbs, helping them achieve some of their lifelong dreams.
An even more common procedure is Lasik-Eye surgery as it has become another way for athletes to enhance their vision in just a few short hours, giving them the ability to see the ball clearer and more efficiently.
Surely, these technological enhancements and many more are sure to go through a long and tedious process, both in the laboratory and in the courtroom, before they are made legal and are allowed in professional athletes throughout the sports world, the fact remains that athletes are slowly but surely embarking into a new evolution of the physical body as we know it.
With the help of Superhero guru Andrew Inman, we check out the current guardians and defenders of the world, as we try to get a glimpse and idea of what attributes players may hold in the future, and where they would excel of the football field because of it.
Weight: 240 pounds
Bench Press: 1 Rep x 1,200 pounds
Speed/Endurance: Ran one mile in 73 seconds (49mph)
When dissecting the greatest quarterbacks to play the game guys like Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and John Elway quickly come to mind as they all share a common thread of genes that hold them together; poise. Captain America holds this attribute in spades otherwise known as the “clutch gene”.
Also known as Steve Rogers, Captain America is tough and strong both physically and mentally and will always come through for his team when they need him the most. Rogers isn’t from this generation filled with egos and a “me first” persona, but instead has a driven need to help others and sacrifice himself first before the rest of his teammates. When someone needs to step up Rogers can be called upon, much like when he when he volunteered to receive experimental Super-Soldier serum during World War II when his country (team) needed him the most.
With two lifetimes worth of war experience as an agility expert, Rogers thrives with the ball in his hands and can dish out the most damage in a run-first style system. Although, once the defense has committed nine-men into the box, his play-action calls and deep accuracy are supernatural to say the least, as best seen when Captain America feels the pressure of the defense and understands when to throw his shield. While he has the awareness and peak human abilities to thrive in any surroundings a “Pistol” or “Option” style offensive scheme would maximize his attributes. But don’t worry; his photographic memory will allow coaches to install a completely new concept and game plan every given Sunday. Want a guy that is a leader on and off the field? Steve Rogers isn’t just the captain of the locker room, he’s the captain of America.
“If I need a touchdown on the last drive of the game, and he’s your quarterback, the only question is if you’re kicking the extra point or going for two,” AFC North General Manager.
Tight End: Superman
Weight: 235 pounds
Speed: Faster than light
Don’t let the measurables fool you, the most powerful being on planet earth is Superman, otherwise known as Clark Kent, and he can do more than just hang with the big boys of the NFL he can flat out kill’em. A small town boy raised on good morals and a hard work ethic, Kent is every coach’s dream and a positive influence on the field, locker room, and in real life.
On the field he has exceptional balance between a traditional in-line blocking tight-end, and a pass catching threat. His strength and physicality in the blocking game is not just like having an extra offensive lineman, but having a second offensive line altogether.
Forget about overthrown passes; with his ability to fly, Superman shows the smooth movement skills to easily separate and get underneath any poorly thrown passes. A guy you want on your side, Superman will never give up and always find a way to make the play (and save the day).
“When looking at the all-time great tight-ends, this guy turns Shannon Sharpe’s combination of strength and athleticism to dust,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper.
Running Back: The Flash
Weight: 195 pounds
Speed/Endurance: Faster than Superman
Put down the stopwatches and try to keep up as Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash can go from stop, to go, to gone all before you hear the snap of the ball. The best running backs to play the game never had the instincts The Flash carries as he can move, think, and react at light speed.
While he may not appear to have the physical strength to wipe out opposing linebackers and defenders, Allen has the lightning-quick decision making to go along with his supersonic speed making him nearly impossible to game plan against let alone defend. If speed kills, then Allen could be better known as the Bubonic Plague, because unlike other running backs, he only holds one gear; lightning.
“Most track stars aren’t football players, and most football players aren’t track stars, Barry is both,” NFC East scout.
Wide Receiver: Daredevil
Weight: 200 pounds
Strength: Can lift 450 lbs over his head
Special Trait: Enhanced four senses after loss of sight (Superhuman senses)
With his loss of eyesight, Matt Murdock seems like a cornerbacks dream when lining up across the field, but watch the tape and you’ll witness a freak when it comes to the other four senses at his disposal. In combination with his olympic-like athleticism that tests off the charts he also has the ability to sense the entire field before the play even happens.
In-between the hashes, Daredevil gets off the line of scrimmage like butter using his highly technical ninja hand-to-hand combat skills to brush off his defender. Once the ball is in the air it’s his choice to go around or up and over his opponent with acrobatic talents making even the most unimaginable catches look simplistic in nature.
If that wasn’t enough to discourage defensive coordinators just know Murdock can even sense his opponents adrenaline and endurance levels knowing exactly when the best time to attack deep down the field is.
“For his lack of measurables, he shouldn’t be able to make the plays he does, he’s the reason a lot of scouts like me don’t have jobs anymore,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
Offensive Lineman: Thor
Weight: 640 pounds
Special Attribute: As a god, he holds more power than Roger Goodell
When people think of getting nasty in the trenches it’s often the defensive line that comes to mind first, but Thor is a player that will change that landscape (literally) as you know it. At 6’6” 640 pounds, Thor uses superhuman strength and endurance to not just absorb blockers, but instead demolish them into an oblivion (just pray the referee is looking the other way) without breaking a sweat.
While Thor is notorious for his clean technique and charming persona in front of the locker room cameras, don’t be fooled as he has a secret deadly weapon waiting for any defender that wants to play dirty. Thor’s hammer otherwise known as Mjolnir (Meel-Neer), is a part of his game that originally got him noticed back in pee-wee football which led to an eventual five-star recruit by scouts.
Forged in the heart of an exploding star, Mjolnir emits mystical blasts of energy powerful enough to wipe out planets, so safe to say he will keep your quarterback upright while paving massive holes in the running game.
“He was always one of those blue-chip-can’t miss prospects coming out, so you just knew he would take the league by storm and make an immediate impact,” AFC East owner.
Defensive Tackle: Hulk
Weight: 1040-1400 pounds (height and weight vary by his rage)
Strength: Hulk once punched an asteroid twice the size of earth and shattered it
Weight: 128 pounds
Fact: 3rd smartest person on planet Earth
With Bruce Banner, you’re first to take the good with the bad as there’s two sides to his game. Notorious for starting games out slow, Banner gets easily washed up and pushed off the point of attack, often looking like he doesn’t belong anywhere near a football field. However, his understanding and smarts of the game benefit his team as he comes up with some of the most out-of-the-box plays the league has ever seen changing the game as we know it.
At 5’9” 128 pounds Banner is a flat out liability against the run and pass, but with a few halftime adjustments and motivational speeches something marvelous happens. After two quarters of Richie Incognito-like trash talk from his opponents, Banner snaps and channels his passion for the game with some sort of super hero strength.
Hulk, as his teammates like to call him, suddenly plays with more strength and power when he grows up to 8 feet and 1400 pounds. From there he uses great fundamentals and technique deriving from his base, chewing up would-be blockers, and allowing his linebackers behind him to flow to the ball. If you can survive his first half inadequacies, the Hulk is someone who has proven to get better and stronger when faced with more adversity deriving from tough fourth quarter situations with the game on the line.
“A sort of Jekyll and Hyde thing because I don’t know which guy I’m getting from the tape. It was never a question of smarts, but if he could put it together for all four quarters,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock
Middle Linebacker: Wolverine
Weight: 300 pounds
Strength: Once lifted 12 men over his head with one arm and threw them through a wall.
Strength: Tore Kyle Rudolph’s hamstring with retractable claws while playing against Notre Dame his sophomore season.
“I’ve never had a higher grade on any linebacker coming out than Logan,” said a NFC North scout.
Logan helped the university of Michigan get back on the national map and was the catalyst of four-straight national titles after walking on his freshman year, earning him the nickname “Wolverine”.
With animal like instincts and a master in many fighting styles, coaches were perplexed on how to channel his raw ability while finding him a true position. That was until a few weeks into the summer two-a-days when Logan sent three players to the IR in the “Oklahoma Drill”. One of those players was All Big-Ten inside linebacker Erik Lehnsherr who left a giant hole in the middle of the defense.
It didn’t take long for the coaching staff to plug Logan into the starting lineup and the rest was history. Wolverine used uncanny senses and reflexes to spring to the ball carrier and into the backfield relentlessly down after down. At just 5’3”, his short arms and reach worried scouts at the next level, but with his Adamantium skeletal structure and retractable claws, Wolverine showed the ability to keep all his opponents in arms length, and leave them with both mental and physical scars.
Even with such a fast and aggressive playing style coaches were amazed at his endurance never taking a play off for a quick breather, and his ability to quickly heal himself during the week so he’d never miss a game. Since being drafted, Wolverine continues to dominate the corridors of his team’s front-seven while staying highly active in the off-season training with elite groups such as the CIA, Canadian Army, S.H.I.E.L.D., X-Men, and the Avengers.
“Had anyone but the Cleveland Browns been picking who are known for passing up on great talent, he would’ve been the number one overall pick. I think he secretly likes playing with that chip on his shoulder,” NFC East Scout.
Weight: 167 pounds
Strength: Can lift 20 tons over head.. Nbd.
Peter Parker busted onto the scene at the regional combine where he wowed during speed and agility drills catching the eyes of coaches and scouts. It wasn’t until teams got him in for private workouts however, when things got truly “Amazing”.
With a short stature and thinned out frame, Parker started out as a free safety hoping to maximize his range in the backend, but coaches couldn’t help but to notice his special skill-set and outstanding instincts when put into man-coverage situations. Using microfiber hairs on his hands and feet, Parker glides with his receiver effortlessly staying step-for-step and often running the route for them.
As a true shutdown cornerback, Parker doesn’t get thrown to often, but when the ball is headed his way, he has an uncanny spidey-sense to recognize the play while it’s still developing. Parker is equally strong in the run game with elite awareness and recognition for tosses and sweeps to his side. While it may be banned after next year’s league meetings and rule changes, for now, he hasn’t missed a tackle thanks to his spiderweb reach stopping runners in their tracks.
“Teams still think they can take advantage of his lack of size on the outside and he continues to make them pay,” NFL Network’s Charles Davis
Free Safety: Batman
Weight: 210 pounds
Leg Press: 2500 pounds
With peak human and mental physical abilities having mastered every fighting style on Earth, Bruce Wayne is the heart and soul of his defense while proving to be everywhere all at once. Coming from a rough childhood and upbringing, Wayne lost his parents to a shooting in crime alley of Gotham, but with the help of his guardian and butler he put his focus onto football and the outcome has since been a story out of a comic book.
Notorious for putting anyone’s needs before his own, Wayne is a 14 time “Walter Payton Man of the Year” award winner thanks to his countless donations and hard work off the field and into his communities. However, once he steps onto the field Wayne turns into a true modern ninja at the safety position where he uses high-tech equipment and years of grueling martial art techniques to stun his opponents.
While he loves to get his mask dirty down in-the-box as a run stuffing safety, Batman’s skills are best maximized as a centerfielder in the backend of the defense where he uses his outstanding strategic and detective smarts (scored 50 on the Wonderlic test) for the game to lure his opponent into his defensive traps.
While he may disappear from time to time, rest assured when the coaches turn on the bat light no one’s getting past this last line of defense, because the Bat always has a plan A, B, all the way through Z as a master strategist.
“Besides one minor quip with Clark Kent he’s always bent over backwards for his teammates, fan base, and community by teaching through his actions,” Former Gotham High School Coach
Strong Safety: Iron Man
Height: 6’6” (with armor)
Weight: 425 pounds (with armor)
Fact: While playing quarterback in the CFL, Stark shot gunned a bottle of Fireball at halftime and rallied his team to a comeback win.
Since the beginning of the league there hasn’t been a player quite like Tony Stark who plays like a machine. With supersonic speeds of mach three, the ability to visualize the outcome of plays, players weaknesses, and the most efficient angle and route to the ball it’s never been about the talent with Stark. With his genius level intellect, coaches and teammates have questioned his true passion for the game itself.
While others are in the gym or buried in the playbook, the Iron Man is spending his time as a scientist, engineer, business entrepreneur, and philanthropist. With hall of fame numbers and production, no one can ever challenge his on the field talent, but his over the top parties and playboy lifestyle has made many wonder about his respect and honor for the game.
“As an evaluator you drool over the talent, but as a friend you wonder how long until he moves onto his next venture. That’s a lot of risk for my first-round pick,” AFC West General Manager
Player Comparison: Johnny Manziel
Didn’t Make Cut
All the physical talent but his me first attitude and unprincipled behavior make him a liability on and off the field.
Outstanding deception skills and hand technique that leaves opponents baffled and stunned however, rumors of hardcore gambling addictions and outstanding debts have put him in the NFL suspension protocol that has his career in serious jeopardy once again.
No man has ever had more heart for the game, which also happens to be his biggest weakness. Frank Castle is known for holding grudges and always finds a way to get his sweet revenge, which has gotten him kicked out of the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct as a repeated offender.
Follow Luke and Andrew Inman on Twitter: @Luke_Spinman @Inman26Inman