In the NFL, every one is fast. Rob Gronkowski, an enormous tight end who looks like he should be slogging through mud, is fast. Ndamukong Suh, a whale of a defensive lineman, will speed by your offensive linemen in a blink of an eye. "Slow" is no longer a word associated with athletes in the National Football League, unless you're talking about Peyton Manning attempting to escape the pocket.
With speed the one constant on every player's mind, Nike's new line of cleats is focused on giving it to them no matter their size.
"We feel we're delivering speed at every level and every position," said Ken Link, Nike's lead designer on the project. "Each one is a new innovation around tackling speed for the athlete."
The first, the Nike Vapor Untouchable, is Nike's first cleat to use Flyknit. Designed for vertical speed with guys like Richard Sherman, Odell Beckham Jr. and others who need to streak down field off the line, the Untouchable has what Nike calls a Carbon V-Propulsion system that turns its traction into acceleration.
The second, the CJ Elite TD, the latest iteration in Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson's signature cleat, is for that hybrid style of player, a bigger, thicker player who still possesses the speed to beat you on the outside. Someone like Gronkowski, Johnson or Luke Kuechly. Featuring an upper made from a brand new technology, Flyweave, the CJ Elite aims to make its wearer forget its even there.
"Extreme athletes have extreme needs, and it's all based around the idea that 'I want to be the fastest at my position,'" said Link, who admits it was a challenge creating a cleat that gave support but was also super light. "We want the athlete to forget about their cleat and get rid of all sensation to where they can just play."
And third, the LunarBeast Elite, is built for the titans of the field, like Suh, who needs a quick first step in his attempts to devour the quarterback, or block the man trying to do it. The cleats' Flywire keeps the athlete's foot locked down as he accelerates forward, while the shoe's plate provides a powerful type of traction so he can win the battle in the trenches.
All three cleats will be available on April 28 via nike.com.