When the NFL was in its infancy, sheer power and strength were key to individual success in the league. Former Cleveland Browns RB Jim Brown, who played from 1957 to 1965, heavily relied on strength to get through defenders, not around them.
However, the NFL entered an overwhelmingly slow transition that shifted from strength dominance to explosive speed.
Now, speedy players are often overdrafted because scouts extensively exalt over this prime trait, which is now abundant among draft prospects.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III (drafted second overall by the Washington Redskins) had scouts and coaches drool over his mouthwatering speed. He was a pinpoint accurate quarterback, but was also blazingly fast. He even holds the record for the scouting combine’s fastest 40-yard dash time for a quarterback.
The transition has completely evolved the quarterback position. Signal callers are running more and more often, frequently opening up the option game and the aerial attack.
Nike Football, the NFL’s new uniform supplier, even declared, “Speed is the new strength.”
Speed has also paved the way to record-setting success. Last season, New Orleans Saints RB Darren Sproles—AKA the “Lightning Bug”—helped QB Drew Brees set the single-season passing yard record. The signal caller would end up being crowned PFGMVP2012.
Explosive speed will set a consistent tone in the NFL and will trickle down through every single level of football.