What makes a great athlete, especially in the NFL? Is it the physical skills that one builds up to perform in their game? Or, is it the contribution or stats they compile by either breaking history or proving to be the best?
Or rather, is it how they transform their teams by their abilities and their determination to take them all the way? A great athletic player does all of that. They do not only change history for themselves but for the NFL.
It does not only take strength, stamina and control to be great; it also takes determination, willpower and passion. These are the athletes that push themselves beyond their physical limits to be the best that they can be.
So, who are eight of NFL’s most athletic players? Who are the players that have the passion to make themselves an athletic player in order to bring glory to their fans and the city they play for?
Clay Matthews was a huge part of the Packers’ Super Bowl win. He earns the spot of being an athletic player because he has the speed that most linebackers do not have.
He has committed himself to heavy workouts during the offseason to build up his performance level and stamina. His stamina proved worthwhile, as he is well known for his forced fumbles, tackles and sacks.
Matthews proves to be an influential defensive player for the Packers and the NFL.
Adrian Peterson has a highly aggressive running style that has lead him to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. He has recently reached the 6,000-yard milestone during the game against Tampa Bay.
He has strong durability in being able to play through his injuries. His speed, strength and agility have helped him develop into one of NFL’s best players. He can break tackles brought on by defensive players, which is often why the defense tries to build plays around him.
When Peterson gets the ball, he’ll stop at nothing to carry it as far as he can go.
As a return specialist and wide receiver, Devin Hester has proved he has the athletic abilities to perform in special teams and offense. Hester often spends the offseason working on his speed and strengthening his legs.
He has set the NFL record for most all-time kick and punt return for touchdowns at 11, after he had a 69-yard punt return for a TD against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 2.
Though first used as a decoy, Hester has grown throughout the years as a wide receiver, with the career stats of 175 receptions for 2,335 yards. Entering his sixth season, Hester has yet more NFL records to break.
This man is a beast. He is possibly the most dominating defensive tackle the league has seen and will see in years to come. There have been arguments on whether Ndamukog Suh is an aggressive or dirty player.
While Suh has a fearsome presence in the Lions’ defensive line, he has proven that he is relentless on the field. He brings the aggression that the Detroit Lions need. Dirty or not, Suh proves to be an athletic defensive tackle.
His athletic abilities prove not to be limited in his position as a tackler. His past experience playing midfielder allowed him to replace injured Lions kicker Jason Hanson in the 2010 game against the Jets.
Though it was a one-time situation and although he missed, Suh is still considered a backup kicker for the Detroit Lions.
If there was any man a quarterback should fear, it should be Ed Reed. For a few years, Reed has led the NFL record in interceptions and is the best in the league at baiting the quarterback.
He is considered the best safety in the NFL and is also the first person in NFL history to return an interception, punt, blocked punt and fumble for a touchdown.
He uses his innate athletic ability to influence the Ravens’ defense. While there is no doubt of Reed’s abilities, his smarts are what makes him so fearful. He spends hours studying his opponents and learning their tendencies.
He is big on forced fumbles, big hits and interceptions. Quarterbacks, watch your balls around him.
Willis is one of the top linebackers in the NFL. During the 2007 NFL Combine, Willis’s dash was one of the fastest among linebackers. In his past four seasons with the 49ers, Willis has averaged 149 tackles.
Though his number of tackles have decreased, it is not due to his performance but the offense who work their plays against him.
He’s tough, as is proven when he played with a cast in the 2010 game against San Diego. He has durability on and off the field. This player proves his athletic abilities as he continues to grow.
His nickname, Freak of Nature, explains it all. With his bulk frame, quickness, and flexibility, he has shown his freakish athleticism. With his quickness, he can keep up with the wide receivers, and his physical skills strongly aid him in overpowering the offensive line.
He is known for putting high pressure on the opposing quarterbacks shown through his ability to sack them. He is also known—more in Detroit rather than NFL—for the blindside sack that injured Matthew Stafford at the start of the 2010 season.
He has a career record of 91 sacks coming into Week 5 of this current season. He is also second-place in NFL history to have a record of 11 blocked kicks—punts and field goals—as of 2010. How is that for freaky?
Calvin Johnson is the heart and soul of the Detroit Lions. In the offseason this year, he has added five pounds to both his legs and arms. It has added to his power and flexibility to leap high over those defenders to catch the ball.
It has added to his speed to break down the line into the end zone. He has to be one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL. For Johnson, he doesn’t need words to prove them wrong, his actions speak for himself.
He has recently tied Cris Carter’s NFL record of four consecutive games with two touchdown passes, though he is the first player to do so in the first four games.
He is determined to win it all for Detroit. He has power and speed against his defenders and even when heavily guarded, Johnson’s hands still find their way to the ball.
No wonder he is called Megatron.