As a skill position player, you are most likely looking for speed, agility, and explosiveness in your pair of cleats. Maybe it feels like every brand is telling you that their newest, most cutting-edge cleat is the most ridiculously, absurdly, obnoxiously fast and lightweight cleat available, but how could you know without simply trusting them as a retailer? As a football obsessed writer, I've scoured the world for the best skill position cleats for making plays on the gridiron and these are the top ten I've found.
No. 10 - Nike Vapor Pro TD
It’s a quick-cut, quick-turn player’s dream. The Nike Vapor Pro TD are built on a plastic outsole with a 12-cleat configuration that encourages explosive moves. At a reasonable price point, these cleats deliver stability, breathability, and comfort with season-long playmaking ability. Additionally, Nike’s signature PORON forefoot keeps these cleats lightweight for performance as well as comfortable on the field.
No. 9 - Adidas Filthy Quick Low
Adidas bleeds speed and that makes the Filthy Quick fantastic cleats for the skill position player. Designed with a molded QUICKFRAME plate, the Filthy Quick holds triangular as well as blade studs for incredible traction, speed, and explosiveness. The studs make you fast, but the forefoot overlay holds your foot in the right spot in the boot to keep you fast. If you’re aiming for a smooth and agile game, these cleats might be the ones for you, but don’t count out the next eight cleats.
No. 8 - Under Armour Nitro Icon Mid
With a 7-stud detachable TPU plate, this cleat is durable, stable, and comfortable. With less studs, it might be slightly less fast, but slightly you may lose in speed you gain exponentially in security. Through the UA CompFit collar for ankle support and engineered synthetics with nubuck to wrap the foot for a secure and comfortable fit, the Nitro is great for the skill position player who needs a little extra support all the time. This is a quick cleat, but the main benefit of the Nitro is the security, support, and comfort.
No. 7 - adiZero 5-Star 2.0 Low
Adidas snuck in all the latest performance technology into the adiZero 5-Star 2.0 Low-cuts. Made ridiculously lightweight these cleats use a SPRINTSKIN upper with a reinforced toe. SPRINTFRAME running chassis combined with a TZU support frame for stability allows these cleats to stay lightning fast, without leaving your foot vulnerable. One of the best assets these cleats provide is the TRAXION stud shape that helps boost speed and cuts in any direction.
No. 6 - Nike Alpha Pro TD Low
These are the playmakers cleats and any skill position player should be a playmaker. These cleats use Nike’s innovative Flywire technology that utilizes thin nylon fibers in the upper to hold the foot in the proper place to increase effectiveness of the studs below. Flywire allows these cleats to be super-lightweight because it only uses material where it is structurally needed. Flywire plus Phylon midsole plus Nike Zoom plus 12 bi-level cleats with heel talon equals an elite cleat for elite skill position players.
No. 5 - CJ81 Elite TD
If Calvin Johnson is the ultimate skill position player and he and Nike teamed up to create the ultimate cleat for him, I think you can safely assume that these cleats are going to be bad-ass. Whether you are a running back, wide receiver, or any other skill position player, the CJ81 is an excellent pick for you. Not only does it incorporate Flywire, but it also increases security and stability with the Dynamic Fit arch strapping system. Although this cleat looks like a full ¾ cut, in actuality the front collar is higher than the back to allow for a better and more natural fit. Great support, great speed, great cleat.
No. 4 - Under Armour Cam Low
Under Armour’s mission is to make all athletes better and these cleats are proof of that. With carbon “wings” your heel is secured and locked into place with lightweight and protective material to help stabilize your entire foot. Also the 4D foot-forming foam foot-bed provides comfort, stability, and customized fit. UA utilizes a carbon and Pebax 12-stud plate that is incredibly strong, light, and supportive. If you need explosion, a customized fit, and lightweight performance, the Cams are a safe, yet pricey bet.
No. 3 - Nike Zoom Vapor Carbon Fly 2
Another one of Nike’s Flywire cleats, the Zoom Vapors are as fast as they are gorgeous. This cleat is all about acceleration, burst, explosion, or whatever you want to call it. It’s getting fast, very quickly. These shoes come with a 12-stud carbon plate that is lightweight and extremely durable with sidewall fins for additional traction to accelerate any direction any time. Once you put on these low-profile cleats that use a Phylon midsole and Nike Zoom unit for ultra-responsive cushioning, you won’t want to use any other shoe on the gridiron.
No. 2 - Adidas Crazyquick Low
My personal favorite looking cleat doesn’t just get this ranking for its aesthetics, but rather for its lightweight performance. Using a QUICKSKIN that welds together SPRINTSKIN and SPRINTWEB that help increase comfort and support in areas of the foot where pressure builds when cutting. In addition to the QUICKSKIN, adidas implements the techfit bootie tongue that locks the foot down comfortably over the plate to keep your foot from slipping when making plays on the field. Adidas loves all-caps and continues that effort with the QUICKFRAME outsole that uses THREE (personal all-caps input) types of studs for toe-off, lateral, and stopping moves.
No. 1 - Nike Vapor Talon Elite Low
Good lord are these cleats fast. You can spend hours and hours designing the looks of these cleats with Nike iD, but the real magic is in the technology. With the innovative Hyperfuse upper, this cleat blends three different types of material to create a (nearly) seamless upper that oozes strength, stability, and breathability. The carbon-fiber midfoot shank combined with a Pebax 12-stud plate maintains this cleat’s durability even with its ridiculous lightness. If you have to dough to splash $180 on a personally designed version of these speedsters, go with another of the top 5 that are a bit less expensive.