Lion End ~ Bilal Nichols ~ Delaware Blue Hens
Old Roles are getting dramatically transformed, and virtually every Front 7 ~ or Front 6!! ~ Defensive Job Description is transitioning into an Hybrid Role where the Defender is asked to excel in multiple Roles and in multiple Fronts.
For that reason, and in order to offer NomenClature that speaks not to archaic, obsolete "Positions", but rather to Skill Sets that accurately reflect the dynamic Changes of the 21st Century Game and the Roles they have spawned, I have undertaken to craft Terminology that is designed to break Skill Sets down as they really are.
Defensive Coordinators have, since Time Immemorial, employed highly creative terminology in devising Defenses and in designating Assignments. In that Spirit, I have admittedly indulged myself considerably in devising the following NomenClature. It is undeniably colorful, but I like to think that there's an underlying Logic, as well:
Lions ~ This is my term for Defensive Linemen with the Size of a smaller and faster Defensive Tackle and the WingSpan of a Defensive End. Like the Grizzlies, they can line up at End in a 34 or at Tackle in a 43, or just about anywhere in either Formation, and conceivably play either 1 Gap or 2 Gap. The Prototype would be about 6050/300 or less.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Lions may often or even routinely line up anywhere, on any given Down. My only purpose is simply to identify what I perceive as Skill Sets, to distinguish types, if you will, and perhaps create a universal Point of Reference.
When evaluating Lions, this is how I break down the Attributes to which I pay most particular attention:
Power: Above all: Core Power. Torso Power is important, but Core Power, from the Knees to the Ribs, is absolutely crucial. All the Torso Power in the world will still fail if you simply can't dig in your Heels. But Core Power enables an Offensive Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing Game.
Agility: Launch Velocity, Acceleration, and, above all: Fluidity or Core Agility, which, I believe, is even more essential to sustained good Health ~ and to sustained good FootBall ~ than Core Power. The ability to react with Serpentine smoothness is a tremendous Asset in all Aspects of the Game, and certainly in the Hand to Hand Combat that characterizes Trench Warfare. All the Power in the World goes only so far if you're lurching around like FrankenStein.
Frame: Vertical Leverage, Hands, Arm Length, and WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Vertical Leverage, Paw Positioning, Paw Persistence, and FootWork. Above all: Pass Rush Repertoire.
Processing Speed: How quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape!!
Motor: Intensity and Stamina: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Rush: Ditto.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Core Power ~ lower body Power. Core Power trumps Torso Power. Tyrannosaurus Rex had exceptional Core Power.
* Torso Power ~ upper Body Power. Important, but not crucial. T Rex had lousy Torso Power...yet was King.
* Anchoring Strength against the Run.
* Drive Power, Rushing the Passer.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Vertical Leverage. Height is crucial, but it's actually better, I believe, to be an Inch shorter than an Inch Taller.
* Hands. The larger the better, generally, but compact is never a bad Attribute in The Trenches.
* Arm Length. Absolutely crucial. He who boasts the longer Arms initiates Combat.
* WingSpan. Arm Length + Torso Width. A more complete Measurement.
* Lateral Leverage. Angles. Getting Square or better with the Target.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Pass Rush Repertoire: Variety.
* Reading & Reacting to Offensive Blocking Schemes with Speed & Precision.
* Field Vision: Finding Targets & approaching them effectively.
Power: 60, with upside Potential to 70 or 80. Nichols has dealt with the multiple disadvantages of acclimating to a relatively new position ~ Nose Tackle ~ of playing out of position ~ he doesn't profile as a Nose Tackle ~ of playing multiple positions, and of acclimating to enormous and rapid weight gain over the last 4 years.
As such, I'm grading his current Power through a Lion's prism, not a Bear's, and speculating that it may very well improve considerably over the next couple of years as he acclimates. He's well conditioned, but his lack of Core Agility is compromising his Functional Power as well as his Agility. This is a common problem with Prospects who've been intensively gaining muscle mass and neglecting flexibility training. Hopefully, he will address that.
Agility: 60. Mediocre Fluidity, but impressive Launch Velocity and excellent Acceleration.
Frame: 75. Very good Height for the hybrid role, and an excellent WingSpan.
Combat Skills: 33. Very raw in all aspects.
Processing Speed: 33. Flashes brilliance, but all the changes and all the complexities of the last several years appear to've scrambled his brains. This will probably improve considerably as he settles in.
Motor: 90. I actually read disparaging reports on'is Motor, but my impression was very different. I perceive outstanding Intensity and extraordinary Stamina. I suspect that others saw confusion and mistook it for apathy.
Run Defense: 55, with tremendous Potential. Impressive at the Point of Attack. Competitive in Pursuit. If his Power develops as I expect it to, he could become outstanding at the Point of Attack, if his Combat Skills also develop, likewise, if his Processing Speed and Field Vision develop, his Motor and Speed will transform his Range.
Pass Rush: 40, but with excellent Potential. He has no Pass Rush Repertoire, but there is raw Power and straight line Speed aplenty to work with, so if can develop those Combat Skills, he could be an Impact Player.
Ceiling? Beast. 1st/2nd Round. He's got a long ways to go, but Nichols has the raw and still developing Power, the Length, and the straight line Speed to become an terrific Pass Rusher, if he can develop a Pass Rushing Repertoire. And if he can develop his Field Vision while he's at it, his Motor and Speed could quite realistically translate into exceptional Range in Pursuit as a Run Defender, while his developing Power offers tremendous Potential at the Point of Attack.
Floor? Reserve. 6th/7th Round. Even so, so raw are his Combat Skills and Field Vision that it'd be very hard to justify giving him any Snaps at all at this point. He's got a long way to go, and could quite realistically wash out.
Risk/Reward Ratio? Favorable. Neither his Combat Skills nor his Field Vision cast a favorable light on his Intelligence or Drive, but his Intensity, Stamina, and Conditioning do so emphatically...And my Spidey Sense is going with that.
The Intelligence ~ specifically, the FootBall Intelligence that'll enable'm to translate what he learns well enough that it becomes instantaneously instinctive ~ is very much in doubt, mind you, but not the Drive.
He'll do the work. Of that, I am confident. I am by no means certain that he's got the FootBall Intelligence to become All That He Can Be, but if some team had drafted'm as early at the 3rd Round, I wouldn't've faulted them.
Thank you so very much, Draft BreakDown, without whom my Work would be virtually impossible.
Please also note, Fellow FootBall Fiends: These CyberScouting Reports are not intended as predictions of success or failure, but as assessments ~ ludicrously amateurish assessments ~ of potential success. FootBall is a rough and often unfair business, and many a worthy Prospect has fallen far short of his potential, sometimes not because of his own failings, but because of those of coaching, scheme, timing...or because huge investments were made on other Prospects.
In other words: If any of my Super Dooper Deeper Sleepers ever fail to fulfill their vast potential, I’m confident that it goes without saying that it wasn’t their fault…or mine!!...Yes, I think that I'm being funny.
In other words: Caveat Emptor, Fellow FootBall Fiends!!
Enter at your own risk!!