Grizzly Tackle ~ Andrew Billings ~ Baylor Bears
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:
Grizzlies ~ This is my terminology for the larger, beefier Defensive Tackles, many of whom often see a lot of Snaps at Nose Tackle. Unlike Gorillas, they're not lengthy enough or fast enough for the classic Defensive End gig to be an optimal Deployment, but nowadays can be lined up anywhere. The Prototype'd be about 6015/325 or so.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Grizzlies 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 Grizzlies, 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 upper body strength in the world still fails if you can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables a Defensive Lineman to project Power in the Passing Game and to reject Power in the Running Game.
Agility: Launch Velocity, Acceleration, and above all: Fluidity or Core Agility. Core Agility 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 stiff and lumbering out there.
Combat Skills: Paw Power, Mechanics ~ Hand Speed & Positioning ~ and of course: Frame.
Intangibles: Processing Speed and Motor. Processing Speed or Diagnostic Velocity is about how quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to how the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape effects Blocking Schemes, and Motor is about Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed.
Pass Rush: Power, Agility, and Combat Skills.
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 in the Pass Rush.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Frame ~ Arms, Hands, and above all: WingSpan.
* Field Vision ~ Reacting to the Tactical LandScape: It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Offense.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Combat Skills
Agility: Impressive. As with Power, my Grade is probably far less lofty than that of most others, because my perception of Importance diverges dramatically with that of most Earthlings, as I attribute far more Success to Fluidity ~ and in the open Field, to Ricochet ~ than to Straight Line Speed. And as with Power, Billings's best Attributes are in areas that I don't emphasize: His Launch Velocity is excellent, and his Acceleration is tremendous, but his Fluidity is mediocre.
Combat Skills: Marginal. Mediocre Mechanics and a raw Pass Rushing Repertoire.
Intangibles: Adequate. Decent Motor. Decent Field Vision.
Run Defense: He's got the Potential to make a tremendous Impact. His mediocre Fluidity will limit his Range, but if he puts in the Time & Training to develop his Combat Skills, he could not only become exceptionally Stout at The Point of Attack, but, with his Speed and potential Power, he could make an enormous Impact as a BackField Disruptor.
Pass Rush: The yawning gap between what he is and what he could be is even more pronounced as a Pass Rusher. If he fails to develop a far more refined Pass Rush Repertoire, his lack of Fluidity or overwhelming Power will probably render him mediocre. On the other hand: If he does put in the Time & Training and gets good Coaching ~ and especially if he translates some more of that Intrinsic Power into Functional Power ~ he's got the Speed to become terrifying.
I am strongly disposed to view with great Scepticism those Prospects who exhibit greater Torso Power than Core Power, and greater Straight Line Speed than Fluidity...and Billings lights up my Radar in both regards.
And I compound those concerns with my perception that he brings mediocre Combat Skills and moderate Field Vision to the BattleField, all of which indicates that Billings, while no Slacker by any earthly definition of the word, has not as yet exhibited the relentless Passion and Drive that I look for...Nor does his Motor dissuade that perception.
With me, it's all about Trajectory: Talent + Intelligence + Drive = Success.
But with Billings, I am impressed by his Talent, but far less so than most, and feel no particular indication, one way or the other, about his Motor or his Intelligence. However, it's also important to note that he just turned 21 in March.
That changes the Math for me, a bit: Not only do I think it's fair to attenuate our Standards for how mentally developed a 21 Year Old should be, compared to a 22 or 23 Year old, but also how physically developed he should be.
Many Prospects have made Quantum Leaps in mental and physical Development in those Years.
Andrew Billings brings sensational Intrinsic Power to the Field of Battle, and is young enough that I consider it a genuinely viable Possibility that, with Time & Training, he could convert that into far more Functional Power than he currently does.
And while his mediocre Fluidity hinders him significantly, his Launch Velocity and Acceleration bring potentially tremendous Possibilities to both Run Defense and the Pass Rush, if he can develop the rest of his Game.
What it all adds up to, to me, is this: There is considerable Talent here, and while there's no particular reason to bet on'm making the most of it, neither is there any particular reason to bet against him failing to do so.
Ironically, Billings, who was generally expected to go in the 2nd Round or even the 1st, thus reflecting yet another dramatic Divergence between my perception and that of most of the rest of the World, ended up sliding to the 4th!!
Grateful Thanks, as always, for the crucial Work done by the folks at Draft BreakDown!!
None of this is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning!! Caveat Emptor!!