Flanker ~ ArDarius Stewart ~ Alabama Crimson Tide ~ 5112/204
Split Ends are usually the bigger, taller WideOuts who line up in the X Position, on the Line of Scrimmage.
SlotBacks are usually the quicker, smaller WideOuts who line up at the Y Position, off the Line.
FlankerBacks are usually the faster WideOuts who line up at the Z Position, off the Line.
The Split End prototype would be about 6030/225 or so.
The Flanker prototype would be about 6000/200 or so.
The SlotBack prototype would be about 5010/195 or so.
And I'm adding a 4th: The Slot End.
The term may make some Readers cringe, for the same reason that the term "Jumbo Shrimp" might.
And it's a term, as far as I know, entirely of my own Invention.
But it is of course the perfect Tactical term for a WideOut lined up in the Slot yet on the Line of Scrimmage.
And it strikes me as an excellent term to describe a WideOut who's not necessarily tall ~ like a Split End ~ not necessarily fast ~ like a FlankerBack ~ and not necessarily spry ~ like a SlotBack ~ and is often a bit Beefy. Not necessarily beefy enough to take on a Flex End's Blocking Responsibilites, but beefy enough for a Split End's.
I'm talking about WideOuts who're well suited to catch Balls in Traffic, and Move The Chains.
However a given Coach chooses to deploy the Soldiers at his disposal is of course entirely up to him, and most WideOuts will see Snaps at multiple Positions and in multiple Alignments, but I believe that it is valuable to categorize WideOuts in terms of classic Skill Sets, to better define the differences in the kind of Impact they might wield at the next level.
This is how I break things down when I'm evaluating all WideOuts:
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Combat Skills & Fluidity to beat Press, Acceleration out'f the Blocks, Fluidity and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Route Running Precision, the capacity to deceive Defenders, and Field Vision for Timing Seems and Open Zones. All other Aspects of a WideOut's Job Description are dwarfed by this one.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transit or Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Vertical Agility, Combat Skills, and Timing.
Yards After Catch are well and fine, but it seems to me that 90% of the Value of a Flex End and any WideOut is getting open and catching the Ball. Anyone who's read my Work extensively knows that I consider Blocking to be the Heart & Soul of FootBall, but that is a philosophical position, and I recognize that with most Philosophies, where it comes to Wide Receivers and Flex Ends...it's just Gravy. And so is Yards After Catch: Moving The Chains is What Wins.
Chunk Yardage: An highly overrated Aspect of the Game, I believe, so much so that in fact I didn't even include it in 2016. It is not a negligible Aspect of the Game, so I'm bringing it back, but getting open, catching the Ball, and Moving the Chains are far more crucial to a Team's Success, I believe, than making Splash Plays and getting on ESPN HighLights Reels. Power, Fluidity, Ricochet, Speed, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed/Field Vision all play into Chunk Yardage.
Blocking: It was a Mistake to leave this Aspect ~ my very favorite Aspect of FootBall ~ out'f 2016's Flex End Reports, and I'm very happy to correct that Mistake, evermore. Blocking of course comes down to Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor, and further breaks down into In Line Blocking and Open Field Blocking.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Separation: Mediocre, though with exceptional Potential, if he ever learns to run Routes.
I'd grade'm as competitive on Press Coverage: Impressive Combat Skills, though with deficient Core Power.
Athletically, he combines mediocre Fluidity with impressive Acceleration, equally impressive Ricochet out'f'is Breaks, and phenomenal Speed: he's not especially smooth, but his Cuts out'f'is Breaks are pretty sharp, and he's always a genuine Threat to tear the top off the Defense, which buys'm a lot of Cushion, which he could potentially exploit routinely, with ComeBacks, Curls, Digs, and Outs, but he rarely attempted any such Route on the Tape that I watched.
And when he did, he was deficient and occasionally horrific. He flashed a bit of Field Vision, here and there, and generally went where he was supposed to, but on other occasions, he exhibited not a lack but an utter blight of Field Vision and Processing Speed. There was one Play in particular, against Mississippi State, when Jalen Hurts appeared to've dramatically underthrown Stewart...except that when you watch the Replay, you see BullDog CenterFielder Jamoral Graham read Hurts's eyes and break for the Out Route that Hurt was clearly throwing...while Stewart blissfully kept speeding DownField on what he evidently thought was a Fade...and thus provided Graham an easy Pick.
Catch Point Capacity: Mediocre. I saw very few Transitional Catches, which seems to me to be testimony to Stewart's raw Route Running Skills, but he generally caught the Ball with'is Hands on Contested Catches. He planted a few FootBalls, but his Hands seems sufficient. His Tracking and Timing are pretty bad, though, as are his Combat Skills.
Chunk Yardage: Impressive, and potentially extraordinary, Stewart's Home Run Capacity is hobbled, it seems to me, both by a lack of Core Power and by lousy Processing Speed and Field Vision, but if he can develop these mental Aspects of the Game ~ he was mainly a WildCat QuarterBack in High School, so he's only been doing the WideOut thing for a few Years ~ then he's got the snappy Ricochet and the blistering Speed to become a devastating Weapon.
Blocking: Horrible. Horrifically weak Effort and lousy Combat Skills.
I'll admit it straight out: I tend to look at Zoomers skeptically, as it seems to me that a great number of them bring blistering, blazing Speed to the Field of Battle...and not much else. ArDarius Stewart, I believe, is a Classic Case.
If you need somebody to Run Like Hell and try to catch the Ball, he's your Man.
But for a Flanker to provide a genuinely reliable Long Ball Threat such as Stewart profiles to be, it seems to me that he's got to exhibit a far more advanced capacity at Tracking & Timing the Long Bombs than he does.
And even if he develops that capacity, I believe that his Route Running Repertoire ~ and his capacity to rapidly read Tactical LandScapes and anticipate Seems and Open Zones ~ needs to advance Light Years from where it seems to be.
Both of these things speak, of course, to Processing Speed, to Field Vision: to quickly decipher what one's Opponent is doing, and to instantaneously react decisively and effectively...and I see very little of that in Stewart's Game.
I am also not a very big Fan of Stewart's approach to Blocking. Mind you, I do not expect Flankers to unilaterally decimate Defenses with their bone-crushing Blocks...But rarely have I observed such persistent Indifference to Blocking. It was appalling, watching Play after Play get Blown Up by Defenders that Stewart was clearly responsible for.
For the Life of me, I'm astonished that Coach Nick Saban put up with it.
And I can't help but wonder: If Stewart can't even be bothered to exert himself for his Team when a Championship is on the line, can we really expect'm to suddenly become motivated once he Goes Pro and Gets Paid??
Does Stewart have 1st Round Talent? Absolutely. That Speed is magnificent.
But my Philosophical Formula for Trajectory ~ Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk ~ cuts both ways.
I would not presume to judge Stewart's Character, mind you. There is always more to ever Story than that which meets the eye, and sometimes much more: There may very well be good reasons for Stewart's horrible Blocking, his lack of Processing Speed and Field Vision, and what seems to be Indifference when he's not targeted.
But as it is, I can attest to no Evidence whatsoever that Stewart has either the FootBall Intelligence or the Drive to put in the Time & Training it'll take to develop his outstanding Skill Set and fulfill his enormous Potential.
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!!