Lion End ~ AShawn Robinson ~ Alabama Crimson Tide ~ 6036/308
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 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: Marginal. Impressive Launch Velocity and exceptional Acceleration, but absolutely horrible Fluidity.
Combat Skills: Horrible. His Paw Speed is sluggish, his Paw Positioning is errant, and his Pass Rushing Repertoire is utterly, utterly barren. He's got an awesome WingSpan and enormous Paws, but just doesn't use'm.
Intangibles: Poor. Marginal Field Vision and deficient Motor.
Run Defense: Robinson could conceivably become competitive or better at The Point of Attack, but has a long ways to go, I think, to develop the Combat Skills to go with his vastly overrated yet salvageable Power. He's got the Acceleration to develop into a decent Pursuit Tackler, but his poor Field Vision and Motor and awful Fluidity hinder that.
Pass Rush: Awful. His Launch Velocity is his Ace, and I've graded guys with otherwise moderate Skill Sets very highly based on extraordinary Launch Velocity, because if can consistently get the jump on the guy in front of you, all it takes is a decent supportive set of Skills to render you Dangerous...But Robinson's impressive Launch Velocity is betrayed by mediocre Power, awful, FrankenStein-level Fluidity, horrible Combat Skills, and even his deficient Field Vision and Processing Speed, which have'm frequently late off the Snap, thus obviously obviating his Launch Velocity.
I especially hate to hate on a guy, though, because I love FootBall, I love FootBall Players, and I have tremendous Respect and indeed Admiration for these guys who've poured the thousands of Hours for Training and Development into this beautiful, brutal Game to develop their Skill Set to the point where I'm in a position to hate on'm.
I've criticized AShawn Robinson's Motor ~ and I'm not the only one ~ but all things are relative, oui?
If I tried to do half of what he routinely did on Saturdays in Tuscaloosa, I'd drop dead.
Having said all that...I have to say that I emphatically agree with Jon Ledyard of DraftWire, who, far more succinctly than I ever manage to put it, stated: "Robinson is the classic case of a highly-touted high school recruit whose lack of development was rendered unnoticeable by the overall strength of the unit on which he plays."
Prospecting is 1000% Extrapolation, so sometimes you're gonna miss by a Mile. Believe me: I have!! And this may prove yet to be another one of those times...But as I see it, Robinson's Power is vastly overrated, his Agility is horrible despite also being overrated because of his dazzling 40 Yard Time and legitimately impressive straight line Speed, and these poor, highly overrated Tools are crippled by a shaky Motor, poor Field Vision, and horrible Combat Skills.
It may seem preposterously arrogant to flout the views of the National FootBall League as an whole and the guys who make the Draft Decisions in particular, as Robinson was projected as a 1st/2nd Rounder and indeed went at #46...But these fellows screw up all the Time!! And it seems to me that they ~ and presumably their Talent Evaluators who just as presumably influence their Decisions ~ took a look at Robinson's 5 Star Recruit Pedigree, his place as a Starter on the hallowed Crimson Tide Defense, his dazzling 40 Time and a few HighLights...and saw what they wanted to see.
I...saw something else.
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!!