Flex End ~ Austin Hooper ~ Stanford Cardinal 6036/255
The Prototype would be about 6050/260 or so.
The "Tight Ends" whose Frames are better suited to be deployed in running Routes from all over the Formation, and who aren't especially renowned for their Blocking ~ though many are adept Chippers ~ I refer to as Flex Ends.
The Prototype would be about 6030/245 or so.
Those of either type who present legitimate Dual Threats ~ who can make a genuine Impact either as a Blocker or as a Receiver ~ are impossible to predict from Snap to Snap, and this renders them extraordinarily dangerous.
Conceivably even more dangerous and dynamic than either of these two types is one of my pet Positions: The WingBacks. I employ this ancient FootBall Term, one still in active use in many High Schools and Colleges, to refer to a Role so ethereal as to be almost imaginary: an Hybrid FullBack & Flex End ~ a Super Hybrid, if you will.
The Prototyped would be about 6000/250 or so.
The WingBack, optimally, would be a guy capable of Lead Blocking in the Run Game, Pass Blocking in the Passing Game, or splitting out and running Pass Patterns from SlotBack, Slot End, Split End, or Flanker. He could line up at any of those spots, or on either Wing, on the Line, or in the BackField. He could even go In Motion or run the Ball!!
Such a versatile, dynamic Player could have an explosive Impact on the Competitive LandScape.
The Game has reached a point in its Tactical History that is perfect for such a Player.
It awaits only for the NFL to realize the Opportunity.
Because Flex Ends operate as an Hybrid's Hybrid ~ part Tight End and part WideOut, with Blocking ~ the occasional Chip ~ being but a tertiary part of their Game ~ I break down their Attributes pretty much like I would those of a WideOut:
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.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
Catch Point Capacity: Impressive. There's been a lot of noise about all his Drops, ere the last 2 Seasons, but his Combat Skills are excellent at the Catch Point, and despite a few Drops, his Focus and Tracking & Timing are adept.
Blocking Bonus: He's got some Potential as a Blocker, too. Mind you, his Core Power is mediocre and his Mechanics are raw, but his Motor is impressive, and he's got a compact, meaty Frame that his isn't afraid to use.
I would probably go with more "balanced", as I'm not as high on Hooper as Zierlein or the rest of The Market, but the point is well made: At 6036 and with an unremarkable WingSpan, I don't believe that Hooper projects optimally as a classic Tight End, but at 255 Pounds he's certainly got the beef and the compact Frame to compete there.
Indeed, if he were a couple inches shorter, he'd be a WingBack.
I like Hooper but don't see the same oodles of Talent there that others see. I consider him far less athletic than most seem to ~ indeed, he often seemed to me lumbering and stiff in his Routes. The 40 Speed is all well and good, but he's slow out'f the Blocks despite an impressive 10 Yard Time and redirects in Traffic almost awkwardly.
I believe that except for the occasional Splash Play against Blown Coverage he's going to have serious Problems getting open consistently against quality Coverage. And while I like him at the Catch Point, he needs to get there, first.
I do see Hooper potentially providing Value as a guy who can compete as a Flex Blocker and occasionally get open for a Catch, but I believe that his Skill Set, while balanced, is nevertheless that of a Reserve.
Yeah, I do believe that, what with the NFL's ravenous appetite for Flex Ends, the Law of Supply & Demand and the Pedigree of an esteemed College ~ and Stanford has been cranking out Flex Ends like made, these last few Seasons!! ~ have conspired to drive a Prospect's Stock far and away above and beyond its Intrinsic Value!!
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!!