Bear Tackle ~ Caleb Brantley ~ Florida Gators
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:
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 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. 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 lurching around like FrankenStein.
Frame: Vertical Leverage, Hands, Arm Length, and WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Horizontal 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: Endurance and Drive: 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: Phenomenal. Outstanding Torso Power. Tremendous Core Power. He can Anchor, and he can Drive.
Agility: Exceptional. Mediocre Fluidity and Acceleration, but Excellent Launch Velocity.
Frame: Marginal. He isn't quite Too Tall, but neither is he the Right Height to play Power Tackle or Speed Tackle, which'd be about 6006 or so, I'd say, for maximum Vertical Leverage. His Liabilities are his Small Hands and Short WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Tremendous. Terrific Paw Positioning and FootWork, and excellent Paw Persistence, when he's playing at a high level. Excellent Pass Rushing Repertoire, as well, and outstanding Lateral Leverage.
Processing Speed: Mediocre. He seems to read the Field quickly and effectively enough, but I gave'm a Mediocre Grade because he's a Serial Snap Count Jumper, racking up Miles of Penalties on OffSides Calls.
Motor: Mediocre. Intensity? Tremendous. Stamina? Horrific. He was deployed in a Rotation at Florida ~ very smart move by any Coach for any Front 6 Defenders!! ~ yet often got winded, at which point his Game would vaporize.
Run Defense: Exceptional and with tremendous Potential. Brantley's mediocre Fluidity and Acceleration render'm marginal In Pursuit, be he has the Power and has forged the Combat Skills to exterminate the Run Game at the Point of Attack. However, his WingSpan hampers him in both Aspects, and he needs to improve his Stamina.
Pass Rush: Impressive and with phenomenal Potential. By themselves, Brantley's combination of Power, Launch Velocity, and Combat Skills should translate into his becoming one of the most disruptive Power Tackles in the Game. The Problem is that his short WingSpan, small Hands, and mediocre Acceleration inhibit him from finishing Plays. That, however, does not precluded his consistently disrupting The Pocket, should his Conditioning improve.
Brantley is hindered by a combination of mediocre Acceleration and a marginal WingSpan, as a result of which he would probably rack up far more Disruption in the form of Hurries and Hits than actual Sacks. But Pressure = Production, to paraphrase Joshua Norris of RotoWorld and others, and the Player I've just described is a Pro Bowler.
The Problem of course is Brantley's Conditioning and thus his Endurance: they suck.
That in and of itself is of course an enormous Red Flag, the sort that tend to cause me to degrade a Prospect dramatically. Yet Brantley's Intensity, when he's fresh, is terrific. And the Work he's done in developing his Combat Skills speaks considerably better to his Work Ethic than his Conditioning does. However, his Intensity seems less consistent in the Running Game than in the Passing Game, and the combination of that, of his Field Vision not being nearly as well developed as his Combat Skills, and his tendency to jump Snaps cast Suspicion that he's a Glory Hound.
In EarthSpeak? I strongly suspect that Brantley's overly focused on Sacks, and less so on the rest of his Game, much less his Team's Goals. And given his lack of Sacks at Florida ~ which I believe translates accurately to the NFL for the above mentioned reasons ~ I wonder if the Value of Pressure will motivate him enough to consistently apply it?
I believe so. There is genuine Ferocity in this Man, so I'm inclined to believe that if he gets the right Coaching and the right Direction, he'll likely develop into the disruptive Pass Rushing Force and Stout Run Defender that he is capable of becoming. It's just that I'm far less sure of that than I'd like to be, and my Report will reflect that.
* Update: OK, I don't know what happened with that Lady that Brantley is alleged to've punched in the Face, but beside what it might say about his Character as a Man, it certainly casts Doubt, happening on the Eve of The Draft as it did, on his Professionalism and his Focus. Adding that to his highly questionable Decision Making on The Field of Battle and marginal level of Conditioning, we could be looking at a Top 10 Talent who's more Trouble that he's worth.
Ironically, I had'm as SemiOverRated in March when I first wrote this ~ I gave'm a 2nd/3rd Round Grade, then, compared to The Market's 2nd Round Grade ~ but with'is Market Value dropping all the way to #185, I believe that The Market has overreacted, and that a Talent of Brantley's Caliber ~ even being at best a JackAss ~ justifies an higher Pick.
Would I allow this Kid on my Team? Hell, no. But we don't know the whole Story, so I'm neither ready to condemn him, nor to condemn a Team that meets with'm and decides that they're willing to take a Chance on'm.
Grateful Thanks, as always, for the crucial Work done by the folks at Draft BreakDown!!
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!