RazorBacks ~ 6012/266
Such is the case with Defensive Ends. NFL Defenses have become more'r less evenly divided between "43" Teams and "34" Teams. Far more importantly, though, the line between "43" and "34" is rapidly becoming a very fuzzy one.
Teams are increasingly going with Hybrid Theory Concepts, and the result is that many "Positions" are becoming Hybrids.
Defensive Ends are at the very crux of this changing LandScape. Traditional "34" Ends are just as likely to be employed as 3 Tech Tackles, traditional "43" Ends are just as likely to be deployed as "34" Flank Defenders ~ "OutSide LineBacker", to you Earthlings ~ and both are increasingly being asked to morph between Roles.
As such, I consider the old notion of pretending that these guys all go into one "Defensive End" Category to be silly.
And I also find the idea of sub-categorizing them as "34" Ends and "43" Ends, while a step in the right direction, to be ridiculously inadequate: It ignores the fact that half these guys won't even be deployed that way, and it ignores the fact that a rapidly increasing number of Defenses are going to ask them to morph between Roles.
Lion is going to be my term for the 280 Pound Plus Defensive Ends who could project to Tackle.
Dragon is going to be my term for the 270 Pounders or less.
Within the 270's or in any unusual cases, it'll be a Judgement Call.
Lions will get drafted either to play "34" End, "43" Tackle...or both.
Dragons will get drafted either to play "34" Flanker, "43" End...or both!!
I should also add that some Prospects generally considered to be Defensive Tackles will fall under my definition of a Lion. Indeed, the way the Strategic & Tactical LandScape is evolving these days, it is of course not uncommon for an erstwhile Tackle to get kicked out to Defensive End. But of course what each Coach does with his Personnel is his Business.
My Purpose here is to try to categorize Prospects by Type, and I believe that there is substantial difference between Prospects who could play both End and Tackle and Prospects whose Skills Sets suggest that they do.
These latter are genuine Hybrids ~ Lions ~ and it is my Hope that those of you who honor my Site with your Visits will find my efforts to distinguish the one type from the other ~ wrought with Peril though it be!! ~ to be useful to your Purposes.
When evaluating Dragons, these are the Attributes to which I pay most particular attention:
Power. Above all: Core Power. Upper body Strength 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 Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing Game. And those Players who invest the time and effort to develop superior Core Power are far likelier to enjoy sustained good Health and stay on the Field.
Agility. Lateral 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. Mechanics. Launch Velocity, Paw Power, and Technique.
Intangibles. Diagnostic Capacity, Processing Speed, and Motor. How effectively he masters Spatial Diagnostics & Angles, how rapidly he recognizes and implements Blocking Schemes based on changing Defensive Tactics, and of course: Drive. How badly he wants it. These are of course difficult things to assess, but it's crucial to at least try to.
Agility. Excellent Launch Velocity off the Snap. Tremendous Fluidity. Superior Lateral Agility.
Combat Skills. Raw and Inconsistent, but tremendous Paw Power and active, violent Hands.
Intangibles. Good Motor. Excellent Field Vision.
And if he isn't, he should be.
My Scouting Report on Christopher Smith is based entirely on the 2012 Tape.
If you focus exclusively on his 2013 Tape, while ignoring both the 2012 Tape and the Senior Bowl Practices, I believe you'll come to the conclusion that Christopher Smith possesses impressive Agility but dubious Core Power, that his Field Vision is suspect at best and probably deficient, and that he's generally a raw, mediocre, Late Round Prospect.
If on the other hand you make allowance for the fact that Coach Bret Bielema took the reigns in Arkansas in 2013, changed various Aspects of the Defense, and asked Smith to play far more Contain than he had previously, that bewildering 2013 Tape gains a far different Perspective: Smith was not only learning a new schematic language, which can slow down Processing Speed dramatically, he was playing away from his greatest Strength: His Launch Velocity.
And when I flipped things around and focused on Smith's 2012 Tape, I saw a tremendous Fusion of Core Power, Launch Velocity, Fluidity, and Field Vision. I saw a comfortable, confident Attacker, tearing after the QuarterBack, bulldozing Offensive Tackles into the QuarterBack, and finishing with exceptional Closing Speed.
He gave Greg Robinson an Hell of a time, let me tell you. Mind you: Robinson was far rawer in 2012, but still...
And the Senior Bowl confirmed all of that.
When Christopher Smith is allowed to play an aggressive, attacking brand of FootBall, he is a Force.
A raw Force, mind you: His Mechanics are pretty unrefined.
But there's loads of natural Talent, there.
Thanks, as always, to the extraordinary Work by the men of Draft BreakDown!!
Consensus Market Value