Lion End ~ DeForest Buckner ~ Oregon Ducks
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: Effective. As Height can be an hindrance for translating Intrinsic Power into Functional Power, so, too, can it hinder the effective Agility of a fundamentally agile Man in a World of comparative Lilliputians. Even so, Buckner manages comparatively adequate Launch Velocity and Acceleration and surprisingly impressive Fluidity.
Combat Skills: Impressive and with tremendous Potential. His Arms and Hands are his greatest Attributes, for his Arms are of tremendous Length and his Hands are simply gigantic, though his WingSpan is surprisingly mediocre because of his strong but narrow Torso. His Pass Rush Repertoire is competitive and his Persistence is impressive.
Intangibles: Impressive. Moderate Field Vision. Excellent Motor.
Run Defense: I'm far less sure that Buckner will be dominant at the Point of Attack than most, but if he plays most of his Snaps as a 5 Tech in an Odd Front, he has the Motor and the Agility to be effective in Pursuit, and if his Combat Skills continue to evolve, he could develop into a reasonably disruptive Force in the Enemy BackField.
Pass Rush: And of course BackField Disruption Potential translates into Pass Rush Potential, thus I believe that Buckner has Potential, there, though perhaps again not the dynamic level of Potential that is generally perceived. He's got the Length and enough Power and Agility to make an Impact, though, when he develops that Repertoire.
I spent far more Time on Buckner than I would've cared to, but I always have a few Prospects like that, every Year. I watched Draft BreakDown's Tape of his Michigan State Game and his Texas Christian Game several times each.
It's not unheard of, mind you, for a Prospect to look quite different from one week to the next. Indeed, it's not uncommon at all, as Injuries ~ sometimes reported, sometimes not ~ slow Players down, sometimes for a Week or two, sometimes, when recovering from an ACL or some other major malady, for an entire Season. So it doesn't usually flummox me when a Prospect looks like a SuperBeast in September and like Lunatic Fringe in November!!
Buckner, on the other hand, was all over the Grid.
But enough of my whining.
My impression of DeForest Buckner's Potential is that, like many tall, muscular Beasts, he looks a lot better standing there than he does once Battle is joined. That is not to imply that this is a Looks Like Tarzan/Plays Like Jane scenario, which always struck me as a bunch of Crap ~ and chauvinistic Crap, at that ~ in the first place.
It is plain to see, when one watches him play, that DeForest Buckner is a Beast in Heart as well as Body. But when one is 6 Foot 7, even if one is in phenomenal Condition as Buckner obviously is, one can only coil up so tight, and one can only effectively bring one's Power & Agility to bear on one's Foes, unless one is blessed with incredible Fluidity.
Mario Williams is the guy on my mind when I write this, and, to a lesser but supportive extent: Calais Campbell.
At the opposite end of the Spectrum: Margus Hunt.
Williams is blessed with ~ and developed ~ sensational natural Fluidity, which has enabled him not only to avoid allowing his 6 Foot 7 Frame to be a Liability, but indeed to render it a formidable Weapon.
I'm no Physics Professor, so I'm doubtlessly stumbling through this, but my central point is that great Height can be extremely impressive to look at, but is very often a Liability, unless the Athlete is extremely Fluid.
My Reasoning is that the Athlete's shorter Foes are naturally more compact: Their Arms and indeed their entire Frames are closer to their Center of Gravity and therefore dissipate considerably less of their Power in the Journey, as it were, from the beginning of the Punch to its contact with yon Foe: If you're trying to use a wooden board to lift a rock, and you have a choice between two board of equal thickness but different lengths, you go with the shorter board.
Likewise, in an Arm Wrestling Match, two equally matched Foes meeting at the center of the table would have a good Battle. But the very same Foes, should one guy be allowed to hold his hand right in front'f'is face, forcing the other guy to reach all the way across the table to Join Battle with'm, will have a very quick Battle, the latter's Power being almost entirely dissipated. Yeah, Geometry and Physics in general are not Strengths of mine. But you get my Gist.
Don't let me mislead you with this aside, though. I like Buckner's Prospects. But I don't believe that he's got the remarkable level of Fluidity that I believe it takes to enable'm to consistently effectively tap his intrinsic Power and Agility. Consequently, I conceive a competitive level of Power and Agility, far less formidable than is generally perceived.
His greatest Assets, as I see it, are his tremendous Arms, his colossal Hands, and his Motor, the last of which indicates that he'll put in the Time & Training to develop his Pass Rush Repertoire and thus make full use of his other Strengths.
I see his best Fit as an End in an Odd Front, where I like his Chances of developing into both an impressive and possibly formidable Run Defender, and an effective and likewise potentially formidable Pass Rusher.
In short: I like his Chances very much. I'm just not as high on'm as the rest of the FootBall World, is all.
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!!