Dragon End ~ Derek Barnett ~ Tennessee Volunteers ~ 6030/259
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:
Dragons ~ This is my terminology for Players who may've played either Defensive End or what you Earthlings call "OutSide LineBacker" in College, and who in any case possess the Size to player either at the next level. They would generally be deployed as Ends in a 43 or as "OutSide LineBackers" in a 34, and have even been known to get deployed as Interior Rushers in the Nascar Package. The Prototype would generally be somewhere around 6050/265 or so.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Dragons 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.
Dragons in a 43 are Defensive Linemen, but Dragons in a 34, for instance, are off the Line and may be asked to drop into Pass Coverage from time to time, so that capacity ~ observed or inferred is going to be part of my Evaluations.
When evaluating Dragons, 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: Intensity and Stamina: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Coverage: Ditto.
Pass Rush: Double Dirty Dog 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: Effective Drive Power and effective Anchoring Strength.
* Update: Exceptional.
Agility: Effective. Mediocre Launch Velocity. Exceptional Fluidity. Mediocre Closing Speed.
* Update:Impressive. Impressive Closing Speed.
Frame: Effective: Excellent combination of Height & Weight for the Job. Marginal WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Tremendous. Really advanced in this Aspect of the Game. Terrific Command of Lateral Leverage, excellent Paw Positioning, exceptional Paw Persistence, outstanding FootWork. Can use his short WingSpan as a Strength, by working Inside ~ Out. Impressive Pass Rushing Repertoire. He's clearly put in a Ton of Time & Training.
Processing Speed: Competitive. Inconsistent. He often Reads & Reacts with Speed & Precision to Screens, Reverses, and Play Action, but he's often a Tick behind, and he overplays and vacates the Edge way too often.
* Update: Exceptional.
Motor: Effective. Impressive Intensity. Mediocre Stamina.
* Update: Exceptional.
Run Defense: Mediocre. Sufficient Power to stand up at The Point of Attack, but inconsistent reading the Play and undisciplined in Setting the Edge. Effective Motor but mediocre Range In Pursuit.
* Update: Excellent. Tremendous at The Point of Attack. Competitive In Pursuit.
Pass Coverage: Potentially effective. He dropped into Coverage occasionally at Tennessee. There's enough Agility there to develop into an effective Coverer, but he'll obviously need a lot more Time & Training.
Pass Rush: Impressive. Not much in the way of Power or Agility, and his shorter WingSpan is a Liability, but his outstanding Combat Skills will go a long way in enabling'm to Pressure the Pocket.
* Update: Impressive. Short WingSpan, but Plenty of Power, impressive Agility, tremendous Combat Skills.
I'm breaking out the Red Ink for this one, but before I do so, please allow me to say that I like this Kid. He'd previously been listed at about 267 or so, the Tape appeared to show just a little bit of Belly, and I noticed that he started off all 3 of his Campaigns at Tennessee really, really slowly, racking only 1 Sack in 12 combined Games before simply erupting at a historical pace for the last 8 Weeks or so...This combination of Factors gives me serious Doubts both about his Conditioning ~ an obviously critical element of assessing his Drive ~ and his Processing Speed, which appears inconsistent and choppy on Tape and in September Games in particular. But I like'm, just the same.
His Intensity, Snap to Snap, is impressive, but more important is the manifestation of Dedication ~ of Years of Tons of Time and Training ~ that is evident in his tremendous Combat Skills, which you don't develop overnight.
Even so...I went into this ready to love his Game, because I love his 6030/259 Frame despite his marginal WingSpan, and of course because he's rated so highly by the rest of the FootBall Universe...But even though his Resume is terrific, his having reaped historic Success against SEC Competition, I just don't see his current Game or his Potential coming anywhere near justifying the Market Value he currently enjoys. I strongly suspect that his SEC Pedigree and his lofty Statistics have driven his Stock far higher than his Prospects warrant, at least it currently stands.
Would I like'm on my Team? Yes. His outstanding Combat Skills, his Tape, and Testimony from Coaches all say that he's a Hard Worker. But I have questions about his Processing Speed and thus his capacity to translate what he learns on the ChalkBoard onto the Field of Battle with Speed and Precision, and I also believe that his mediocre Fluidity and Speed, combined with his shorter WingSpan, will measurably hinder his capacity to translate his Collegiate Pass Rushing Success to the NFL. I do believe that he'll very likely become an Impact Player as a Pass Rusher, but that that'll be manifested far more in Pressure than in actual Sacks, though Pressure is of course Production.
I believe that he's a good Prospect, is all, not a great one.
* Update: Yeah, I have absolutely no Idea what I was watching, before.
There's certainly no Doubt that I had my head up my Ass.
Mind you: I still believe that he's moderately OverRated, but I'm moving'm up a Round and a half.
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!