Bandit ~ Derek Rivers ~ YoungsTown State Penguins ~ 6040/248
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:
Bandits ~ This is my term, derived from Defensive Schemes, for Players with the WingSpan for the Defensive Line yet who, unlike Dragons, lack the Size to play there regularly, because they can't be expected to Anchor against the Run.
They are thus the right Size though a bit tall to play MidFielder and can generally do so, but I believe are optimally employed as Wild Cards, deployed all over the Formation from Snap to Snap, usually in the murky, shifty region between the Defensive Line and the MidFielders, usually standing up, and generally giving no clue as to their Intentions.
I believe that the Bandit, whatever he's called in a given Formation, stands at the very EpiCenter of the disruptive Changes that Defensive Formations are undergoing today. Their unique combination of Size & Speed offers precisely that Wild Card Variable that I believe is potentially priceless for Defenses to compete and indeed to excel in the incessantly and rapidly evolving Strategic LandScape of the 21st Century. The Prototype would be around 6030/245 or so, I'd say.
As the ultimate Defensive Hybrid, Bandits could quite conceivably Rush the Passer, Blitz the Run, or Drop into Coverage on any given play, and from virtually any alignment on the Line or in the BackField. They won't anchor against the Run very effectively, they won't overwhelm with Power in their Pass Rush, and they're not built to Turn & Burn with WideOuts in Coverage, but they are in fact optimally built to conceivably compete effectively in all three Facets of the Game.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Bandits 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 Bandits, 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: Exceptional. You'll want to keep in mind, of course, that I'm grading'm not as a Dragon or as a MidFielder, but as a Hybrid of the two: A Player who should be consistently deployed close to or on the Line of Scrimmage, but generally Standing Up. Given those parameters, Rivers exhibits a terrific combination of Core Power and Torso Power, which translate into impressive Anchoring Strength against the Run and excellent Drive Power in'is Pass Rush.
Agility: Impressive. Impressive Launch Velocity. Adequate Fluidity. Outstanding Closing Speed.
Frame: Competitive. Adequate Height & Weight Combination. Decent WingSpan for a Bandit.
Combat Skills: Extraordinary. Outstanding Lateral Leverage, Paw Positioning, Paw Positioning, and FootWork. Excellent Pass Rushing Repertoire, especially considering the Competition. Magnificent Tackler.
Processing Speed: Mediocre. Inconsistent Speed & Precision when Reading & Reacting to the Tactical LandScape.
Motor: Outstanding. Tremendous Intensity, tremendous Stamina.
Run Defense: Exceptional and with tremendous Potential. Shaky Speed & Precision, diagnosing the Play, but he's got the Power to excel at the Point of Attack, and the Speed to excel In Pursuit. He just needs more Time & Training.
Pass Coverage: Raw but potentially exceptional. Virtually no Experience, but reportedly looked very comfortable during Senior Bowl Practice, and has plenty of Experience at Tight End, where he started in High School.
Pass Rush: Exceptional and with outstanding Potential. Rivers has the Speed, the Power, and the highly developed Combat Skills to be a Force in the Pass Rush, and is more refined than one might expect.
Speed. Power. Sketchy Field Vision. Stunning Combat Skills. Impact Player.
There it is!! His Processing Speed and Field Vision are raw, which is to be expected, coming out'f Division 37 YoungsTown State and all, but his Combat Skill are startlingly well developed, which is not to be expected, and his Core Power is stunningly strong, considering his Frame, which does not usually play to a Defender's Strength.
Bandits are a scary lot, what with most'f the League still unaware that they exist in the first place, and with the rest'f'm pretty much infantile in their Understanding of how to deploy'm to Advantage...And yet, given the optimal Situation ~ with a Defensive Coordinator who understands the Possibilities that a fully functional Bandit offers ~ a Prospect with Derek Rivers's Power, Speed, Combat Skills, and elevated Motor can make an enormous Impact in the NFL.
Bandits look awful when they get deployed badly, or when they get the wrong Match Up due to Tactical Circumstance...But all things considered, and taking the Body of Work as a Whole, Derek Rivers has the Power and Speed to become a tremendous Run Defender, an exceptional Pass Defender, and a Force in the Pass Rush...and he's exhibited the Intelligence and above all the Drive to be an awfully good Bet to make the most of that Potential.
Pay the Man!!
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!