Flanker ~ Devin Smith ~ Ohio State BuckEyes 6003/195
Split Ends are usually the bigger, taller WideOuts who line up in the X Position, on the Line of Scrimmage.
SlotBacks are usually the quicker, smaller WideOuts who line up at the Y Position, off the Line.
FlankerBacks are usually the faster WideOuts who line up at the Z Position, off the Line.
The Split End prototype would be about 6030/225 or so.
The Flanker prototype would be about 6000/200 or so.
The SlotBack prototype would be about 5010/195 or so.
However a given Coach chooses to deploy the Soldiers at his disposal is of course entirely up to him, and most WideOuts will see Snaps at multiple Positions and in multiple Alignments, but I believe that it is valuable to categorize WideOuts in terms of classic Skill Sets, to better define the differences in the kind of Impact they might wield at the next level.
This is how I break things down when I'm evaluating Split Ends, Flankers, and SlotBacks:
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Combat Skills & Fluidity to beat Press, Acceleration out'f the Blocks, Fluidity and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Route Running Precision, the capacity to deceive Defenders, and Field Vision for Timing Seems and Open Zones. All other Aspects of a WideOut's Job Description are dwarfed by this one.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transit or Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Vertical Agility, Combat Skills, and Timing.
Navigation: How well he Navigates the Field after the Catch: Power, Agility, Acceleration, Long Speed, and Field Vision.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Long Speed
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity: Magnificent. His Hands have improved to what I'll call a competitive level, and his Combat Skills are excellent, but what sets'm apart, in my eyes, are his extraordinary Vertical Agility and his sensational Tracking & Timing.
Navigation: Impressive. His Long Speed is extraordinary, so he's always a Threat to Go House, but his Fluidity & Ricochet are mediocre, so it seems to me that it's a matter of either taking it all the way or just taking what's there.
He's a fascinating Prospect: As a Deep Threat, he is flat out sensational. His extraordinary Long Speed, combined with his preposterous Tracking & Timing Talent, render'm arguably the deadliest Weapon emerging from this Draft.
Yet his Route Running Resume, from what I've perused, consists of all of two freaking Routes:
01 ~ Run Like Hell, and I'll throw you the Ball.
02 ~ I'll throw you the Ball, then Run Like Hell.
He's uh...gonna need some Work.
And therein, of course, lies the Gaping Gorge betwixt Ceiling and Floor: If he's no more than a Deep Threat Savant, I'd put'is Ranking at about the 4th/5th Round Range, at best...But if you believe that his reasonable UpSide is that of a complete, Route Rich Receiver who also happens to be a terrifying Weapon, then we're talking Top 10, here.
This is an Evaluation that has a very real Chance of a substantial adjustment between now and April, for this reason: There is so very damned little to go on, in attempting to resolve this Conundrum, that the Drills that Smith runs through between now and then may very well render a disproportionately huge Impact on my Perception of his Potential.
As it is today, this is what I have:
On the very few occasions during which Smith was asked to run in anything but a straight line, I perceived mediocre, perhaps competitive Fluidity and awful Ricochet. In fact, I didn't see'm break sharply one single time.
I cannot thus claim definitive knowledge of deficient Ricochet, but at the end of the day every single one of these Reports is heavily laced with Speculation and Extrapolation of Observation...So I am going to apply my considerable powers of Unfounded Speculation and extrapolate, based on far less Hard Evidence than I would prefer to possess, that Smith's Ricochet is deficient, and will hinder his capacity to perform sharp Breaks when he's running Routes.
That's what I saw. And my gut is telling me that my eyes weren't fooling me.
A mark against'm that I am far more certain of is that he's got precious little experience running a developed Route Tree. At best, this was simply neglect at Ohio State, and he'll respond effectively when asked to learn. At worst, this is a reflection that the BuckEyes had reason to believe he lacked the Agility to perform the requisite Breaks effectively.
Considering the caliber of Coaching at Champion Ohio State, it doesn't seem that the latter is unlikely: Indeed, it's difficult to believe that Urban Meyer and his Staff would waste such a Skill Set if they believed it useful. And when I consider that, combined with the stiffness I saw, I'm inclined to believe that Smith's Upside as a Route Runner is tenuous.
I will say this, though: A guy who displays such phenomenal Tracking & Timing Talent is a guy with an intrinsically tremendous Capacity to Rapidly Read & React to the Roiling, Boiling Tactical LandScape.
I'm talking about Processing Speed, and that translates to every Aspect of the Game.
And that gives me a pinprick of Doubt about my Evaluation. Hell, I'm never 100% sure. As The Immortal Katherine Hepburn once uttered in The PhilaDelphia Story: "The time to make up your mind about people is...never."
As such, rather than consign my Ranking of Smith to the 5th/6th Round Range, as I might've, I'm bumping it a click.
And as we delve deeper into the Prospecting Process over the next few months ~ Bowls & Combines and Drills and such ~ I'll hope to have my current Impression either supported or shattered, some point between now and April.
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!!