Bandit ~ DeVondre Campbell ~ Minnesota
Golden Gophers ~ 6036/231
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 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, Navigating Traffic, Processing Speed, Motor, and Tackling.
Pass Coverage: Agility, Processing Speed, and Catch Point Capacity.
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
* Navigating Traffic
* Processing Speed
* Processing Speed
* Processing Speed
* Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
Agility: Exceptional. Moderate Fluidity but excellent Speed.
Combat Skills: Competitive. Adequate WingSpan and Mechanics. Impressive Motor.
Intangibles: Marginal...yet with excellent Potential. That's pretty much an unheard of "Spread" in my Hundreds of Scouting Reports over the Years, I realize, but I can explain it: Campbell is very much like me. That of course signifies astonishing Beauty and Intelligence, but it also signifies sluggish Processing Speed, which can be fatal on the Field of Battle. Yet Campbell is extraordinarily Self Aware...and extraordinarily Driven. I would bet a pile of Capital on his improving his Processing Speed dramatically. Every once in a while, a Prospect simply gets it. Campbell is that Prospect.
Run Defense: Marginal, prospectively Mediocre, at The Point of Attack but potentially excellent Range.
Pass Coverage: Still pretty raw, but with the Agility and potential Field Vision to excel.
Pass Rush: Raw as Steak Tartar, but with considerable untapped Agility.
And DeVondre Campbell's FootBall Career certainly has the Potential to meet such a Fate.
But I'm placing my Chips on'm. Bandit is a very tempestuous Skill Set. Most Writers are as yet oblivious to its existence, and many Coaches ~ probably most ~ reject the concept all together or at best are still acclimating themselves to the emerging Impact that these Hybrid offer...and are consequently far likelier than they ought to be to cut'm.
And Campbell is not a Quick Study...so his Chances of Washing Out are high.
But if I were ranking and grading Prospects on their Intrinsic Value, as opposed to what Popular History is likely to reflect, based on the Ignorance and Incompetence of others ~ and I am ~ then I would say that he's still pretty damned Raw, but that he oozes Intelligence and Drive, that he's got plenty of Agility and Speed, and that if someone is smart enough to invest a few Years of Time & Training in'm, they'd have a very strong Chance of developing a competitive Pass Rusher, a competitive Pass Defender, and a Run Defender mediocre at The Point of Attack but with excellent Range.
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!!