Dragon End ~ Duke Ejiofor ~ Wake Forest Demon Deacons ~ 6033/264
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 Rush: 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: 75. Exceptional Core Power and phenomenal Torso Power.
Agility: 75. Excellent Launch, Acceleration, and Closing Speed. Impressive Fluidity.
Frame: 100. Absolutely the perfect Height for Dragon, and a magnificent WingSpan.
Combat Skills: 80. Excellent in all aspects, especially Paw Velocity and FootWork.
Processing Speed: 33. Disciplined, but gets flimflammed way too often by offensive hornswoggling, getting drawn away from Runs that go right through where he started the Play. Needs to show more preemptive initiative.
Motor: 50. I've read some deliciously horrible things about Ejiofor's Motor, and I know where that's coming from, though my conclusions aren't nearly as damning, as you see. I've read that he's a "finesse" Rusher, and that's clearly the case: He doesn't employ his Power as a weapon, and that effectively leads a whole lot of talent on the table, which is bizarre, considering how much work he's invested, over the years, in developing that Power. However, while I have seen'm occasionally jog when he should run, he does play with plenty of Intensity and Stamina, most of the time.
Run Defense: 40. Potentially outstanding, if he puts the mental part of his Game together.
Pass Rush: 60. Same as above, except that his potential here is phenomenal.
Ceiling? SuperBeast!! Top 10. His combination of Power, Speed, and Length is sensational. He has the potential to become a strong, stout Run Defender and nothing less than a Hall of Fame Pass Rusher.
Floor? Reserve. 6th/7th Round, and routinely the most talented bum on many rosters until they finally give up on'm.
Risk/Reward Ratio? Sketchy, but with a real chance of success. Me, I'm not knocking the kid's Character, Intelligence, or Drive, but there are big questions about his passion for FootBall, and, thence, his FootBall Intelligence and Drive.
It takes so much time and dedication to transform one's natural Talent into consistent production on the Field of Battle...and I simply don't know if young Ejiofor loves FootBall enough to do all that work, or if he possesses the instincts to translate that work into consistent production...His marginal Field Vision and bewildering tendency to "finesse" his Pass Rush strongly suggest that he does not...And yet his well-developed Combat Skills strongly suggest the opposite.
I always try to remember that we're talking about very young men, here, that it is instinctive, when evaluating them, to stamp their characters with final grades...and that one should guard very heavily against doing so.
Duke Ejiofor certainly does not inspire me with confidence, mind you: There is a very strong chance that he simply doesn't have the passion ~ or the passion for FootBall ~ that it's going to take to develop his extraordinary natural talent.
But there's also a very real chance that he is simply developing on a different path, and needs only the right guidance and coaching in order to fulfill that enormous potential. Finding out is certainly worth an investment. Personally, I would've looked to draft'm on Day 3, just like Planet Hoosten did, but I'm a cheap, dirty bastard, and try to get rock bottom prices at every opportunity. So while I personally would've waited until then, I believe that you could've justified taking a swing at Ejiofor a lot earlier than they did, and that's how I like to grade Prospects: on defensible investment, as I see it.
Thank you so very much, Draft BreakDown, without whom my Work would be virtually impossible.
Please also note, Fellow FootBall Fiends: These CyberScouting Reports are not intended as predictions of success or failure, but as assessments ~ ludicrously amateurish assessments ~ of potential success. FootBall is a rough and often unfair business, and many a worthy Prospect has fallen far short of his potential, sometimes not because of his own failings, but because of those of coaching, scheme, timing...or because huge investments were made on other Prospects.
In other words: If any of my Super Dooper Deeper Sleepers ever fail to fulfill their vast potential, I’m confident that it goes without saying that it wasn’t their fault…or mine!!...Yes, I think that I'm being funny.
In other words: Caveat Emptor, Fellow FootBall Fiends!!
Enter at your own risk!!