MidFielder ~ Duke Riley ~ Louisiana State Fighting Tigers ~ 6003/231
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:
MidFielders ~ This is in fact my collective term for all of what you Earthlings refer to as "LineBackers", a term that I consider moderately insulting to the Players in question. The reason I'm employing a collective term ~ at least for now ~ is that I believe that the Skill Sets for any of the 3 or 4 Jobs indicated therein are remarkably similar, though their Duties are certainly considerably divergent. The Prototype for any MidFielder would be about 6000/240 or thereabouts.
I don't consider Dragons that play what you Earthlings refer to as "OutSide LineBacker" in a 34 Defense to be MidFielders.
Dragons have a particular Skill Set and natural strengths which are divergent to those of MidFielders.
MidFielders, whether in a 434, a 335, a 425, a 245, or whatever you come up with, are natural Super Hybrids who can quite conceivably Rush the Passer, Drop into Coverage, and, above all, Defend against the Run.
When evaluating MidFielders, this is how I break things down:
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: Mediocre Anchoring Strength at The Point of Attack and mediocre Drive Power, navigating Traffic In Pursuit.
Agility: Magnificent, and in every regard: Launch Velocity, Fluidity, Acceleration, and Closing Speed.
Frame: Marginal. A bit on the light side ~ maybe two Bits ~ without much room to add much more, and a short WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Extraordinary, in every aspect: Paw Positioning, Lateral Leverage, Paw Persistence, and FootWork. Terrific Savvy and Skill as a Blitzer, as well, mixing Moves up nicely and synchronizing effectively.
Processing Speed: Tremendous, with phenomenal Potential. There're still a few wrinkles to iron out, but Riley reacted with remarkably rapid Speed & Precision for never having started before 2016, which bodes extremely well.
Motor: Consistently impressive Intensity and Stamina.
Run Defense: Exceptional and with excellent Potential. Mediocre at The Point of Attack, due to mediocre Power and a short WingSpan, but phenomenal In Pursuit, due to his incredible Fluidity, Speed, and Combat Skills.
Pass Coverage: Exceptional and with extraordinary Potential. Riley brings outstanding Fluidity and Speed and amazing Field Vision and Processing Speed to the Role. With Time & Training, he could be one of the best.
Pass Rush: Mediocre, but with exceptional Potential. His Power and WingSpan effectively put a cap on Riley's Pass Rush Potential, but his Fluidity, Savvy, Combat Skills, and Closing Speed render Impact Player Potential.
Riley's Game is stunningly well-developed for a 1st Year Starter, and that leaves me with no Doubt that he's spent all of his 4 Years in Louisiana busting his Ass to learn everything that he could about every nuance of the Game...and the results, those being outstanding Combat Skills and Field Vision, make it clear that he's got the Intelligence to benefit from his Years of Hard Work. Talent x Drive x Intelligence = Potential/Risk, and Riley delivers lofty Trajectory.
His Market Value, despite his Louisiana Tech Pedigree, appears to me to be hampered both by the general perception that his Resume is a bit thin, and by the archaic notion that MidFielders ~ "LineBackers", to you Earthlings ~ need to be enormous, despite this being the 21st Century and all, signifying the need for 21st Century Defenses.
Duke Riley isn't a guy who you necessarily want at The Point of Attack in The Running Game, but aside from that significant Liability, his Potential is absolutely stellar: He's got the Fluidity and Speed to develop into a Top Shelf Run Defender, an elite Pass Defender, and an Impact Player in the Pass Rush...and Drive and Intelligence to fulfill his 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!