Flanker ~ John Ross ~ Washington Huskies
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.
And I'm adding a 4th: The Slot End.
The term may make some Readers cringe, for the same reason that the term "Jumbo Shrimp" might.
And it's a term, as far as I know, entirely of my own Invention.
But it is of course the perfect Tactical term for a WideOut lined up in the Slot yet on the Line of Scrimmage.
And it strikes me as an excellent term to describe a WideOut who's not necessarily tall ~ like a Split End ~ not necessarily fast ~ like a FlankerBack ~ and not necessarily spry ~ like a SlotBack ~ and is often a bit Beefy. Not necessarily beefy enough to take on a Flex End's Blocking Responsibilites, but beefy enough for a Split End's.
I'm talking about WideOuts who're well suited to catch Balls in Traffic, and Move The Chains.
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 all WideOuts:
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.
Yards After Catch are well and fine, but it seems to me that 90% of the Value of a Flex End and any WideOut is getting open and catching the Ball. Anyone who's read my Work extensively knows that I consider Blocking to be the Heart & Soul of FootBall, but that is a philosophical position, and I recognize that with most Philosophies, where it comes to Wide Receivers and Flex Ends...it's just Gravy. And so is Yards After Catch: Moving The Chains is What Wins.
Chunk Yardage: An highly overrated Aspect of the Game, I believe, so much so that in fact I didn't even include it in 2016. It is not a negligible Aspect of the Game, so I'm bringing it back, but getting open, catching the Ball, and Moving the Chains are far more crucial to a Team's Success, I believe, than making Splash Plays and getting on ESPN HighLights Reels. Power, Fluidity, Ricochet, Speed, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed/Field Vision all play into Chunk Yardage.
Blocking: It was a Mistake to leave this Aspect ~ my very favorite Aspect of FootBall ~ out'f 2016's Flex End Reports, and I'm very happy to correct that Mistake, evermore. Blocking of course comes down to Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor, and further breaks down into In Line Blocking and Open Field Blocking.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Separation: Exceptional and potentially extraordinary.
John Ross started 2016 with a Resume that included a Route Repertoire of Run Like Hell and I'll Throw You The Ball and I'll Throw You The Ball and then Run Like Hell. You know: Bombs & Pitches near the Line of Scrimmage.
But while missing the entire 2015 Campaign due to a torn ACL, he evidently made very good use of'is Time. Those Routes continued to feature prominently in'is Repertoire, mind you, but he worked a number of Slants in, as well. Of course, the real Value is gonna be when he masters Curls & ComeBacks ~ perpetrating a Fade Route (Run Like Hell!!) but then cutting back towards the QuarterBack ~ because he's got the Speed to get Defensive Backs scurrying.
Oh, yes: about that Speed: Ross's Acceleration is impressive, his Ricochet out'f'is Breaks is exceptional, and his Fluidity is excellent ~ his Kick Off Returns against Rutgers and Washington State were simply beautiful ~ but his most dangerous Weapon is his magnificent Speed. When Ross gets tearing DownField, he is absolutely terrifying.
The Route Running has a long way to go, but I am highly confident that he'll get there, because his Processing Speed and Field Vision are tremendous, and seemed to improve considerably over the course of the 2016 Campaign. I've read implications that he was very, very raw previously, but by the end of the Year ~ Games against Arizona State, Washington State, and Colorado ~ he was consistently reading and reacting effectively to the Tactical LandScape, in terms of anticipating Seems in the Coverage, timing his Arrival, gearing up and down, and selling Routes deceptively.
Catch Point Capacity: Excellent. Impressive Combat Skills but mediocre Power on Contested Catches, but tremendous Timing, both In Transition and on Contested Catches, extraordinary Vertical Agility, and outstanding Hands.
Chunk Yardage: Phenomenal. Mediocre Power, but impressive Acceleration, excellent Fluidity, exceptional Ricochet out'f'is Breaks, and blistering Speed. I value 40 Times far less than most, but I can't wait to see Ross's.
Blocking: Sufficient. Mediocre Power, but impressive Combat Skills. Adequate Effort.
I generally detest the Prospects of Prospects whose Game consists of ~ and I do repeat ~ a Route Repertoire of Run Like Hell and I'll Throw You The Ball and I'll Throw You The Ball and then Run Like Hell. You know: Bombs & Pitches near the Line of Scrimmage. These 2 Trick Ponies tend to possess Blazing Speed that drives their Market Values into the Stratosphere ~ as Ross's has been driven!! ~ yet have of course dangerously undeveloped Games.
They are the equivalent of the strong-armed QuarterBack who's been getting by on his FirePower for Years, and has consequently neglected to develop the rest'f'is Game...with often disastrous Results.
A WideOut with such a tiny Routing Repertoire is not going to survive in the NFL, much less thrive, be'is Speed ever so blazing, because there are simply too many ways to counteract it, if you know it's coming.
However, Routes can obviously be taught to a Student who is both Willing and Able ~ one with Drive and Intelligence. And Ross's development in 2016 wiped out any Concern I might've had about either his having either the Drive to study and train on different Routes, or the Intelligence to apply what he's learned at Full Speed on the Field of Battle.
He's certainly not anywhere near as ready to step into a starting lineup as, say, Michael Williams of Alabama, who's been developing his Routing Repertoire for Years, but he's illustrated that all you gotta do is give'm the Time & Training.
My philosophical Trajectory Formula goes: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk. With most Draft Evaluators with enough sense to value Routing, Ross's raw Routing Repertoire would translate into High Risk.
As I see it, John Ross ~ who spoke in October about missing 2015 to the ACL Injury appreciatively ~ brings a combination of awesome Talent and loads of Intelligence and Drive: High Reward & Low Risk, Ladies and Laddies.
* Yeah, I'm pretty close to flat out prejudiced against Top Speed Zoomers like Ross, because it seems to me that the great majority of them neglect the rest'f their Game and rely on that Speed...But John Ross is very different.
He's a bit psychotic, though. As a pure Prospect, I give'm a SuperBeast Rank, as I once did, Odell Beckham, when the latter was tracking as a 2nd Rounder, the Autumn before the 2014 Draft, but my Spidey Sense is telling me that he's gonna be Trouble. Caveat Emptor...But I am gonna bump'm from Beast to SuperBeast. This is a Highly Motivated Kid.
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!!