Bandit ~ Leighton Vander Esch ~ Boise State Broncos ~ 6042/256
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:
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 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!!
Tackling: Thunderous Booms are all very well, but I'm more interested in form and efficiency!!
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: 50, but potentially 100!! Vander Esch is still acclimating to a Frame that he's beefed up considerably since High School, but his Power Numbers at The Combine were magnificent. Functional Power ~ and Functional Agility ~ I believe, is not only a matter of repetition and thus acclimation to one's Frame in and of itself, but particularly to doing so on the Field of Battle, and Vander Esch, having only one year's starting experience, is still undergoing that process.
Agility: 100. Explosive and outrageously serpentine.
Frame: 100. For most guys playing MidFielder at 6042/256 ~ which for most guys would'f course be an incredibly stupid thing to do precisely because of their Frame ~ I'd go with about a 20, which is pretty much as low as I grade anything, as all of these guys generally have some level of competence in all aspects of the Game, and a Frame at least approximating the shape of a FootBall Player...And I would grade it that low because a guy going 6042/256 and trying to cover the kind of ground that a MidFielder does is working at an outrageous disadvantage: Simply physics dictates that it's ridiculously unreasonable to expect a guy that big to be able to move spryly or quickly enough to have a prayer of success.
...But when the guy in question can not only match the agility of guys in the 6000/230-240 range but exceed it...That gigantic Frame ~ and all the weight behind it ~ becomes an enormous advantage...And his WingSpan is tremendous.
Combat Skills: 40. Pretty raw, in all regards, but improved substantially over the course of the season.
Processing Speed: 100. Even within the course of one campaign, his improvement was amazing.
Tackling: 60. Impressive Form and Efficiency and improving in all aspects.
Motor: 100. Red hot engine and relentless.
Run Defense: 80. Sensational Range, thanks to a magnificent Motor and to being astonishingly quick of body and ~ by the end of the campaign ~ of mind. His Tackling needs a lot of work, but if he cleans that up: 100.
Pass Coverage: 100. Incredibly spry for such a big guy, and mentally quick, as well. He was a star High School QuarterBack.
Pass Rush: 50, but with oceans of potential. His Acceleration and Fluidity are extraordinary, and his WingSpan is a huge asset, as well. If he develops his Intrinsic Power into Functional Power and also develops his Combat Skills, he could certainly develop into an enormous Pass Rush threat. Not only that, but the fact that he's got the Frame of a Dragon means that if he develops that Power as he very likely will, he can routinely be deployed near The Line or on it, which not only dramatically increases his schematic versatility, but renders him a genuine Pass Rush threat on any down.
Leighton Vander Esch has absolutely no business moving as spryly as he does in that enormous Frame.
He is the Bumble Bee of MidFielders ~ absolutely inexplicable.
He is a genuine 3 level threat...the only one in the Game.
Neither his Frame nor his Game are complete. The phenomenal Intrinsic Power that he displayed at The Combine has not yet translated into Functional Power, though it improved substantially over the course of his single season as a Starter, and should continue to do so with professional guidance. And his Combat Skills and Tackling need work.
But research, interviews, his record of achievement going back to High School ~ where he was a SuperStar on Championship teams in FootBall ~ as a QuarterBack!! ~ and BasketBall ~ and his spectacular improvement over the course of the 2017 unanimously paint a picture of a kid who simply boils over with Intelligence and Drive. Will he invest the Time and Training needed to develop his currently mediocre Combat Skills and Tackling into strengths, while developing his phenomenal Intrinsic Power into Functional Power? And will he prove to possess the considerable Intelligence needed to translate everything onto the Field of Battle, becoming the sensational GridIron Force that he is capable of being?
I'm counting on it.
Leighton Vander Esch? This is a kid you build your Defense around...and then you have a Defense like no other.
Pay the man.
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!!