SpeedBack ~ Marlon Mack ~ South Florida Bulls
I've come to believe that any HalfBack that doesn't bring a Passing Game element to the BattleField is...incomplete.
Hence, the term "FlexBack" ~ although quite cool, I believe!! ~ short-circuits the Evaluation Process.
As to how I break them down, I expect that the terms are pretty self-explanatory:
PowerBacks ~ HalfBacks who do their best Work between the Tackles..
SpeedBacks ~ HalfBacks who do their best Work outside the Tackles.
The PowerBack prototype would be about 5115/220 or so.
The SpeedBack prototype would be about 5010/200 or so.
Those are gross oversimplifications, of course, and many HalfBacks will manifest Attributes of both styles. Indeed, Power and Speed ~ better yet: Agility ~ are crucial to the Success of either kind of HalfBack. But I believe that it advances the discussion and better serves my Fellow FootBall Fanatics if I make an effort to distinguish between types.
This is how I break things down, when evaluating all HalfBacks:
Power: Above all: Core Power. Upper body Power is important, but lower body Power, from the Knees to the Ribs, is absolutely crucial. An HalfBack's Capacity to break Tackles is more about Core Power than anything else.
Agility: Launch Velocity, Fluidity, Acceleration, and Ricochet. Long Speed is all well and good, but at the end of the day, it is Gravy. What wins Championships is Moving The Chains. And Moving The Chains is accomplished far more consistently by the guys who exhibit the Agility ~ and the Focus ~ to consistently pick up 5 and sometimes 10 Yards at a time.
Processing Speed: Diagnostic Velocity. Field Vision. That ethereal Capacity to Rapidly Read & React to the Rapidly Roiling & Boiling Tactical LandScape...and to foresee and envision Lanes developing before they actually do.
Blocking: Having an HalfBack who doesn't Block effectively is like having 10 Men on the Field of Battle. Most HalfBacks just coming out'f College are mediocre Blockers, but this is a crucial Aspect of the Game that they'll need to master.
Receiving: Whether he be a PowerBack or a SpeedBack, an HalfBack that can effectively present a genuine Threat in the Passing Game dramatically increases his Team's Options on any given Play. The more dynamic the Threat, the more valuable to'is Team on the Field of Battle, whether he's just slipping out'f the BackField or splitting out Wide.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Core Power is most of it. Tyrannosaurus Rex would've made an Hell of an HalfBack.
* Torso Power doesn't hurt, though.
* Launch Velocity
* Long Speed
* That ethereal Capacity to foresee and envision Lanes developing before they actually do.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Catch Point Capacity
Power: Mediocre. Very little Anchoring Strength or Drive Power in Pass Protection or Run Blocking, yet impressive Anchoring Strength against Arm Tacklers, though not much Drive Power, mind you.
Agility: Phenomenal. Tremendous Acceleration through the Hole, impressive Speed DownField, outstanding Ricochet out'f'is Cuts, and absolutely magnificent, serpentine Fluidity. Mack is Quick, Slick, and Explosive!!
Field Vision: Excellent. At first glance, he seems mediocre at Synchronizing his Timing with his Linemen ~ way too often bailing on Inside Draws and kicking it Outside. The Truth, though, is that the Bulls Interior Lineman were consistently struggling to open up Holes. And he's tremendous at Reading & Reacting to Traffic quickly and effectively.
* Update: Mediocre. I've subsequently read Accusations that he Bounces It Outside too often, and Upon Further Review, I gotta sat that I believe that they're absolutely right. And that is a major Red Flag in my Book.
Blocking: Marginal. Decent Motor, but poor Anchoring Strength and Drive Power and awful Combat Skills.
Receiving: Marginal, though with exceptional Potential. Poor Hands, and he rarely ran real Routes, just slipping out and sitting there, awaiting the FootBall. So he's extremely raw at Route Running and navigating Traffic. However his combination of Field Vision and JitterBug Agility translate to tremendous After The Catch Potential.
DeMerit: Poor Ball Security.
Yet his Blocking is poor and his Receiving Game is raw ~ neither of which are unusual among HalfBack Prospects, mind you ~ and, far more troubling, his Hands are very poor, both at catching the Ball and at holding onto it.
That's a lot of Red Flags, the combination of which suffuse Marlon Mack's Prospects with a high Degree of Risk.
But his extraordinary Processing Speed and Field Vision speak Volumes about his Intelligence ~ especially his FootBall Intelligence ~ and while I can't write conclusively about his Drive, his Intensity on the Field of Battle is evident.
There is indeed Risk, here, but his Potential is flat out elite. He's got a lot of Work to do on Ball Security, on Blocking, on his Route Running, and on catching the Ball. That's a whole lot of Time & Training we're looking at, and lots of room for Failure...But if he puts in the Work, succeeds in translating it onto the Field of Battle, and develops into the complete, Hybrid, Dual Threat HalfBack that I believe he has the Potential to become, he'll be one'f the very best.
* Update: In a Classic Case of my often repeated Notion that there's a Wafer-thin line between Top 10 Talents and UFA Talents ~ and that the Differential can therefore be tricky to discern ~ I have, upon reading multiple Accusations of Mack's allegedly Bouncing It Outside too often, taken a Fresh Look...and found that those Accusations have Merit.
And that is a major Red Flag my Book, as long time Readers might remember.
An HalfBack more intent on Splash Plays than on Moving The Chains has no place on my Field of Battle, and if Mack fails to immediately break that Tendency, I believe that he will have a very difficult time working his way into the Rotation, wherever he goes. Consequently, I'm substantially Walking Back my earlier 2nd/3rd Round Grade.
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!!