Golden Gophers ~ 6060/315
Such is the case with Defensive Ends. NFL Defenses have become more'r less evenly divided between "43" Teams and "34" Teams. Far more importantly, though, the line between "43" and "34" is rapidly becoming a very fuzzy one.
Teams are increasingly going with Hybrid Theory Concepts, and the result is that many "Positions" are becoming Hybrids.
Defensive Ends are at the very crux of this changing LandScape. Traditional "34" Ends are just as likely to be employed as 3 Tech Tackles, traditional "43" Ends are just as likely to be deployed as "34" Flank Defenders ~ "OutSide LineBacker", to you Earthlings ~ and both are increasingly being asked to morph between Roles.
As such, I consider the old notion of pretending that these guys all go into one "Defensive End" Category to be silly.
And I also find the idea of sub-categorizing them as "34" Ends and "43" Ends, while a step in the right direction, to be ridiculously inadequate: It ignores the fact that half these guys won't even be deployed that way, and it ignores the fact that a rapidly increasing number of Defenses are going to ask them to morph between Roles.
Lion is going to be my term for the 280 Pound Plus Defensive Ends who could project to Tackle.
Dragon is going to be my term for the 270 Pounders or less.
Within the 270's or in any unusual cases, it'll be a Judgement Call.
Lions will get drafted either to play "34" End, "43" Tackle...or both.
Dragons will get drafted either to play "34" Flanker, "43" End...or both!!
I should also add that some Prospects generally considered to be Defensive Tackles will fall under my definition of a Lion. Indeed, the way the Strategic & Tactical LandScape is evolving these days, it is of course not uncommon for an erstwhile Tackle to get kicked out to Defensive End. But of course what each Coach does with his Personnel is his Business.
My Purpose here is to try to categorize Prospects by Type, and I believe that there is substantial difference between Prospects who could play both End and Tackle and Prospects whose Skills Sets suggest that they do.
These latter are genuine Hybrids ~ Lions ~ and it is my Hope that those of you who honor my Site with your Visits will find my efforts to distinguish the one type from the other ~ wrought with Peril though it be!! ~ to be useful to your Purposes.
When evaluating Lions, these are the Attributes to which I pay most particular attention:
Power. Above all: Core Power. Upper body Strength is important, but Core Power, from the Knees to the Ribs, is absolutely crucial. All the upper body strength in the world still fails if you can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables a Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing Game. And those Players who invest the time and effort to develop superior Core Power are far likelier to enjoy sustained good Health and stay on the Field.
Agility. Lateral 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 stiff and lumbering out there.
Combat Skills. Mechanics. Launch Velocity, Paw Power, and Technique.
Intangibles. Diagnostic Capacity, Processing Speed, and Motor. How effectively he masters Spatial Diagnostics & Angles, how rapidly he recognizes and implements Blocking Schemes based on changing Defensive Tactics, and of course: Drive. How badly he wants it. These are of course difficult things to assess, but it's crucial to at least try to.
Agility. Phenomenal. He exhibits tremendous Lateral Velocity, chasing down HalfBacks and the occasional QuarterBack, and even though he plays Too High Too Often, he's clearly blessed with exceptional Fluidity in that Frame. And he's possessed of potentially sensational Launch Velocity, once he develops better Instincts for the Snap Count.
Mechanics. Deficient. Raw as Hell. Yet he flashes beautifully brutal Paw Power.
Intangibles. Sufficient, I think. It took'm a few Years to Take It Through The Gears, transitioning from Tight End to Defensive Tackle, but he made huge strides in 2012, and enormous strides in 2013. And let me tell you that that's one Hell of a lot faster than I ever would've managed it. His Motor's been choppy, mind you, though that could be Growing Pains. He still looks lost out there at times, but he's making enormous strides and the Game is clearly slowing down for'm.
It's all about Trajectory, baby.
RaShede Hagemen is one frightening Prospect to imagine spending a 1st Rounder on. He is still very raw, and he's been miscast as a Defensive Tackle in College. He's too tall for that Gig, and even though careful study of the Tape reveals fundamentally remarkable Fluidity ~ perhaps the most crucial Indicator of prospective Durability & Success ~ being compelled to play with such a dramatic Leverage Disadvantage on the Interior actually makes him look stiff.
He is anything but.
RaShede Hageman was a tremendous BasketBall Player and an extraordinary and highly coveted Tight End, coming out of High School. And it shows on the FootBall Field, if one makes allowances for the Dwarfs he usually plays against.
He only began learning how to play Defensive Tackle in 2009.
It took a few Years to Take It Through The Gears, but he improved in every one of those Years, and in 2012 things really started clicking. Indeed his Game has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last two Campaigns.
All Prospects are Risks, and I'm not the guy to tell you that there isn't any, here.
But he's got the raw Power & Agility to disrupt, demolish, and terrify Offensive Lines for a decade.
He has been steadily advancing towards mastering his Work and actualizing that Talent for 5 Years.
And his Game has grown, I say again, by leaps & bounds over the last 2 Campaigns.
The Game is starting to slow down for'm.
It's starting to happen.
And I believe that his UpSide as a "34" Defensive End is magnificent.
But it's a Risk I'd be willing to take.
Thanks, as always, to the extraordinary Work by the men of Draft BreakDown!!
Consensus Market Value