Lion ~ Rodney Gunter ~ Delaware State Hornets 6040/299
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:
Lions ~ This is my term for Defensive Linemen with the Size of a smaller and faster Defensive Tackle and the WingSpan of a Defensive End. Like the Grizzlies, they can line up at End in a 34 or at Tackle in a 43, or just about anywhere in either Formation, and conceivably play either 1 Gap or 2 Gap. The Prototype would be about 6050/300 or less.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Lions 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 Lions, 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 still fails if you can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables a Defensive Lineman to project Power in the Passing Game and to reject Power in the Running 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 stiff and lumbering out there.
Combat Skills: Paw Power, Mechanics ~ Hand Speed & Positioning ~ and of course: Frame.
Intangibles: Processing Speed and Motor. Processing Speed or Diagnostic Velocity is about how quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to how the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape effects Blocking Schemes, and Motor is about Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed.
Pass Rush: Power, Agility, and Combat Skills.
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 in the Pass Rush.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Paw Power ~ The Power & Speed of the initial Punch.
* Paw Velocity ~ How active the Hands are.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Frame ~ Above all: WingSpan.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Offense.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Combat Skills
Agility: Exceptional. Mediocre Launch Velocity, but outstanding Fluidity. Adequate Acceleration.
Combat Skills: Impressive and with excellent Potential. His Mechanics are very raw, but his Instincts and Timing are highly impressive, and his Persistence is outstanding. He just needs Top Shelf Training and some Time.
Intangibles: Phenomenal. As Cardinal Fans doubtlessly know by now, Gunter sacrificed all but Senior Year of High School FootBall in order to help his Mother feed his Family, yet far from resenting her, he cites her as his Role Model. His Processing Speed is extraordinary and his Motor is phenomenal. He's genuinely dangerous on every Snap.
Run Defense: Exceptional. His Launch Velocity is mediocre, but his Field Vision, Motor, and Combat Skills enables'm to be competitively Disruptive, he's exceptionally Stout at The Point of Attack, and despite only adequate Acceleration, his Processing Speed, Field Vision, and that outstanding Motor enable'm, once again, to be impressive In Pursuit.
Pass Rush: Impressive and with tremendous Potential. Sudden, explosive Surges into the BackField aren't his Game, but his combination of Power and Fluidity is exceptional, his Combat Skills are impressive and could potentially become tremendous with Time & Training, and his Motor is absolutely awesome. He could become a Force.
Fortunately, I was able to dig up a couple of Games ~ against the Blue Hens and the Towson Tigers ~ but please do keep ever in mind that just a couple of Games and a few HighLights is often all I have to go on!! I leave my Thanks to the tremendous Work done by DraftBreakDown on all Reports, because they deserve it, but this one they sat out!!
I certainly owe the Cardinals a Debt for waking me up to this kid.
His Combination of Power and Agility is exciting, but what really makes his Tape a Pleasure to watch is watching a kid with remarkable Field Vision and an outstanding Motor employ those considerable physical Talents as he stalks his Prey on the Field of Battle. He makes his share of Mistakes, but his extraordinary Processing Speed, considering the Years he missed, is incredibly impressive, and watching a 300 Pound hunt his Foe with such an energetic and menacing Demeanor, combined with such remarkably quick Reaction Time, has been an unexpected and savage Pleasure.
Rodney Gunter will likely need plenty of Timing & Training, coming from the MidEastern Atlantic Conference, but he brings a fusion of Power and Agility far beyond the Market Value he projected before the Draft. This is yet another classic case of circumstances dramatically impacting the Draft Stock of a talented Athlete: Because he didn't return to the FootBall Field until his Senior Year in High School, Delaware State was the only School that offered Gunter a Scholarship, and he probably though he was lucky to get even that!! So of course the combination of starting off in the Far Pavilions of Competition and his having to play Catch Up over the last 5 Years or so have left him miles Under The Radar.
But Rodney Gunter brings an exciting Fusion of Power & Agility to the Field of Battle, my friends, he is is by all accounts an exceptionally Driven young man, and anyone who's Rolled The Tape and worked their way through the Games I've seen will tell you that this kid's Field Vision, especially considering all the Time & Training he's missed, is amazing.
"Trajectory > A mercurial Formula that blends Talent, Speed of Improvement, and the Probability of continuing that Speed of Improvement, based on perceived Intelligence, Passion, and Work Ethic: Talent x Intelligence x Drive."
I presume nothing of the Future, but Rodney Gunter possesses a Skill Set that projects tremendous Potential both as a 34 Defensive End who can Anchor effectively in Run Defense and develop into a genuine Impact Player as a Pass Rusher, and also as a 43 Defensive Tackle with equal Potential in either Aspect of the Game...And my Formula tells me that while all Draft Picks are of course Calculated Risks, young Mister Gunter is, as it goes, a far better Bet than most.
A reminder: The Market Value was based on my Perception of it prior to the Draft, based on simply trolling the InterNet!!
None of this is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning!! Caveat Emptor!!