Wolf Tackle ~ Sheldon Rankins ~ LouisVille Cardinals ~ 6012/299
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:
Wolves ~ Wolves are the smaller, faster Defensive Tackles. Whereas Grizzlies will generally be counted on to command Double Teams and stop the Inside Run, Wolves will usually be asked to penetrate the Pocket and disrupt, especially against the Pass. The Prototype would be somewhere around 6015/300 or less, and they're getting smaller.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Wolves 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 Wolves, 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.
* Frame ~ Arms, Hands, and above all: WingSpan.
* Field Vision ~ Reacting to the Tactical LandScape: It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Offense.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Combat Skill
Agility: Magnificent. Phenomenal Launch Velocity, spectacular Fluidity, and exceptional Acceleration.
Combat Skills: Impressive and improving. His Pass Rush Repertoire improved considerably over the course of the 2015 Campaign and even afterwards, as Rankins dominated at the Senior Bowl Practices to a great extent because of that. There is Work to be done, but he's got an impressive Repertoire already, and, more importantly to me, phenomenal Processing Speed and Field Vision to rapidly read the Tactical LandScape and anticipate Timing and Angles.
Intangibles: Phenomenal. An awesome Motor and, yes, phenomenal Processing Speed and Field Vision.
Run Defense: Awesome. Tremendous Anchoring Strength at The Point of Attack, impressive Combat Skills and sensational Agility to shed Blocks, incredible Field Vision, and a terrific Motor and exceptional Acceleration in Pursuit.
Pass Rush: Excellent and potentially outstanding. Rankins brings an extraordinary Fusion of Power and Agility to the Field of Battle. His Ace, I believe, is his Launch Velocity. That, combined with excellent Core Power and his aggressive Combat Skills, should win him the early Edge against many a Foe. And he's incredibly serpentine. The great Variable in this Equation is of course his Combat Skills. If he continues to develop that Pass Rush Repertoire, he's go the Processing Speed to rapidly read the LandScape, strong Core Power, and sensational Fluidity to become great.
One thing I really love about this guy is that while most Wolf Tackles are focused disproportionately on the Pass Rush and consequently aren't especially stout at The Point of Attack, it's actually his greatest Strength!! Indeed, he may well be the only Wolf that I've written about to whom I gave an higher Grade for'is Run Defense than for'is Pass Rush!!
But my God, does he have serious Potential as a Pass Rusher!!
The big Variable there is indeed his Combat Skills, and whether or not he'll continue to develop that Pass Rush Repertoire to unleash the dynamic Potential that his extraordinary Fusion of Agility and Processing Speed gives'm.
The question of course is: Will he?
Well, by all Accounts, including The Tape, he brings a ferocious Intensity to this Game.
His Brain Power ~ his Field Vision and Processing Speed ~ is phenomenal.
And he is blessed with a Truck Load of Power and Agility.
My Formula for Trajectory ~ Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Trajectory ~ says Bet The House on this guy.
Grateful Thanks, as always, for the crucial Work done by the folks at Draft BreakDown!!
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!