Flanker ~ Travis Rudolph ~ Florida State Seminoles ~ 6003/189
Split Ends are usually the bigger, taller WideOuts who line up in the X Position, on the Line of Scrimmage.
SlotBacks are usually the quicker, smaller WideOuts who line up at the Y Position, off the Line.
FlankerBacks are usually the faster WideOuts who line up at the Z Position, off the Line.
The Split End prototype would be about 6030/225 or so.
The Flanker prototype would be about 6000/200 or so.
The SlotBack prototype would be about 5010/195 or so.
And I'm adding a 4th: The Slot End.
The term may make some Readers cringe, for the same reason that the term "Jumbo Shrimp" might.
And it's a term, as far as I know, entirely of my own Invention.
But it is of course the perfect Tactical term for a WideOut lined up in the Slot yet on the Line of Scrimmage.
And it strikes me as an excellent term to describe a WideOut who's not necessarily tall ~ like a Split End ~ not necessarily fast ~ like a FlankerBack ~ and not necessarily spry ~ like a SlotBack ~ and is often a bit Beefy. Not necessarily beefy enough to take on a Flex End's Blocking Responsibilites, but beefy enough for a Split End's.
I'm talking about WideOuts who're well suited to catch Balls in Traffic, and Move The Chains.
However a given Coach chooses to deploy the Soldiers at his disposal is of course entirely up to him, and most WideOuts will see Snaps at multiple Positions and in multiple Alignments, but I believe that it is valuable to categorize WideOuts in terms of classic Skill Sets, to better define the differences in the kind of Impact they might wield at the next level.
This is how I break things down when I'm evaluating all WideOuts:
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Combat Skills & Fluidity to beat Press, Acceleration out'f the Blocks, Fluidity and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Route Running Precision, the capacity to deceive Defenders, and Field Vision for Timing Seems and Open Zones. All other Aspects of a WideOut's Job Description are dwarfed by this one.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transit or Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Vertical Agility, Combat Skills, and Timing.
Yards After Catch are well and fine, but it seems to me that 90% of the Value of a Flex End and any WideOut is getting open and catching the Ball. Anyone who's read my Work extensively knows that I consider Blocking to be the Heart & Soul of FootBall, but that is a philosophical position, and I recognize that with most Philosophies, where it comes to Wide Receivers and Flex Ends...it's just Gravy. And so is Yards After Catch: Moving The Chains is What Wins.
Chunk Yardage: An highly overrated Aspect of the Game, I believe, so much so that in fact I didn't even include it in 2016. It is not a negligible Aspect of the Game, so I'm bringing it back, but getting open, catching the Ball, and Moving the Chains are far more crucial to a Team's Success, I believe, than making Splash Plays and getting on ESPN HighLights Reels. Power, Fluidity, Ricochet, Speed, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed/Field Vision all play into Chunk Yardage.
Blocking: It was a Mistake to leave this Aspect ~ my very favorite Aspect of FootBall ~ out'f 2016's Flex End Reports, and I'm very happy to correct that Mistake, evermore. Blocking of course comes down to Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor, and further breaks down into In Line Blocking and Open Field Blocking.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Please note, Fellow FootBall Fiends: That which follows is based on only two Game Tapes ~ Thank you, Draft BreakDown!! ~ and while my First Impressions tend to last, this is therefore very much a Recon Report!!
Separation: Effective, provided he's redeployed as a Flanker. As a Split End, I'd grade'm as mediocre.
Press Coverage: Marginal. Deficient Core Power. Mediocre Combat Skills. He lined up primarily at Split End one most'f the Tape I saw, but I'd highly recommend an healthy helping of Flanker with a side of SlotBack at the next level.
Agility: Effective. Impressive Acceleration and Long Speed. Adequate Fluidity and Ricochet. Please note that I'm basing this mostly off'f the 2015 Houston Cougar Game, as opposed to the more recent 2016 Florida Gator Game, because he appeared faster, more spry in the Cougar Game than in this Years. His Production was very sporadic this Year, and I strongly suspect that he was playing with undisclosed Aches & Pains, as Speed doesn't tend to disappear!!
Routing: Effective. A good Route Running Repertoire. His Processing Speed and Field Vision were, I thought, inconsistent, and he didn't always seem In Sync with his QuarterBack ~ although that might very well've been a reflection of Daniel McGuire's Inexperience ~ but he did show some Instincts for the Open Zone, particularly on a nifty Deep In against the Gators, cutting back across the middle, snatching a high Throw, and even showing a little Juice. TouchDown.
Rudolph is pretty light for such height, and thus exhibits a lack of Power that, I believe, pretty much precludes his remaining at Split End at the next level. But he's agile enough and routes well enough to become an effective Flanker.
Catch Point Capacity: Mediocre.
Contested Catch Combat Skills: I believe that I'll roll with this freshly minted term, henceforth, to distinguish the grappling and positioning that goes on at the Catch Point, very similar to Hoopers vying for Position as they anticipate a Rebound, from the HandFighting that goes on in Press Coverage. Here, too, Rudolph's is marginal, due to deficient Power.
Tracking & Timing: This is of course a manifestation of Processing Speed and Field Vision, or of a lack of it. I'd grade Rudolph's as competitive: Inconsistent, but with occasional flashes of Brilliance.
Hands: Mediocre. Inconsistent, and never mind the Brilliance!!
Chunk Yardage: Competitive. Marginal Power. Impressive Speed. Adequate Fluidity, Ricochet, and Field Vision.
Blocking: Awful. The Motor is there, and he made a Play or two, but the Power is not.
He got Plays blown up repeatedly.
Travis Rudolph remains somewhat of a Mystery to me.
He was the Nation's #1 WideOut Recruit in 2014, and he doesn't come across as a guy who's rested on'is Laurels ~ his Route Running is sufficiently developed that it appears he's put in a decent amount of Work.
Yet his Game as a whole is not overly impressive. Of what I've seen ~ only the 2 Games, mind you, if you skipped the Report and went right to the Prospectus ~ he looks like he projects as an effective Separator, but one with mediocre Catch Point Capacity ~ the kind of Prospect who'll compete for Snaps, but might very well max out as a #3.
Yet when I read ESPN's 2014 Scouting Report, it makes note of moderate Agility but heavily lauds both his Field Vision and his Hands. He was the #1 WideOut Recruit in the Nation, after all, and that doesn't happen by accident.
I'm gonna roll with what I've seen, for now, but I'm gonna try to find the time to find some more 2015 Tape, if it's out there. It feels like something was off, this Year, with Rudolph ~ undisclosed Aches & Pains or something.
Perhaps he has rested on'is Laurels, and the inconsistency that I've seen in his Field Vision and Processing Speed is his occasionally flashing the tremendous Instincts that he was blessed with yet hasn't work to perfect.
Or perhaps he has been working on them, yet has been hampered by working with young QuarterBacks who haven't yet developed their own Field Vision and Processing Speed. Yet what I've seen does not indicate that.
Even so, this Report is even more of a Reconnaissance than most!!
* Update: Well, that was interesting. It's hard to imagine that Rudolph was an highly coveted 5 Star Recruit, just a few short Years ago. Rather than a classic Case of extraordinary Talent combined with lousy Drive, I perceive the Polar Opposite: minimal Talent, combined with tremendous Drive. Rudolph ran an horrific 4.65 40 at The Combine, supplemented by marginal Scores in the 3 Cone Drill, and saw his 4th/5th Round Market Value plunge to UFA.
He's slow, his Cuts are dull, and his Power is lacking in Press Coverage.
Even so, I believe that there's a Future for'm in the NFL: Rudolph runs Routes really well, and while he's neither Quick nor Fast nor explosive, he is definitely smooth...and smart. And he's very effective at The Catch Point, as well.
I'm gonna Walk Back my Grade a couple Rounds, but I'll be rooting for'm.
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!!