MidFielder ~ Zachary Cunningham ~ VanDerBilt Commodores ~ 6033/234
Old Roles are getting dramatically transformed, and virtually every Front 7 ~ or Front 6!! ~ Defensive Job Description is transitioning into an Hybrid Role where the Defender is asked to excel in multiple Roles and in multiple Fronts.
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:
MidFielders ~ This is in fact my collective term for all of what you Earthlings refer to as "LineBackers", a term that I consider moderately insulting to the Players in question. The reason I'm employing a collective term ~ at least for now ~ is that I believe that the Skill Sets for any of the 3 or 4 Jobs indicated therein are remarkably similar, though their Duties are certainly considerably divergent. The Prototype for any MidFielder would be about 6000/240 or thereabouts.
I don't consider Dragons that play what you Earthlings refer to as "OutSide LineBacker" in a 34 Defense to be MidFielders.
Dragons have a particular Skill Set and natural strengths which are divergent to those of MidFielders.
MidFielders, whether in a 434, a 335, a 425, a 245, or whatever you come up with, are natural Super Hybrids who can quite conceivably Rush the Passer, Drop into Coverage, and, above all, Defend against the Run.
When evaluating MidFielders, this is how I break things down:
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 will still fail if you simply can't dig in your Heels. But Core Power enables an Offensive Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing 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 lurching around like FrankenStein.
Frame: Vertical Leverage, Hands, Arm Length, and WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Horizontal Leverage, Paw Positioning, Paw Persistence, and FootWork. Above all: Pass Rush Repertoire.
Processing Speed: How quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape!!
Motor: Intensity and Stamina: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Coverage: Ditto.
Pass Rush: Double Dirty Dog Ditto.
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, Rushing the Passer.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Vertical Leverage. Height is crucial, but it's actually better, I believe, to be an Inch shorter than an Inch Taller.
* Hands. The larger the better, generally, but compact is never a bad Attribute in The Trenches.
* Arm Length. Absolutely crucial. He who boasts the longer Arms initiates Combat.
* WingSpan. Arm Length + Torso Width. A more complete Measurement.
* Lateral Leverage. Angles. Getting Square or better with the Target.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Pass Rush Repertoire: Variety.
* Reading & Reacting to Offensive Blocking Schemes with Speed & Precision.
* Field Vision: Finding Targets & approaching them effectively.
Power: Mediocre. He's got the Frame of a Bandit, but his Power is more that of a RoverBack.
Agility: Tremendous. Outstanding Launch Velocity. Impressive Fluidity. Extraordinary Acceleration and Closing Speed.
Frame: Outstanding. His Center of Gravity is far higher than is optimal for Vertical Leverage, which exacerbates his Power Liability, and inhibits what might otherwise be tremendous Fluidity, but his WingSpan is flat out spectacular.
Combat Skills: Competitive. Room to develop in all Aspects.
Processing Speed: Extraordinary. Reads & Reacts with a consistently lofty level of Speed & Precision.
Motor: Outstanding Intensity & Stamina.
Run Defense: Excellent. Mediocre at The Point of Attack but phenomenal In Pursuit.
Pass Coverage: Tremendous. A rare combination of Agility, Field Vision, and Intensity.
Pass Rush: Mediocre, but with extraordinary Potential, thanks to that WingSpan and his Closing Speed.
MidFielders as tall as him scare the Hell out'f me, because I tend to find that their high Center of Gravity an enormous impediment both to their Functional Power and to their Functional Agility, but there are Exceptions.
And Zach Cunningham is an exceptional Prospect.
His Combat Skills and his Tackling certainly need some Work, but his Drive and Intelligence are both clearly of the highest Caliber, so I have to consider him a far stronger Bet than most to develop those Skills. And should he do so, that would transform every Aspect of his Game substantially...and transform'm into a genuine Pass Rushing Threat.
He could develop into a Top Shelf Triple Threat Baller ~ Run Defense, Pass Coverage, and Pass Rush, and has exhibited precisely the kind of Intelligence and Intensity that Teams covet from their Defensive Captains.
As it is, Zachary Cunningham projects as an elite Prospect as a Will MidFielder in a 434 or a 335 or as a Mike MidFielder in a 344 or a 245, and he's got the Agility, the sprawling WingSpan, and the Intelligence and Drive to be a Star.
Pay the Man!!
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!