And I've 86'd "WingBack" as a category.
"WingBack" will continue to play an integral part in my offensive philosophy, I promise you. And as I roll out my Mock Drafts, I will be either trading for the services of young veterans ~ there are very few, mind you ~ with the requisite skill sets, or drafting Flex Ends, Power Ends, or PowerBacks to fill the role on my theoretical teams...But the reality is that with the NFL inexplicably marginalizing FullBacks ~ whose skill sets match that of the WingBack perfectly ~ virtually all prospective WingBacks are holding off on beefing up and becoming PowerBacks, because they want to Get Paid.
Some day, perhaps some Coach will figure out that today's smaller, faster Defenses offer an enormous Mismatch Advantage to an Offense that's brilliant enough to deploy a WingBack or two and thus gain both a Power Advantage in the Running Game and a Size Advantage at the CatchPoint in the Passing Game, combined of course with the Tactical Advantage of Defenses having no idea what to expect from such a versatile personnel package. And perhaps that brilliant Coach will manage to parlay that Mismatch Advantage into multiple Championships before everyone else catches up, after which everyone will of course mimic his Tactics, launching a Bull Market on WingBacks, which in turn will of course produce an explosion of eager, young, talented Prospects of 6000 Height or so beefing up with Visions of Glory in their heads.
But until such time as this fanciful vision becomes reality, there simply aren't enough genuine WingBacks with enough Agility to draft to warrant my treating this like an active category. So on ice it goes, for the foreseeable future.
Power End will be how I designate the Prospects with a Frame built for the classic "In Line" Tight End, an Hybrid Player who serves as a combination Blocker and Receiver. There'll be Exceptions, mind you: I'd previously categorized Jimmy Graham as a Power End, but while his Frame is certainly that of one, his 40 Time ~ 4.53 at 260 Pounds!!! ~ trumps that.
The Prototype for a Power End would be about 6050/260 or so.
The "Tight Ends" whose Frames are better suited to be deployed in running Routes from all over the Formation, and who aren't especially renowned for their Blocking ~ though many are adept Chippers ~ I refer to as Flex Ends. They usually deploy at Slot End, where their disruptive combination of Size + Speed can wreak maximum havoc.
The Prototype would be about 6030/240 or so.
And any random FullBack ~ who I would categorize as a WingBack ~ that I perceive as deserving a Grade in top 5 Rounds, or who actually gets drafted in the top 5 Rounds, I'll include among Flex Ends, and make note of it, treating them, essentially, as a sub-category. The WingBack prototype would be about 6000/240 or so.
Flex Ends are a hybrid of a hybrid. They're not a traditional Power End but their not a Split End, either. They tend to be more involved in the Passing Game, but where blocking is of minimal importance among Wide Outs, it's a sufficiently substantial part of a Flex End's job to significantly impact their value ~ about a quarter of their Grade.
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Power, Combat Skills, Fluidity, and Short Speed or Acceleration against Press Coverage, Route Running Precision, Acceleration, Fluidity, and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Tempo, Deception, and Processing Speed and Field Vision for Timing Seams and Open Zones. As way I see it, Separation dwarfs all other considerations of a WideOut's Job Description, more important than the other WideOut aspects combined.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transition or Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Vertical Agility, Combat Skills, and Timing. Timing is of course derivative of Processing Speed and Field Vision, and affects both Transitional Catches and Contested Catches. Its importance In Transition is obvious ~ catching the Ball in stride is the goal, of course ~ but it's also crucial on Contested Catches, both in terms of timing one's jumps and in employing Combat Skills to work free at the right moment.
Chunk Yardage: A 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, however, so I'm bringing it back as a category. It's gravy, mind you. Power, Fluidity, Ricochet, Speed, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed or Field Vision all play into Chunk Yardage.
Blocking: Blocking of course breaks down to Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor, and I'm consolidating Run Blocking and Pass Blocking. They don't need to beast out like a Power End, mind you, but mere Positional Blocking won't always cut it. He needs to be willing to get his hands dirty, from time to time.
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: For purposes of time and space, and to avoid boring the snot out'f y'all, I'm not going to include Prospects where my opinion was the same as The Market, whether that was determined before The Draft by my research, or afterwards, based on where the Prospect was actually drafted. There are literally hundreds of such Prospects.
My thinking is that by concentrating on the far fewer Prospects wherein I and The Market had a divergence of opinion, this will not only be far more interesting to you and me, it'll also be far more educational...mostly to me!!
Ertz went #35 to the Eagles. Me, I graded'm as a 3rd Rounder. Not an atrocious miss, but a significant miss, just the same, because Ertz, after several productive years, has erupted in genuine Stardom, this year.
I had it backwards with Ertz and Escobar. I graded Escobar, who went #47, as a 1st Rounder. The CowBoys screwed up, but not like I did, because Escobar crashed and burned, and is hanging on by a thread at this point.
Time will tell, as Henry lost the entire regular season in 2018 to an ACL injury, but he certainly appeared to be an emerging Star, a year ago, worthy of the #35 Pick that the Lightning Bolts spent on'm, which was a far more accurate assessment of'is value the horrific 4th/5th Round Grade that I inexplicably accorded'm back then. Whoops.
Like Henry, Hooper's ultimate value is still in flux, but, like Henry, he's shown enough to illustrate that he was clearly worth the #81 Pick that the Falcons spent on'm, and far more than the idiotic 5th/6th Round Grade that I gave'm.
I categorized Higbee incorrectly as a Flex End, when he's more of a Power End, but by either stripe my according him a 1st/2nd Round Grade appears to've been way off the mark. Higbee has been a good Blocker and a reasonably effective Receiver, but that body of work justifies a about a 4th Round Pick or so, which is precisely where the Rams took'm.
Williams was expected to go in the 1st/2nd Round Range ~ which translates to late 1st or early 2nd, to those unfamiliar with my lexicon ~ before eventually going #55. I grade'm a full Round later than that and two full Rounds late than his expected position ~ 3rd/4th Round. There was all sorts of frothing and foaming about Williams on the strength of one impressive play that he made, but I wasn't buying, thank you. He's a useful Reserve, no more. Bull's Eye.
I accord lofty Grades, several times a year, to obscure Prospects, many of whom never get a legitimate chance to prove me right or wrong, and plenty of whom get a legitimate chance and fall short...But George Kittle is one of those who got a legitimate chance and knocked it out'f the ball park. My God, did he have himself a year in 2018!! The Miners got an enormous steal when they drafted Kittle at #146, and he's performed precisely like the 1st Rounder I grade'm at!!
There isn't any particular lesson that I can point to, despite the carnage I suffered from 2013 to 2016. Suffice to say that I sucked in all aspects of Flex End evaluations, but in reviewing the last two year's worth, I've got one big hit ~ and quite possibly another looming in Hayden Hurst ~ but don't see any big misses, so maybe I've learned something!!