It's an essential component of my Vocabulary ~ and my deeply demented View of Things ~ because I believe that it's the only term ~ short of creating one, which I am certainly always happy to do!! ~ that comes even close to describing a Role that I believe might be emerging from the aforementioned Ethereal Mist between Conception and Reality.
And in any case: It ought to.
WingBacks, in my NomenClature, are those Hybrid Players who are so ridiculously Hybridized that their Job Descriptions roam back and forth over the constantly fluctuating line between "LineMan" and "Back" ~ and who a confused FootBall World has clumsily designated, at times, as either "Tight End", "H-Back", or "FullBack".
They might line up at FullBack and play the Lead Blocker in the Running Game.
They might line up at Tight End and play the Edge Blocker in the Passing Game.
They might line up at WingBack, go In Motion, and catch a Pass in the Passing Game.
They might line up at SlotBack or Slot End and run a Pattern in the Passing Game.
They might even line up at HalfBack on a short Yardage Play and Run the Ball.
Indeed, they might line up at any of those Positions ~ or elsewhere ~ and do just about anything.
They are not Flex Ends, who Receive far more and Block far less, and spend little time behind the Offensive Line.
Nor are they Tight Ends, who Block and Receive with an emphasis on Blocking, like the WingBack, but who spend far more time In Line than the WingBack, who spends a lot of time in the BackField, playing FullBack.
I'm looking at Prospects, indeed, who approximate the FullBack in size and stature, but who do far, far more.
I believe, in fact, that "FullBack" as a Job Description is far too limited for the 21st Century, and have defenestrated it.
For now, anyway.
The Role of a WingBack is very different from that of a Tight End, but I look for very similar characteristics. Being of a complex, hybrid nature, I focus both on Lineman and on WideOut Attributes, with a side of HalfBack.
Power. Above all: Core Power. Upper body Strength 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 Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing Game. And those Players who invest the time and effort to develop superior Core Power are far likelier to enjoy sustained good Health and stay on the Field.
Agility. Lateral 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. Mechanics. Launch Velocity, Paw Power, and Technique.
Intangibles. Diagnostic Capacity, Processing Speed, and Motor. How effectively he masters Spatial Diagnostics & Angles, how rapidly he recognizes and implements Blocking Schemes based on changing Defensive Tactics, and of course: Drive. How badly he wants it. These are of course difficult things to assess, but it's crucial to at least try to.
Separation. Getting Open. This encompasses their ability to beat Press, their Acceleration out'f the Blocks, their Routing Precision, their Agility, their Ricochet, their capacity to outsmart Defenders, and their Instincts.
Catching. This encompasses Hands, Catch Radius, Vertical Agility, and Timing.
Navigation. How well he Navigates the Field in Pursuit of Yards After Catch: Power, Agility, and Field Vision.
Power. Above all: Core Power. Upper body Strength is important, but lower body Strength, from the Knees to the Ribs, is absolutely crucial. An HalfBack's Capacity to break Tackles is more about Core Power than anything else.
Agility. Acceleration, Fluidity, and Ricochet. Long Speed is all well and good, but at the end of the day, it's Gravy. What wins Championships is Moving The Chains. And Moving The Chains is accomplished far better by guys who exhibit the Agility ~ and the Power ~ to consistently pick up 5 and sometimes 10 Yards at a time.
Combat Skills. Outstanding.
Separation. Not a Clue.
Catching. Not a Clue.
Navigation. I have absolutely no Idea.
I believe that all are in Agreement ~ all that've even heard of Nikita Whitlock, that is ~ that he'll need to learn an entirely new Position at The Next Level, to have a chance of forging a Career. I've seen it written in some places that other Positions might be an option, but the trend seems to be strongly in favor of WingBack, and I applaud that.
Converting a Defensive Tackle into a WingBack is, needless to say, an enormous Transition to take on, both for Whitlock himself and for his prospective Team. And I cannot cite any recent Precedent, though there may be some.
The Miners, however, led by Jim Harbaugh, who along with Pete Carroll is revolutionizing the entire Approach that Teams take towards TeamBuilding, has converted College Defensive End Bruce Miller to WingBack with tremendous Success.
Nor would I suggest that just because Whitlock has no Experience as a Receiver that he has no realistic Chance of eventually developing into a legitimate and even substantial part of his Team's Passing Offense.
Miller emerged as a legitimate Target in his 3rd Year in San Fransisco, and continues to evolve. He is already an awesome Blocker in both the Running Game and the Passing Game in San Fransisco's complex and fascinating Offense, and has now emerged as a genuine Hybrid Threat at a Position that evidently only Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, among all Coaches in the NFL, fully realize the immense Potential Impact of: Miller, you see, just Got Paid.
Projecting Whitlock's Potential as a Blocker, much less as a Receiver, mind you, is pure, unbridled Speculation.
And I'm just the guy to do it.
We're talking about a complete Conversion, here, so of course it'll take a few Years to Take It Through The Gears...
But Nikita Whitlock brings a tremendous fusion of Power, Fluidity, Ferocity, and Drive to the BattleField.
He possesses the Raw Tools to develop into not just an adequate Blocker, but a demolishing, marauding Force.
And if he ends up on a Team whose Coaching Staff is Visionary enough to realize the Dynamically Destructive Potential of a dominant Lead Blocker who evolves into a legitimate part of the Passing Game and invests the Time & Training??
Whitlock could actually become a Star.
Thanks, as always, to the extraordinary Work by the men of Draft BreakDown!!
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Yankee Market Value