SpeedBack ~ Curtis Samuel ~ Ohio State BuckEyes ~ 5110/196
I've come to believe that any HalfBack that doesn't bring a Passing Game element to the BattleField is...incomplete.
Hence, the term "FlexBack" ~ although quite cool, I believe!! ~ short-circuits the Evaluation Process.
As to how I break them down, I expect that the terms are pretty self-explanatory:
PowerBacks ~ HalfBacks who do their best Work between the Tackles..
SpeedBacks ~ HalfBacks who do their best Work outside the Tackles.
The PowerBack prototype would be about 5115/220 or so.
The SpeedBack prototype would be about 5010/200 or so.
Those are gross oversimplifications, of course, and many HalfBacks will manifest Attributes of both styles. Indeed, Power and Speed ~ better yet: Agility ~ are crucial to the Success of either kind of HalfBack. But I believe that it advances the discussion and better serves my Fellow FootBall Fanatics if I make an effort to distinguish between types.
This is how I break things down, when evaluating all HalfBacks:
Power: Above all: Core Power. Upper body Power is important, but lower body Power, 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: Launch Velocity, Fluidity, Acceleration, and Ricochet. Long Speed is all well and good, but at the end of the day, it is Gravy. What wins Championships is Moving The Chains. And Moving The Chains is accomplished far more consistently by the guys who exhibit the Agility ~ and the Focus ~ to consistently pick up 5 and sometimes 10 Yards at a time.
Processing Speed: Diagnostic Velocity. Field Vision. That ethereal Capacity to Rapidly Read & React to the Rapidly Roiling & Boiling Tactical LandScape...and to foresee and envision Lanes developing before they actually do.
Blocking: Having an HalfBack who doesn't Block effectively is like having 10 Men on the Field of Battle. Most HalfBacks just coming out'f College are mediocre Blockers, but this is a crucial Aspect of the Game that they'll need to master.
Receiving: Whether he be a PowerBack or a SpeedBack, an HalfBack that can effectively present a genuine Threat in the Passing Game dramatically increases his Team's Options on any given Play. The more dynamic the Threat, the more valuable to'is Team on the Field of Battle, whether he's just slipping out'f the BackField or splitting out Wide.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Core Power is most of it. Tyrannosaurus Rex would've made an Hell of an HalfBack.
* Torso Power doesn't hurt, though.
* Launch Velocity
* Long Speed
* That ethereal Capacity to foresee and envision Lanes developing before they actually do.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Catch Point Capacity
Power: Mediocre. Marginal Drive Power, and he's got a maxed out Frame but he's nevertheless managed to develop exceptional Core Power and his Anchoring Strength is therefore competitive: He won't drag too many Defenders or demolish many Piles, but he's not by any means easy to knock down, especially with a full Head of Steam.
Agility: Sensational. Phenomenal Acceleration to and through the Hole. Tremendous Fluidity. Amazing Ricochet out'fi's Cuts. And his Speed, DownField, is simply magnificent. He ran a 4.32 40 at the Combine. It shows.
Field Vision: Excellent. I can only give'm "mediocre" at Synchronizing his Timing with'is Linemen: As a Runner, Samuel is Patience-Challenged. But he Reads & Reacts to the Tactical LandScape at a phenomenal level.
Blocking: Mediocre. Impressive Motor. Mediocre Combat Skills. Marginal Drive Power.
Receiving: Extraordinary. As a Full Time WideOut, Samuel's Route Running Repertoire I'd grade as marginal, as he specialized in "Run Like Hell & I'll Throw You The Ball." complimenting a steady Diet of "I'll Throw You The Ball, then Run Like Hell." But as an HalfBack? That pretty damned sufficient. More important, though, is Samuel's Processing Speed and Field Vision ~ his capacity to Read Traffic and react to it with Speed and Precision. And in that Aspect of the Game, he's outstanding. He anticipates Seems & Open Zones against Press & Zone with highly impressive consistency.
His Hands. As a WideOut, I'd grade'm as mediocre, perhaps even marginal, as he's more'f a Body Catcher than an Hands Catcher, a Deficiency which becomes increasingly evident, the longer the Route...But an HalfBack is generally asked to catch relatively short Passes, not Long Bombs ~ though those are always nice ~ and within that context, Samuel's displayed adequate Hands for a TailBack. And his Vertical Agility and Timing are excellent.
What's great about Samuel's Receiving Game, though, is of course his Field Vision and above all his Agility and Speed. I don't Spin Off Speed as its own Category, of course, because I don't believe it warrants that: Speed, as opposed to Acceleration, is Long Speed, if you will, with Acceleration being Short Speed: Fast versus Quick.
And both'f those are Straight Line, as opposed to Directional, which is what Fluidity and Ricochet speak to. And I consider the ability to change directions quickly and smoothly far more important that Straight Line Speed.dd
Having said all that...Samuel's Agility, including his Speed, is simply wonderful...And the fact that he can actually read the Tactical LandScape quickly and effectively enough to apply his sensational capacities...makes him both a reliable Separator from Coverage...and a devastating and terrifying Weapon, After The Catch!!
DeMerit: Mediocre Ball Security.
It's a ridiculous thing to write, because virtually every Position is an Hybrid Position, and Roles have changed dramatically, time and time again, over the Years. Yet Writers ~ and all too shockingly often: NFL Leadership ~ wrap themselves up in ludicrously narrow notions of what Roles there are, and then try to jam Prospects with their constraints. Idiotic.
No complete HalfBack is anything but an Hybrid: A Runner and a Receiver.
That makes Curtis Samuel ~ listed as a WideOut ~ an easy Projection: His best Role is clearly that of HalfBack.
As a WideOut, he'd have terrific Potential, with his excellent Field Vision and his amazing Speed and Agility. But as a WideOut, there are also a few dubious Aspects of his Game: His Route Running Repertoire is extremely raw, as most'f the Routes that he ran were of the "Park right over there and I'll throw you the Ball." variety. And his Hands are mediocre, by WideOut Standards: he's not a genuine Hands Catcher, and the longer the Route, the more evident that becomes.
However, as a SpeedBack, he can threaten both as a dynamic and devastating Runner and as an equally terrifying Receiver who can be Split Out to Slot Back, Slot End, or Flanker at the drop of a Hat!!
I'm always happy to defenestrate a 4 Star Recruit with lofty College Pedigree such as Ohio State renders, because I have the general impression that a lot of such Prospects get a little soft and fall short'f their Possibilities...But I've no such Reservations with Curtis Samuel: He is by all Accounts a ferocious Weight Room Warrior, which is evident on the Endurance that he consistently displays, combined with his remarkably acute Field Vision and Processing Speed, consistently evident on Tape, make it crystal clear that he is loaded with both Intelligence and Drive.
Curtis Samuel has the Talent to become an extraordinary SpeedBack ~ especially on a Zone Scheme Team ~ who'll often rack up Chunk Yardage ~ and on a consistent basis if he gives up that obnoxious tendency to occasionally bail on an Inside Run and bust it prematurely OutSide ~ and who has the Receiving Potential to develop ~ rapidly ~ into a 200 Carry/75 Catch, 1600-1800 Yards Weapon. And he has the Intelligence & Drive to render that outcome likely.
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!!