Offensive Tackle ~ Donovan Smith ~ Penn State Nittany Lions ~ 6054/338
The Gutters are riddled with the Corpses of Teams that were built around so-called "skill" Players ~ teams that delighted their Fantasy FootBall Fans every Year, all the way until January...until The Only Games That Really Matter.
It is then, of course, that the Capacity ~ or lack thereof ~ to Move The Chains and protect the QuarterBack against PlayOff Caliber Defenses rears its ugly head. And another Team built for Fantasy FootBall bites the dust.
This is how I break things down, when I'm evaluating Offensive Tackles:
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 stiff and lumbering out there.
Combat Skills: Paw Power, Mechanics ~ Hand Speed & Positioning ~ and of course: Frame.
Intangibles: Processing Speed and Motor. Processing Speed or Diagnostic Velocity is about how quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to how the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape effects Blocking Schemes, and Motor is about Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Blocking: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
Pass Blocking: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
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 in the Passing Game. The capacity to Stand one's Ground.
* Drive Power in the Running Game. The capacity to drive your man back.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Paw Power ~ The Power & Speed of the initial Punch.
* Paw Velocity ~ How active the Hands are.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Frame ~ Above all: WingSpan.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Reading Defensive Schemes quickly and effectively, and finding 2nd Level Targets.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Power ~ Drive Power to project Power in the Running Game.
* Agility ~ especially Acceleration DownField or to the Flank.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Power ~ Anchoring Strength to reject Power in the Passing Game.
* Agility ~ especially Fluidity to Mirror the Pass Rusher.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Agility: Mediocre. Impressive Acceleration straight ahead, but marginal Fluidity.
Combat Skills: Mediocre. I give'm a passing Grade, as it were, because of his exceptional Frame ~ I might make that a separate Category, next Year ~ but his Mechanics are sloppy and his Persistence is inconsistent.
Intangibles: Mediocre. Mediocre Field Vision and mediocre Motor.
Run Blocking: In a Power Scheme, preferably at Right Tackle ~ or Guard ~ I'd grade'm as Effective and with the Potential to become Extraordinary. His Mechanics need a lot of Work, and his Range to the Flanks is limited by his marginal Fluidity, but his Power, both actualized and potential, and his Acceleration are intriguing and his Potential is enormous.
Pass Blocking: Deficient. Potentially Competitive, even Effective, because he's got a good Frame for the gig, provided that he deploys to Right Tackle, not Left, but he needs to develop his Conditioning, his Agility, and his Combat Skills.
I was tempted to recast Smith as a Guard, as others have suggested. Indeed, that may very well prove to be his Role at the next level: I'm 50/50 on it. But as to his optimal Position, it is in my mind clearly Offensive Tackle. His Frame is too tall for Guard to be an optimal fit, and indeed his Frame is excellent for Tackle. The Argument for his playing Guard is his insufficient Agility for Tackle, and it's a strong Argument, for if he doesn't improve it, he's going to have issues.
But my Approach is to cast Prospects in their optimal Roles, and I believe that if Donovan Smith wakes up and gets highly motivated ~ or simply confounds the Reports that suggest he isn't ~ and actualizes his Potential, I suspect that we'll discover that there is more intrinsic Fluidity in that Frame than manifests itself on Tape or in Drills.
You see Flashes of it from time to time, you see.
Whether or not Donovan Smith will actualize his suspected Fluidity, or develop his raw Mechanics, or his raw Power, or his Field Vision well enough to succeed at the next level is of course The Big Question.
Grateful Thanks, as always, for the crucial Work done by the folks at Draft BreakDown!!
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!