Offensive Guard ~ Ethan Pocic ~ Louisiana State Fighting Tigers ~ 6060/308
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 Guards:
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: Lateral Leverage, Paw Positioning, Paw Persistence, and FootWork.
Processing Speed: How quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape!!
Motor: Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Blocking: Applying it all: Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
Pass Blocking: Power, Agility, Frame, 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.
* 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.
* Reading & Reacting to Defensive Schemes & Stunts quickly and effectively.
* Field Vision: Finding Targets & approaching them effectively.
* Power ~ Drive Power to project Power in the Running Game.
* Agility ~ especially Acceleration DownField or to the Flank.
* Frame ~ especially Vertical Leverage.
* Combat Skills.
* Processing Speed.
* Power ~ Anchoring Strength to reject Power in the Passing Game.
* Agility ~ especially Fluidity to Mirror the Pass Rusher.
* Frame ~ especially WingSpan.
* Combat Skills.
* Processing Speed.
Power: Exceptional. Lance Zierlein, a Trench Warrior Expert, described Pocic's Strength as "average" last Autumn, but I respectfully disagree. I project Pocic not as a Center ~ the Position that he's played for the vast majority of his Fighting Tiger Career ~ but as a Tackle. While that may strike many Earthlings as preposterous, I was utterly alone in making precisely the same Projection for Cameron Erving...Yet now, 2 short Years later, with the erstwhile 1st Rounder's disastrous 2nd Campaign proving even worse than his first, his Head Coach is seriously considering it!!
Pocic has exhibited remarkably competitive Power for a guy who ~ at 6057 or so (all such Numbers are unofficial until The Combine) ~ is operating under a dramatic Leverage Liability on every single Snap of every single Game.
My Calculus is simple: If he can compete, Play in and Play out, with Grizzlies and Wolves who're routinely 4 or 5 Inches shorter than'm and should therefore be able to routinely coil up and practically Bench Press Pocic from way down there...then against taller Opponents like Lions and Dragons that he'd see at Tackle, he should excel.
Agility: Excellent, and rounded. Exceptional Launch Velocity into'is Set in Pass Protection and into'is Surge in the Running Game. Tremendous Fluidity to Mirror in Pass Protection or change directions in the Running Game. Impressive Acceleration in getting to the Flanks or DownField in the Running Game.
Frame: Impressive. He's about the Right Height...so long's he plays Offensive Tackle!!
* Update: Mediocre. His WingSpan is far shorter than expected. That isn't shocking, because I was trying to compare a guy playing Center to Offensive Tackles, which ain't easy...But this is nevertheless detrimental to'is Stock. In changing my designation of Pocic to Offensive Guard, I'm neutralizing that Liability ~ 80 3/8 is adequate for Offensive Guard ~ but creating a new Liability, because 6060 is way too tall for optimal Vertical Leverage at Offensive Guard.
Combat Skills: Excellent. Excellent Command of Lateral Leverage, consistently working to get Square or better with'is Foe. Exceptional Paw Positioning, consistently Working The Inside. Excellent Paw Persistence. Excellent FootWork.
Processing Speed: Phenomenal. Pocic might not possess the Right Height for Offensive Center, but he's certainly got the Brains for the Job, routinely showing outstanding Speed & Efficacy in reading and reacting to Defensive Schemes and Stunts in Pass Protection, and is equally awesome at picking up Targets and approaching them when Run Blocking.
Motor: Excellent. Excellent Effort. Excellent Endurance.
Run Blocking: Tremendous. Pocic brings an awesome combination of Speed and Power to the Field of Battle, the Combat Skills to bring his Talents to bear to maximum Advantage, and the Processing Speed to rapidly exploit Opportunity and drive deep behind Enemy Lines and Wreak Havoc. He'd be best in Zone, but could excel in Power, as well.
* Update: Translating that disappointingly short WingSpan to Offensive Guard at the next level isn't promising, because it translates into a lot of Failed Blocks against Foes with longer WingSpans who reach'm first. His other Skills would nevertheless enable'm to compete effectively, I believe, once he learned the Position: Effective.
Pass Blocking: Outstanding. Power to Anchor, Fluidity to Mirror, excellent Combat Skills, excellent Motor, and the Processing Speed to rapidly react to Defensive Schemes and Stunts quickly and effectively.
Yeah, he'll do.
* Update: Effective. Here, too, a shorter WingSpan than expected will cost'm considerably, I believe.
Cameron Erving wasn't deployed as I obnoxiously declared that he should've been two Years ago, and the Team that wisely spent a 1st Rounder on'm but then foolishly ignored The Timeless Wisdom of Fanatical Yankee ~ the Browns ~ are now paying a severe Price for their Error, as Erving has had a disastrous couple of Years.
Remarkably, though, Head Coach Hue Jackson, who took over this Year, and who is one of the Game's Great Minds and who I believe has Greatness in his Future, the Brown's catastrophic current Campaign not withstanding, has actually mentioned that moving Erving to his natural Position ~ that's Tackle, baby!! ~ is a distinct Possibility!!
I nevertheless fully expect Ethan Pocic to be deployed as an Offensive Center, for though he's started 9 Games at Right Guard and even 1 at Right Tackle, he has, unlike Erving, played primarily Center throughout his Career.
I believe that that would be a big Mistake. Pocic projects, I believe, as an excellent Prospect at Center, but one who will be far more susceptible to Injury, because of the Wear & Tear of playing every Snap of every Game hindered by a Leverage Liability against Grizzlies and Wolves, which he wouldn't have to deal with against Lions and Dragons.
And at Offensive Tackle? Whether in Power or Zone, but especially on a Zone Scheme Team, Pocic brings a phenomenal combination of Power, Speed, Fluidity, excellent Combat Skills, a terrific Motor, and his Processing Speed would be tremendous for a Center, much less an Offensive Tackle. At Offensive Tackle, Pocic could be truly great.
And my Job is to evaluate Prospects on where they should play, not where I expect they will. So Offensive Tackle, it is.
As for the Risk attendant to the Conversion that I project from Offensive Center to Offensive Tackle, I would say that in Ethan Pocic's case, it's minimal. He brings gallons of Drive and Intelligence to the Party...
"Trajectory > A Philosophical Formula that calculates a Prospect's Potential & Risk, based on perceptions of Talent, Intelligence, Passion, and Work Ethic: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk."
...And I am therefore highly confident that, should his prospective Team surprise the Hell out'f me and deploy'm at Offensive Tackle instead of Center, he will not only Do The Work to learn his new Position, and put in Tons of OverTime...but will rapidly benefit from the Time and Training thus invested, and master his new Job far faster than expected!!
* Update: An integral part of the reason that I've been pounding the table for Cameron Erving to be deployed at Tackle, not at Center, has been his tremendous WingSpan. Pocic, now that the Combine Numbers are in, clearly lacks that, so Offensive Guard is where I, too, would convert'm to. There, his Frame is pretty mediocre, but at least it's not a gaping Liability, and the rest'f'is Game is excellent enough that he should be able to compete effectively.
I will of course be walking back my Grade considerable, though: I had'm as a Top 10 SuperBeast Prospect earlier in this Process, but as I often declare that I will shamelessly Walk Back a Rating, given reason to do so, here I certainly will, based on that WingSpan being far shorter than expected ~ as I'd been trying to picture a Center's WingSpan via comparison to an Offensive Tackle's!! Given what it turns out to be, I'm adjusting my Ratings accordingly.
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!!