Sooners ~ 5090/165
This is as opposed to FlexBacks, who of course are HalfBacks who take an active hand in the Passing Game.
And this is also opposed to the traditional Wes Welker sort of SlotBack or other "Wide Receivers" who make occasional Cameo Appearances in the Running Game on End Arounds and Reverses and such.
Mind you: I believe that failing to actively include these aforementioned SlotBacks in the Running Game in the first place to be foolish, and I further believe that they are, to a man, capable of doing so and thus significantly enhancing their Teams's Tactical Options, Strategic Capacities, and, thus, Mercuriality.
"Unpredictability", to you Earthlings. Yeah, I just made that up.
As such, one could make an Argument that FlexWings are all SlotBacks, and that the term is thus Redundant.
But of course it is not: As HalfBacks could be defined as FlexBacks who don't pose significant Threats in the Passing Game, so can FlexWings be described as SlotBacks who are too small in stature either to Block reliably or indeed to play a full slate of Snaps...but whose dynamic Utility nevertheless demands they get Snaps.
Perhaps there would've been no Role in the NFL for such diminutive Players, in Years Past.
But with the NFL rapidly evolving towards Offenses that spread things out and force Defenses to do the same, and with Defenses being increasingly compelled by evolving Offenses not only to deploy more Pass-Oriented Tactics, but to take on an increasingly Pass-Oriented Defensive Mentality...Opportunity for Small, Spry Backs abounds.
As with many Roles, there is of course some overlapping with other Roles, and I'm quite sure that most who read these words will roll an eye or two at me, which is of course your Privilege!!
But I do greatly enjoy exploring the Possibilities of this Great Game, and it seems to me that there is an enormous Strategic Opportunity, here: Defensive Tactics have out of necessity responded to the latest changes in Regulations to become, once again, both Smaller in Personnel and more Passing Oriented in their Schematics.
As such, it seems to me that an Hybrid SlotBack ~ a FlexWing, if you will ~ who takes an active hand in the Running Game and is in fact very effective or even dangerous when doing will provide a considerable Strategic Advantage to his Team: Defenses that are developed and deployed to oppose Offenses that include a prominent SlotBack will naturally be both Smaller in Personnel and more Passing Oriented in their Schematics, and thus placed at a Strategic ~ Personnel Development ~ and Tactical ~ Schematics & PlayCalling Disadvantage.
As with all Strategic & Tactical Innovations, the Advantage would be most acute during the first few Years.
These are the Attributes that I'll be looking at, when evaluating FlexWings:
Routing ~ How adeptly ~ Crisply, Intelligently, and Reliably ~ he Runs the Route Tree.
Separation ~ Getting Off The Blocks, Acceleration, Fluidity, and Ricochet ~ Burst out'f'is Breaks.
Catching ~ Hands, Timing, Tracking The Ball, and Vertical Agility.
Navigation ~ How well he Navigates the Field in Pursuit of Yards After Catch: Power & Agility.
Power ~ Derived from Core Power, it's the Capacity to Break Tackles and to consistently Drive Forward.
Acceleration ~ "40" Times Be Damned. It's the Capacity to rapidly cover short Distances that makes an Impact.
Agility ~ Fluidity and Ricochet ~ that's "Explosiveness out of Breaks" to you Earthlings!!
Processing Speed ~ Field Vision, or the Capacity to Rapidly Read & React in a Tactical Environment.
Blocking ~ Core Power, Fluidity, Combat Tactics, and all that goes into being an effective LineMan. Warfare.
And as always, regarding "40" Times: I don't give a Rat's Ass!! Hah!!
I should also note that while I include Power & Blocking as Attributes that matter to me, they are not as crucial.
Routing ~ Excellent. He exhibits tremendous Field Vision, great Timing & Tempo, and an Instinct for the Open Zone.
Separation ~ Phenomenal. Extraordinary, serpentine Fluidity and paralyzingly explosive Ricochet out of his Breaks.
Catching ~ Outstanding. Incredibly consistent in 2012, and that's the Tape I'm rolling with. Smaller WingSpan, of course, but tremendous Vertical Agility, phenomenal Timing and Spatial Diagnostics, and incredibly soft Hands.
Navigation ~ Extraordinary. Explosive Acceleration after the Catch, great Fluidity, and absolutely deadly Ricochet.
Power ~ Damned impressive for his Size: Tremendous Core Power. He breaks far more Tackles than you might expect.
Acceleration ~ Explosive. Saunders can be an explosive, dynamic Weapon in the Running Game if his Coach is smart.
Agility ~ Phenomenal. Acceleration, Fluidity, and Ricochet: Sanders has it all, Pro Days Be Damned.
Processing Speed ~ Proficient Field Vision. Seems to read the Field of Battle adroitly.
Blocking ~ Deficient. Are you shocked?
Watching Tape from Year to Year often reveals not one but two Prospects, wearing the same number with the same name.
We're talking about young men, here, of course, growing and evolving, so when they improve considerably from one Year to the next, it's hardly a shocking development. Indeed, a lack of Improvement at their age is cause for serious concern.
It's when Ascending Prospects take significant steps back, without any report of Injury, that thing get damned interesting.
Did they get exposed as overrated ShitBums??
Or is it possible that there were undisclosed Aches & Pains ~ perhaps even undisclosed to the Prospect's Coaches ~ that curtailed the Prospect's Ascension?? Such a question is of course outrageously speculative, at the very least, and opens the door to potentially ludicrous degrees of Rationalization...which is, I believe, why it rarely sees the light of day.
But contrasting Saunders's 2012 Tape to his 2013 Tape is startling.
And it was just 8 months ago that Saunders was highly thought of, all across the Land...and for good reason!!
Jalen Saunders's Size dictates that he needs to be deployed in Open Space to be his most effective, and that, of course, places some level of a ceiling on his Value to a Team, as is always the case with what I call FlexWings.
Guys who need careful Scheming are always less valuable than guys who you can just send out anywhere, any time.
But I believe that the Tape we saw of Jalen Saunders in 2012 is the Jalen Saunders that his next Team will get.
Yes: I'm stating that I believe that there was something wrong with Saunders, last Year ~ something that lingered through his awful Combine & Pro Day, by the way. I don't know if it was physical ~ probably ~ or psychological ~ an emerging Prospect foolishly easing up, as kids sometimes do. I just know that he was off, last Year.
And I expect that if it was some debilitating Injury or Condition, we'd know about it.
No, my Gut is telling me that Jalen Saunders ~ an hot name, 8 months ago ~ ran into one of the many Maladies that beset young me, last Year, and that his Stock collapsed as a result of it...but that the essential Prospect lives...intact.
It's all crazy-ass Speculation, of course, but I am ~ while absolutely making Allowances for the distinct Possibility that I am Dead Wrong ~ confident that the Team that drafts or signs Jalen Saunders next month will get one of the most explosive, dynamic Prospects in the entire Draft Class: A PlayMaker with the Capacity to terrorize Defenses.
Thanks, as always, to the extraordinary Work by the men of Draft BreakDown!!
Consensus Market Value