SpeedBack ~ Jay Ajayi ~ Boise State Broncos 5115/222
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
Agility: Sensational. Even I, with my hyperbolic ways, lack superlative sufficient to describe the magnificent explosiveness of Jay Ajayi's Ricochet, his sweet, serpentine Fluidity, or his Launch Velocity and Acceleration. Slippery Lightning.
Field Vision: Impressive and trending sharply upward. A Year ago, I should've graded this Aspect of'is Game Mediocre or Competitive, because I don't believe I was making sufficient Allowance for Patience, of which he had at that point manifested a minimum. He improved exponentially in this regard in 2014, though, and it seems clear to me that his Command of Blocking Schemes is drastically improved, as is his Patience and Trust. And he was already consistently exhibiting extraordinary Field Vision, Timing, and Instincts. This is rapidly becoming an enormous Strength.
Blocking: Awful. He needs a lot of Work, here.
Receiving: Phenomenal. Ajayi is a tremendous Route Runner and an agile and instinctive Navigator with terrific, reliable Hands, remarkable Field Vision, and absolutely terrifying Acceleration, once he pulls in the Catch.
Strength ~ often focused on Core Strength ~ is the term that I apply to the ability to thwart Power ~ to Anchor.
Power, on the other hand, is the term that I apply to the ability to project Power ~ to Pile Drive.
I think that it's a crucial distinction to make when discussing Trench Warriors, because an Offensive Guard, for instance, if he can Anchor exceptionally well but doesn't often drive his man back, is a different kind of Guard than one who can.
But I think it also helps when discussing other Players. Jay Ajayi doesn't exhibit much Drive Power, so this is not really the guy you want to hand the Ball on 4th & 1 against a Stacked Box...But One on One ~ or even One on Three!! ~ I have watched, spellbound, for two glorious Years while he has consistently manifested magnificent Core Power.
Or Core Strength, to follow my own Narrative. He is extremely tough to Tackle.
Even if it weren't for his ludicrous Powers of Agility and Field Vision, tackling him straight on would be very, very tough.
And with those 3 Traits combined, Jay Ajayi is terrifying in the Open Field.
Add in his phenomenal Receiving Skills, and brings flat out nightmarish Potential.
Yeah, Jay Ajayi's been a SuperBinky of mine for more'n a Year, now.
Crazy about this kid's Potential, and I cannot wait to watch'm on Sundays.
And I'm not even concerned about his erstwhile Fumbling issues as most Evaluators are. That can be coached away, and I saw plenty on Tape in 2014, relative to 2013, to persuade me that Ajayi brings precisely that combination of Intelligence, Passion, and Drive that I seek out in Prospects: I believe that he's Driven, and that he's receptive to Coaching.
That translates to outstanding Trajectory, as I see it.
In EarthSpeak? I believe, based on the considerable Improvement in Ajayi's Game this Year, and in particular the dramatic Improvement in Rapidly Reading & Reacting effectively ~ patiently ~ to the Roiling, Boiling Tactical LandScape, that he manifested both the Drive and the Intelligence to squeeze every last drop of potential Greatness out'f himself.
And in extrapolating that Inference, I believe that there's an extremely good Chance that his Ball Security is going to improve considerably, going forward. Furthermore, I would apply this Extrapolation as well to his Blocking. More to the point: His Ball Security already improved greatly in 2014. Todd McShay said the Fiesta Bowl that he only had 3 this Year.
So much for Jay Ajayi's Fumbling Issues.
One last thing that I love about this kid: He is, arguably, the most purely hybridized HalfBack in this Draft Class. If you could say that Jerome Bettis and Barry Sanders represent the Extremes as PowerBacks versus SpeedBacks, then, within that Spectrum, you could say that Jay Ajayi captures as much of both of their Skill Sets as is physiologically possible to do.
Even the best PowerBacks are considerably less effective Outside the Tackles.
And most SpeedBacks are considerably less effective Between the Tackles.
Jay Ajayi has the unique capacity to perform not only effectively but dynamically both inside and outside.
That, Ladies & Laddies, makes for one Hell of a unique and dangerous Weapon.
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!!