Lion End ~ Joel Heath ~ Michigan State Spartans
For that reason, and in order to offer NomenClature that speaks not to archaic, obsolete "Positions", but rather to Skill Sets that accurately reflect the dynamic Changes of the 21st Century Game and the Roles they have spawned, I have undertaken to craft Terminology that is designed to break Skill Sets down as they really are.
Defensive Coordinators have, since Time Immemorial, employed highly creative terminology in devising Defenses and in designating Assignments. In that Spirit, I have admittedly indulged myself considerably in devising the following NomenClature. It is undeniably colorful, but I like to think that there's an underlying Logic, as well:
Lions ~ This is my term for Defensive Linemen with the Size of a smaller and faster Defensive Tackle and the WingSpan of a Defensive End. Like the Grizzlies, they can line up at End in a 34 or at Tackle in a 43, or just about anywhere in either Formation, and conceivably play either 1 Gap or 2 Gap. The Prototype would be about 6050/300 or less.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Lions may often or even routinely line up anywhere, on any given Down. My only purpose is simply to identify what I perceive as Skill Sets, to distinguish types, if you will, and perhaps create a universal Point of Reference.
When evaluating Lions, this is how I break down the Attributes to which I pay most particular attention:
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 still fails if you can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables a Defensive Lineman to project Power in the Passing Game and to reject Power in the Running 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 Defense: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed.
Pass Rush: Power, Agility, and Combat Skills.
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 against the Run.
* Drive Power in the Pass Rush.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Frame ~ Arms, Hands, and above all: WingSpan.
* Field Vision ~ Reacting to the Tactical LandScape: It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Offense.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Combat Skills
Agility: Competitive but again with excellent Potential. Heath's Raw Acceleration at The Combine was nothing special, but his Raw Fluidity and Ricochet were terrific, and he flashes those and impressive Acceleration on Tape.
Combat Skills: Marginal, but yes: Tremendous Potential. Excellent Persistence. Deficient Mechanics. Great WingSpan.
Intangibles: Intriguing. Deficient Field Vision but a tremendous Motor.
Run Defense: Raw but with excellent Potential as a Run Defender, naturally.
Pass Rush: Ditto.
He wasn't able to break into the Rotation at Defensive End either a Freshman or as a Sophomore, so the Spartans moved him to Defensive Tackle, preparatory to which he loaded on 30 Pounds. Consequently, he's spent the last 2 Years acclimating to his new Physique and his new Job Duties. He's mentally and physically a Work in Progress.
And yet he got very high Scores in all the Aspects of the Combine that I care about at The Combine, strongly suggesting exceptional Intrinsic Power and tremendous Intrinsic Fluidity and Speed, Attributes evident on Tape on the occasions where things evidently clicked for'm, or he got the right Match Up, or a combination of the two.
And it's worth noting that he was playing Tackle against more experienced Players, bigger Players, and squatter Players who enjoyed a Leverage Advantage over him: That a Triple Disadvantage. Makes it kind of hard to shine.
It's not that I can't see'm, in time, reducing inside and play 3 Tech on half the Downs, as his Game develops, but playing there on every Snap was an enormous Liability to'is Efficacy. It did get'm on the Field, though.
There's still a lot of Work left to be done ~ a lot of Time & Training ahead ~ between Heath and Success. And he might very well Wash Out without every playing a Snap on Sundays. But there is at least tremendous Drive to work with, here, outstanding though raw Power and Fluidity, impressive raw Speed, and a terrific WingSpan.
He's an Hail Mary, but his natural Talent is 1st Round, Beast Level quality, his Drive is outstanding, his deficient Processing Speed may very well be due more to Inexperience at a new Job than to intrinsically slow FootBall Acumen, and if it somehow all comes together for'm, he'll be a legitimate Force both against the Run and against the Pass.
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!!