Lion End ~ Jonathan Bullard ~ Florida Gators
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: Impressive. Terrific Launch Velocity and Impressive Acceleration. Moderate Fluidity.
Combat Skills: Impressive. Moderate Mechanics but excellent Paw Persistence.
Intangibles: Extraordinary. Tremendous Field Vision and an outstanding Motor.
Run Defense: I expect Bullard to be effective at The Point of Attack and in Pursuit, while potentially tremendous at attacking the BackField. He exhibits moderate Anchoring Strength at the Point of Attack, but I anticipate his developing his Combat Skills into an enormous Strength. And while his moderate Fluidity inhibits his Range in Pursuit, I believe that his tremendous Talent for Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Tactical LandScape, combined with his outstanding Motor, will expand it. And his combination of Launch Velocity and Torso Power should frequently get'm into the BackField.
Pass Rush: I believe he's got tremendous Potential as a Pass Rusher, as well. His remarkable Launch Velocity is his best Weapon, right now. He's got enough Power and Fluidity to give'm a Chance of leveraging that Launch into a genuinely persistent Threat, but only if he develops that Pass Rushing Repertoire well beyond its current level.
The Good News is that even though he's still got a ways to go, he's already ahead of the curve in that regard, that his combination of Launch Velocity, effective levels of Power and Fluidity, and an impressive WingSpan give him plenty of Tools to develop, and, above all, that he consistently exhibits the Intelligence and the Drive to make it happen.
In my Book, Trajectory ~ as I've adapted it ~ Trumps Tape...and everything else: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential.
The Gutters, my Friends, are littered with the Corpses of enormously talented Dumb Asses and Slackers.
The Ranks of the NFL, on the other hand, are loaded with moderately talented men of Intelligence and Drive.
I believe that if Jonathan Bullard invests the Time & Training that it's going to take to fulfill his Potential, he will become an effective and possibly exceptional Run Defender, adept or better in all 3 Aspects of Run Defense, and that he'll also develop into an effective and potentially excellent Pass Rusher, at either 3 Tech or 5.
And indeed he projects, to my seeing, as an highly versatile Defender, effective not only at 3 Tech in an Even Front or at the 5 Tech in an Odd Front, but even as an effective End in an Even Front ~ and at either End, at that!!
Genuine Versatility ~ the Potential to develop the capacity to play effectively in multiple Roles ~ certainly offers tremendous Value in the 21st Century, with Defenses currently undergoing nothing short of a Revolution.
And so, too, what with The Draft being fraught with Risk as it is, where even the best of us routinely swing and miss, does what I believe to be Jonathan Bullard's exceptionally good Chance of Success impart extra Value.
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!