MidFielder ~ Jordan Hicks ~ Texas LongHorns 6012/237
I don't consider Dragons that play what you Earthlings refer to as "OutSide LineBacker" in a 34 Defense to be MidFielders.
Dragons have a particular Skill Set and natural strengths which are divergent to those of MidFielders.
MidFielders, whether in a 434, a 335, a 425, a 245, or whatever you come up with, are natural Super Hybrids who can quite conceivably Rush the Passer, Drop into Coverage, and, above all, Defend against the Run.
When evaluating MidFielders, this is how I break things down:
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, Navigating Traffic, Processing Speed, Motor, and Tackling.
Pass Coverage: Agility, Processing Speed, and Catch Point Capacity.
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.
* Verticity ~ The Ability ~ or lack thereof ~ to Flips Hips and Turn & Burn in Pass Coverage.
* Paw Power ~ The Power & Speed of the initial Punch.
* Paw Velocity ~ How active the Hands are.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Frame ~ Above all: WingSpan.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Offense.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Combat Skills
* Navigating Traffic
* Processing Speed
* Processing Speed
* Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
Agility: Excellent and potentially phenomenal. Hicks is another case where I perceive a gap between Intrinsic Agility and Functional Agility ~ what his Agility Numbers at the Combine suggest and what I perceive when I Roll The Tape. And I believe that Hicks is also another case where the Potential for him to actualize that Agility is substantial.
Combat Skills: Mediocre, but with Situational Potential. What I mean is that as a Mike MidFielder at Texas, he manifested Impressive Mechanics but mediocre Persistence, seeming to take more of a Wait & See Approach. That won't work particularly well at Mike at the next level ~ or at Will for that matter ~ but Will MidFielders tend to take on a smaller Contingent of Blockers than Mikes do, and Hicks didn't strike me so much as Tentative, Contact-Retardant, or overwhelmed with Fear: just Tactical. As such, I project more Aggression at a more natural Position.
Intangibles: Excellent and potentially Extraordinary. Tremendous Motor and Impressive Field Vision. The Field Vision is the Variable, here, as Hicks is universally acknowledged to be an extremely intense Student of the Game, one whose extensive Study only partially translates to the Field. But I believe that we've only seen the Tip of yon IceBerg.
Run Defense: Impressive, and potentially Tremendous. Merely Competitive at The Point of Attack, but exceptional In Pursuit. It seems clear that he is optimally deployed as a Will MidFielder, where he can Roam Free.
Pass Coverage: Ditto. Impressive and potentially Tremendous. Hicks brings outstanding Intrinsic Agility to the BattleField, and prospectively outstanding Field Vision, as well. If he develops both Aspects, he could make an huge Impact.
Pass Rush: Mediocre with Impressive Potential. His Launch Velocity gives him some Play, as does the Potential for his developing his Field Vision and thence his Timing, but his Potential is limited by Power and WingSpan.
I don't personally find the Floor to be so low, though, because I believe that Jordan Hicks is gushing with precisely the Catalytic Converters that I seek out in Prospects: Intelligence and Drive. And when Talent converges with oodles of Intelligence and Drive, I don't believe that the Odds are as frightening as most folks seem to think:
"Trajectory > A mercurial Formula that blends Talent, Speed of Improvement, and the Probability of continuing that Speed of Improvement, based on perceived Intelligence, Passion, and Work Ethic: Talent x Intelligence x Drive."
I believe that the general Perception of the Market towards Jordan Hicks was skewed before the Draft ~ though the Eagles evidently weren't fooled!! ~ based on a few things that cast a misleading light on his Talent and Potential:
Regarding his Field Vision and Processing Speed, I've read a lot Praise, heavily attenuated by Criticism, that more or less adds up to Too Much Iceman & Not Enough Maverick: Hicks played with excellent Discipline, but exhibited a virtually complete lack of Improvisational Skills, which in turn spoke unflatteringly about his Field Vision.
That's a very fair Argument, but my Perception is that because Hicks was playing under the very disciplined Coach Charlie Strong for the very first Year, we had a situation where the Defense itself was very likely to be relatively conservative as Coach Strong laid the Foundation, and where it was crucial for Hicks, the Field General, to set that tone.
So what we saw last Year was Beethoven.
But had he played under Coach Strong for another 2 Years, I believe we would've seen a lot more Mozart.
Jordan Hicks is universally acclaimed to be obsessed with FootBall and a fanatical Studier of Tapes and Schemes.
He was a 6 Time member of the Big 12's Honor Roll.
He graduated in December of 2013.
And he then began pursuing his Master's Degree.
Yeah, I'm pretty confident that he can Process Information all right.
Furthermore, I believe that with Time & Training, he will process it extraordinarily well and extraordinarily fast, and do so in the Heat of Battle. 2014, after all, was the first Year he started all Year, and he did so not only for a new Coach, an exceptionally disciplined one, in a new Scheme, but did so after missing most of the previous two Years.
And I repeat: He is an obsessive Student of the Game who consumes Tape.
Mark my Words: That will translate onto the Field of Battle.
Talent + Intelligence + Drive = Great Things.
Furthermore, I believe that his Drive and this anticipated eruption of Processing Speed and Field Vision will both conspire to unlock and unleash the phenomenal Intrinsic Agility and underrated Intrinsic Power that lay within and which his memorable Combine Numbers hinted at: I believe that not only will a kid with Hicks's extraordinary Passion and Drive do whatever it takes to develop these Talents just because its his Nature, but that his Chances of Succeeding will be immensely improved simply because when Reaction Time accelerates, Intrinsic Power & Agility erupts.
As for how his Game translates to the next level, I believe that he will clearly be best deployed as a Will MidFielder in a 43. I believe he'll develop far better Power, Combat Tactics, and of course Field Vision than generally expected, and could therefore excel as a Mike MidFielder, but that as a Will MidFielder, he could become extraordinary.
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!!