Offensive Guard ~ Laken Tomlinson ~ Duke Blue Devils ~ 6033/324
The Gutters are riddled with the Corpses of Teams that were built around so-called "skill" Players ~ teams that delighted their Fantasy FootBall Fans every Year, all the way until January...until The Only Games That Really Matter.
It is then, of course, that the Capacity ~ or lack thereof ~ to Move The Chains and protect the QuarterBack against PlayOff Caliber Defenses rears its ugly head. And another Team built for Fantasy FootBall bites the dust.
This is how I break things down, when I'm evaluating Offensive Guards:
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 will still fail if you simply can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables an Offensive Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing 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 Blocking: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
Pass Blocking: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
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 in the Passing Game. The capacity to Stand one's Ground.
* Drive Power in the Running Game. The capacity to drive your man back.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* 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. Reading Defensive Schemes quickly and effectively, and finding 2nd Level Targets.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Power ~ Drive Power to project Power in the Running Game.
* Agility ~ especially Acceleration DownField or to the Flank.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Power ~ Anchoring Strength to reject Power in the Passing Game.
* Agility ~ especially Fluidity to Mirror the Pass Rusher.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Agility: Mediocre. Adequate Launch Velocity, but mediocre Fluidity and marginal Acceleration.
Combat Skills: Awesome. Extraordinary Paw Power and tremendous Combat Skills.
Intangibles: Phenomenal. Intelligent, receptive to Coaching, a natural Leader and great TeamMate. An extraordinary Motor, seeming to get stronger as the Game goes on, and he consistently exhibits outstanding Field Vision and Processing Speed, reliably Reading & Reacting rapidly and effectively to the Roiling, Boiling Tactical LandScape.
Run Blocking: Excellent. Tremendous Drive Power. One huge caveat, though: His Acceleration DownField is marginal, and his mediocre Fluidity compounds this issue and reduces his Lateral Agility and Range to the Flanks considerably. He'd therefore be far, far more effective as a Right Guard, I believe, and in a Power Blocking Scheme.
Pass Blocking: Competitive. Outstanding Anchoring Strength, but mediocre Fluidity, so he is best on the Right Side.
Everybody gets beat sometimes, and I believe that Tomlinson will always be vulnerable to Speed and Agility.
But he brings a phenomenal combination of Power, Intelligence, and Combat Skills to the BattleField.
And what really gets me fired up about both his Short Term and his Long Term Prospects is that Tomlinson is clearly very passionate not only about overall athletic Conditioning, not just Power, but also about the subtleties and nuances of the Game. This is manifested not only by his Words, but by the way his Game has ascended over the last Year.
Talent + Drive + Intelligence = Ascending Trajectory.
I've read concerns about his having only played Right Guard for the Blue Devils, but I couldn't possibly care less. As far as I'm concerned, that just means that he's had all that more time to master his Craft. And while I believe that Tomlinson's capable of playing Left Guard or even Center, I believe that this young man was born to play Right Guard.
If he doesn't start on Opening Day next Year, I'll be surprised. And with his commitment to Conditioning, his Talent, and his evident Intelligence and Drive, I give Laken Tomlinson a very good shot at forging a long, successful Career.
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!!