Lion End ~ Malik McDowell ~ Michigan State Spartans ~ 6060/294
Old Roles are getting dramatically transformed, and virtually every Front 7 ~ or Front 6!! ~ Defensive Job Description is transitioning into an Hybrid Role where the Defender is asked to excel in multiple Roles and in multiple Fronts.
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 Lion Ends, 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 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 lurching around like FrankenStein.
Frame: Vertical Leverage, Hands, Arm Length, and WingSpan.
Combat Skills: Horizontal Leverage, Paw Positioning, Paw Persistence, and FootWork. Above all: Pass Rush Repertoire.
Processing Speed: How quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape!!
Motor: Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Rush: Ditto.
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, Rushing the Passer.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Vertical Leverage. Height is crucial, but it's actually better, I believe, to be an Inch shorter than an Inch Taller.
* Hands. The larger the better, generally, but compact is never a bad Attribute in The Trenches.
* Arm Length. Absolutely crucial. He who boasts the longer Arms initiates Combat.
* WingSpan. Arm Length + Torso Width. A more complete Measurement.
* Lateral Leverage. Angles. Getting Square or better with the Target.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Pass Rush Repertoire: Variety.
* Reading & Reacting to Offensive Blocking Schemes with Speed & Precision.
* Field Vision: Finding Targets & approaching them effectively.
Power: Impressive, with occasional Flashes of Greatness. I project McDowell as a Lion End, best deployed as a Speed End in a 34 Defense or as a Speed Tackle in a 43. He usually lined up on the Interior with the Spartans, and despite a substantial Leverage Liability at his towering 6060 or so ~ I've seen two different Measurements ~ he exhibited extraordinary Drive Power and Anchoring Strength on occasional, but proved disturbingly inconsistent.
Tremendous Launch Velocity.
Frame: Mediocre. A dramatically mixed bag:
Marginal Height Grade, as absolutely nobody will agree!! But that is a large Leverage Liability, Ladies & Laddies!!
Huge Hands and a phenomenal WingSpan, though. Grappling Hooks.
Combat Skills: Awful.
Poor Paw Positioning.
Poor Paw Persistence.
Lousy Lateral Leverage.
Raw Pass Rushing Repertoire.
The Man's got some Work to do.
Processing Speed: Marginal. Flashes Brilliance, but guesses wrong all too very often or late.
Motor: Marginal. Very inconsistent Effort and Endurance.
Run Defense: Competitive, with phenomenal Potential. McDowell exhibits sufficient Anchoring Strength to be effective at the Point of Attack, the Drive Power and WingSpan to shred Tackles and wreak Havoc in the BackField, and the raw, beautiful Fluidity and Speed to spread Terror and Mayhem across half the Field. But he's got a long ways to go in developing his Combat Skills, his Field Vision, and his Consistency to where he attains his Potential.
Pass Rush: And again I say unto thee: Competitive, with indeed magnificent Potential. McDowell certainly possesses the Launch Velocity, Drive Power, Fluidity, and WingSpan to shred Tackles and rain Terror in BackFields all day long. Yet he racked up only 6 Sacks in 2 Years at Michigan State, because his Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Consistency languished Light Years behind his Talent. And it's not gonna get any easier at the next level.
I read somewhere where he was compared to Mario Williams. The comparison is apt.
But while I don't presume to know the Man's Heart ~ I've never met'm ~ the Questions that I read all over the InterNet about his Work Ethic are justified by the Tape, because the Tape shows celestial Talent hampered by horrible Combat Skills, Processing Speed and Field Vision, and very sporadic Effort with a dubious level of Endurance.
Trajectory > A Philosophical Formula that calculates a Prospect's Potential & Risk, based on perceptions of Talent, Intelligence, Passion, and Work Ethic: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk.
Malik McDowell has Sky High Talent, but his FootBall Intelligence and Drive are very, very dubious.
I've taken great Pleasure, over the Years, in jacking up some Evaluations dramatically, in writing up Prospects who surged into the Future to carve out a Career based almost entirely on Intelligence, Drive...and A Few Scraps of Talent.
That will not be the case, here.
And not only do I consider McDowell's Services imbued with so much Risk of Failure or Mediocrity that I place a far lower Value on'm than do most, but I would exacerbate that Divergence in Perceived Value by noting that I believe that it's incumbent on any prospective Team to consider his possibly deleterious affects on'is Team's Morale.
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!!