Lion ~ Marcus Hardison ~ Arizona State Sun Devils ~ 6030/308
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.
* 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
* Processing Speed
* Combat Skills
Agility: Exceptional. Excellent Launch Velocity, impressive Fluidity, and exceptional Acceleration.
Combat Skills: Mediocre but potentially Outstanding. Excellent Persistence, but raw Mechanics. Awesome Frame, though.
Intangibles: Mediocre. Mediocre Field Vision and inconsistent, mediocre Motor.
Run Defense: Competitive. Inconsistent, but with excellent Potential. Competitive at the Point of Attack: Impressive Core Power but mediocre Combat Skills. Very disruptive in the BackField: Excellent Launch Velocity. Mediocre In Pursuit: Impressive Fluidity and exceptional Acceleration, but mediocre Field Vision and mediocre Motor.
Pass Rush: Impressive but potentially Outstanding. He's got that terrific Launch Velocity, impressive Fluidity, and very active Hands, and his Power is impressive, too but his Mechanics are raw as Hell: He doesn't have a clue hot to put it all together!! But he's got an awesome Frame, and if he can develop those Combat Skills, watch out!!
The Bet on Marcus Hardison, I believe, comes down to whether or not you believe that he's got the deep well of Intelligence and Drive he's going to need in order to develop his considerably raw yet highly intriguing natural Talents.
I tend to be optimistic in that regard. People develop at all sorts of different Speeds, and some also start later than others. Hardison has the outward look of one of the latter, but even that is debatable, as he was predominantly a QuarterBack through High School, and has only been a full time Defender for 4 Years. As such, he's presumably still in the process of getting himself acclimated to all the Beef on'is Frame, in addition to a radically different set of responsibilities.
Some have wondered if his sudden Emergence in 2014 was a Contract Year sort of thing. I don't believe so, but I certainly don't discount the Possibility, for his Motor was a bit on the choppy side. But I tend to believe that guys who have the enormous well of Drive to get this far are far more likely than not to have the Drive to make it the rest of the way.
His Motor did sputter from time to time, but many Motors do, especially those of young men who are still in the Process of learning how very much it takes to succeed, and who are playing far more Snaps, as Hardison did, last Year.
I presume nothing, you understand...But I've seen enough Divergence in Paths to Success that I'm not overwhelmingly concerned about Hardison's Drive. I actually consider the Intelligence part of the Equation to be every bit as much a Question, for it takes a great deal, indeed, and Hardison has gotten a very late start in the Process.
As far as Scheme Fit is concerned, I believe that Hardison projects as schematically versatile. He is clearly on the short side for playing a 34 Defensive End, but his enormous WingSpan obviates that Deficiency, and he's got enough developmental Power and Agility to defeat Offensive Tackles against both the Run and against the Pass.
But I like his potential Impact better as a Defensive Tackle, because I believe he has the Potential to become an unusually stout Run Defender as well as a frequently disruptive Pass Rusher. And whereas his extraordinary WingSpan would be obviating a Liability at Defensive End, it would be exacerbating and exaggerating a Strength at Defensive Tackle!!
In short: There is plenty of Risk, here, because his Motor is a bit unknown, his Resume a bit thin, and his entire Game a bit raw...But if he's able to put it all together, he could become tremendously Schematically Versatile, one of those genuine Hybrids who allow your Team to shift seamlessly between a 34 Defense and 43 from Snap to Snap.
And he does indeed put it all together, that combination of Power and Agility and above all that WingSpan suggest that he could make an enormous Impact at the next level, both in the Run Game and above all in the Pass Rush.
My Take? I believe that we have a kid here who finally had everything click, last Year.
And I believe he has begun a steep Ascent.
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!!