SlotBack ~ Mario Alford ~ West Virginia Moutaineers ~ 5085/180
Split Ends are usually the bigger, taller WideOuts who line up in the X Position, on the Line of Scrimmage.
SlotBacks are usually the quicker, smaller WideOuts who line up at the Y Position, off the Line.
FlankerBacks are usually the faster WideOuts who line up at the Z Position, off the Line.
The Split End prototype would be about 6030/225 or so.
The Flanker prototype would be about 6000/200 or so.
The SlotBack prototype would be about 5010/195 or so.
However a given Coach chooses to deploy the Soldiers at his disposal is of course entirely up to him, and most WideOuts will see Snaps at multiple Positions and in multiple Alignments, but I believe that it is valuable to categorize WideOuts in terms of classic Skill Sets, to better define the differences in the kind of Impact they might wield at the next level.
This is how I break things down when I'm evaluating Split Ends, Flankers, and SlotBacks:
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Combat Skills & Fluidity to beat Press, Acceleration out'f the Blocks, Fluidity and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Route Running Precision, the capacity to deceive Defenders, and Field Vision for Timing Seems and Open Zones. All other Aspects of a WideOut's Job Description are dwarfed by this one.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transit or Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Vertical Agility, Combat Skills, and Timing.
Navigation: How well he Navigates the Field after the Catch: Power, Agility, Acceleration, Long Speed, and Field Vision.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Long Speed
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity: Deficient. Small and all too often FootBall-Retardant Hands, a short WingSpan and a small Frame, and I swear to God that it seems he's got Attention Deficit Disorder: Focus has been a big Problem.
Navigation: Extraordinary. Alford's HalfBack Resume does him Proud, for when he actually gets his hands on the Ball, his remarkable Agility is supplemented by extraordinary Field Vision. If he wasn't so small, in fact, I'd've categorized'm as a SpeedBack. And if his prospective Coaches are smart, they'll integrate'm heavily into their Run Game.
Meanwhile, I'll just keep writing that until someone listens.
If Mario Alford's Coaches are smart, they'll play'm at SlotBack is his Primary, but they'll also shift'm all over the Formation, and integrate him heavily into the Running Game. Alford is still learning how to play WideOut, but he already knows how to play HalfBack. God only knows when and if he'll become a reliable Weapon in the Passing Game, and his hands are shaky, in any case...But if you just hand'm the Ball, or pitch it to'm, he is a dangerous, dynamic Force.
As to whether or not he will indeed master the Route Running and the other intricacies of playing WideOut, that is of course uncertain. Nor can I claim to've derived any Insights into his capacity to do so quickly enough to forge a successful Career, as I sometimes imagine myself to've done. But he has certainly evolved considerably since changing Positions two short Years ago, and I believe that a crucial Variable in assessing his Chances is the fact that if he's going to be successful at all, it'll certainly be primarily as a SlotBack, and that's a Position who's Routing Concepts are generally easier to master than those of Split End or Flanker. As such, I believe that he's got a shot at eventually earning substantial Snaps.
He's got a lot to overcome, with the Raw Route Running and the FootBall-Retardant Hands, but these issues don't concern me a great deal, considering how new he is to the Role. Once he gets acclimated over the next couple of Years, there's every reason to suspect that the Game will slow down for'm, the Routes will become crisper, the Focus Drops will substantially dry up, and as his Comfort Level ramps up, so, consequently, will his Explosiveness.
Such are the often unmentioned Benefits of Learning: As one transforms from deliberately thinking things out to that point where one is rapidly processing through steps without consciously thinking about them ~ as one's Processing Speed ramps up ~ the movements become exponentially more natural, and one's intrinsic Agility is unleashed.
Will that happen for Alford? And if it does, will it happen quickly enough to retain a Locker long enough to develop into an Impact Player? I don't know. But I'd say he's got a reasonable Chance, and his Talent is certainly intriguing.
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!!