Dragon End ~ Solomon Thomas ~ Stanford Cardinal ~ 6025/273
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:
Dragons ~ This is my terminology for Players who may've played either Defensive End or what you Earthlings call "OutSide LineBacker" in College, and who in any case possess the Size to player either at the next level. They would generally be deployed as Ends in a 43 or as "OutSide LineBackers" in a 34, and have even been known to get deployed as Interior Rushers in the Nascar Package. The Prototype would generally be somewhere around 6050/265 or so.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Dragons 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.
Dragons in a 43 are Defensive Linemen, but Dragons in a 34, for instance, are off the Line and may be asked to drop into Pass Coverage from time to time, so that capacity ~ observed or inferred is going to be part of my Evaluations.
When evaluating Dragons, 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: Intensity and Stamina: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Coverage: Ditto.
Pass Rush: Double Dirty Dog 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: Exceptional. Impressive Core Power and tremendous Torso Power.
Agility: Sensational. Outstanding Launch Velocity, tremendous Closing Speed and magnificent Fluidity.
Frame: Exceptional. Small Hands and a mediocre WingSpan, but the Right Height for Vertical Leverage at Defensive End.
Combat Skills: Awesome. Thomas's FootWork, Paw Positioning, and Lateral Leverage are all masterful, his Paw Persistence is extraordinary, and his Pass Rushing Repertoire is absolutely outstanding.
Processing Speed: Impressive. He needs to simmer down on jumping the Snap, and he is occasionally zigging when he should be zagging, but for the most part he Reads & Reacts with exceptional Speed & Precision.
Motor: Magnificent. He's an absolute Lunatic, out there, and his Stamina is phenomenal.
Run Defense: Excellent. Impressive at the Point of Attack and relentless In Pursuit. He mangles Blockers ruthlessly, slips by'm when he can't power by'm, chases down the Carrier with'is hair on fire, and hits'm hard.
Pass Coverage: Very little on this, but with the Agility and Brains to become very effective.
Pass Rush: Phenomenal. Despite smaller Hands and a mediocre WingSpan, Thomas is a sensational Combat Fighter with explosive Launch Velocity, serpentine Fluidity, tremendous Closing Speed, and a relentless Motor.
But I think that those who see it that way are looking at it through an outdated Prism. I'm here to say that Solomon Thomas may have small hands and a moderately short WingSpan ~ and those do matter ~ but he's also got the optimal Right Height for Vertical Leverage at Defensive End, and therefore profiles beautifully for that Job in a 43 Defense.
And he's perfect ~ are you kidding me?? ~ perfect for Reducing Inside in the NasCar Package.
Solomon Thomas is by all Accounts a tremendous Leader, Intelligent, and an undeniably voracious Worker, one blessed with extraordinary natural Talent. And he's ready to make an Impact immediately.
In other Words: A Coach's Dream.
Pay the Man!!
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!