Flex End ~ David Njoku ~ Miami Hurricanes
The Prototype would be about 6050/260 or so.
The "Tight Ends" whose Frames are better suited to be deployed in running Routes from all over the Formation, and who aren't especially renowned for their Blocking ~ though many are adept Chippers ~ I refer to as Flex Ends.
The Prototype would be about 6030/245 or so.
Those of either type who present legitimate Dual Threats ~ who can make a genuine Impact either as a Blocker or as a Receiver ~ are impossible to predict from Snap to Snap, and this renders them extraordinarily dangerous.
Conceivably even more dangerous and dynamic than either of these two types is one of my pet Positions: The WingBacks. I employ this ancient FootBall Term, one still in active use in many High Schools and Colleges, to refer to a Role so ethereal as to be almost imaginary: an Hybrid FullBack & Flex End ~ a Super Hybrid, if you will.
The Prototype would be about 6000/240 or so.
The WingBack, optimally, would be a guy capable of Lead Blocking in the Run Game, Pass Blocking in the Passing Game, or splitting out and running Pass Patterns from SlotBack, Slot End, Split End, or Flanker. He could line up at any of those spots, or on either Wing, on the Line, or in the BackField. He could even go In Motion or run the Ball!!
Such a versatile, dynamic Player could have an explosive Impact on the Competitive LandScape.
The Game has reached a point in its Tactical History that is perfect for such a Player.
It awaits only for the NFL to realize the Opportunity.
Because Flex Ends operate as an Hybrid's Hybrid ~ part Tight End and part WideOut, with Blocking ~ the occasional Chip ~ being but a tertiary part of their Game ~ I break down their Attributes pretty much like I would those of a WideOut:
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Combat Skills & Fluidity to beat Press, Acceleration or Short Speed, Fluidity and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Route Running Precision, Deception of Defenders, and Processing Speed and Field Vision for Timing Seams and Open Zones. The way I see it, Separation dwarfs All other Aspects of a WideOut's Job Description in Importance. In fact, I consider Separation more important that all the other Aspects combined.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transition or Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Vertical Agility, Combat Skills, and Timing. Timing is of course derivative of Processing Speed and Field Vision, and affects both Transitional Catches and Contested Catches, the latter both in terms of timing one's Jumps and in employing Combat Skills to work free at the right Moment.
Chunk Yardage: An highly overrated Aspect of the Game, I believe, so much so that in fact I didn't even include it in 2016. It is not a negligible Aspect of the Game, so I'm bringing it back, but getting open, catching the Ball, and Moving the Chains are far more crucial to a Team's Success, I believe, than making Splash Plays and getting on ESPN HighLights Reels. Power, Fluidity, Ricochet, Speed, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed/Field Vision all play into Chunk Yardage.
Blocking: It was a Mistake to leave this Aspect ~ my very favorite Aspect of FootBall ~ out'f 2016's Flex End Reports, and I'm very happy to correct that Mistake, evermore. Blocking of course comes down to Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor, and further breaks down into In Line Blocking and Open Field Blocking.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
In this Game ~ against the PittsBurgh Panthers ~ Njoku lined up exclusively at Tight End or SlotBack on the Snaps that I watched, most of his Targets were out'f the Slot, and I didn't see'm pressed on any of those Plays, so I don't know how adept he is at beating Press Coverage. Based on his Combat Skills and Fluidity, I speculate that he's mediocre.
His Fluidity seemed merely adequate, but his Ricochet out'f'is Breaks was terrific, and both his Acceleration DownField and his Long Speed were phenomenal. He wasn't especially smooth, but he was highly explosive.
His Route Running seemed a little raw, which is to say that he seemed unsure of the best Speed and the best Path on a few of the shorter Passes targeted his way. And he doesn't seem to have very refined Processing Speed or highly developed Field Vision, which is to say that his Instincts for, yes, the best Speed and the best Path, and also for anticipating and timing the Open Zones in Coverage are clearly developing, but not yet what I'd call refined.
All Aspects considered as a whole, I'd say, based on the PittsBurgh Panther Game, that Njoku's Separation Skills are currently impressive and potentially phenomenal. Despite what I'll call mediocre Field Vision and Route Running, combined, probably, with mediocre Press Coverage skills, Njoku is already very, very dangerous.
And the tremendous Power and outstanding WingSpan that he appears to have strongly suggest to me that when he gets enough Time & Training to develop his Combat Skills, Press Coverage won't be any Problem at all.
Given continued Time & Training to develop his Route Running, his Field Vision, and his Combat Skills, Njoku's explosive Ricochet and blistering Speed render the potential to become one of the Game's most dangerously elusive Players.
Catch Point Capacity: Marginal, yet with tremendous Potential. Even before he planted a couple of Balls later in the Game, it was clear that Njoku's still got a ways to go with his Hands, as he was catching with his Torso early and often, as opposed to catching with his Hands. Having said that, his Timing was consistently impressive and occasionally oustanding, which I see as Evidence that he's growing and improving, as well a RedShirt Sophomore might.
His Combat Skills are mediocre, but that's a matter of Paw Positioning and Command of Lateral Leverage, not of lacking an Appetite for Combat or Paw Persistence, and certainly not of lacking either Power or WingSpan. This is pure Speculation, as I didn't see'm in any Contested Catches, but with tremendous Power, an outstanding WingSpan, and impressive Paw Persistence, Njoku, I believe, could develop into a dominant Catch Point Warrior.
Chunk Yardage: Tremendous, and with the Potential to become magnificent. Njoku's combination of tremendous Power and extraordinary Speed, combined with that sprawling WingSpan of his, is simply terrifying.
Blocking: Exceptional, and with outstanding Potential. Njoku's Paw Positioning and Command of Lateral Leverage are lousy at this stage ~ he usually hit his Foe's Perimeter, not his Torso, which leads to lots of Clutching & Grabbing, combined with a few Blown Blocks ~ put his Paw Persistence is impressive, and on the one Play where I saw him deployed Behind Enemy Lines, which is a far better Fit for a Flex End than at The Point of Attack in The Trenches, he exhibited surprisingly impressive Processing Speed, StalkBlocking his Target, timing his Approach perfectly, and DriveBlocking him effectively, punctuated by exceptional FootWork, to enable a big Gain on the Play.
More intriguing, though, is the Potential of Njoku's tremendous Power and outstanding WingSpan. If he gets the right Time and Training and embraces it, he could develop into a devastating Blocker at the Point of Attack.
And if Njoku continues to develop his Field Vision and Processing Speed ~ and I see no reason that he shouldn't ~ the Potential for'm, with all that Speed and Power, to Wreak Havoc, Behind Enemy Lines, would be apocalyptic.
But I'm not especially worried about that, either: History tells me that a strong Majority of Prospects got this far precisely because they do possess those Qualities in Abundance. And Njoku, even on such thin Evidence as I've so far been able to get ahold of, is clearly driven to condition himself relentlessly, as evidenced by...looking at'm!!
He's also a World Class High Jumper.
My Point is that I won't pretend that I've seen enough or learned enough ~ yet ~ to declare Certainty that Njoku is so Driven and so Intelligent I'm ready to pronounce that his Chances of attaining his Potential are astronomically high. Conversely, I believe that most Prospects attain most or all of their Potential, so I'm not sweating this, and what little Evidence or Impression that I do have about Njoku is in his Favor. I'm evaluating Risk Versus Reward, of course.
Trajectory, if you will.
David Njoku is rather raw in terms of Processing Speed, Field Vision, and Combat Skills, all crucial Aspects of the Game and his Potential in it, as I see things...but has exhibited Potential, both as a Pass Catcher and as a Blocker, that is absolutely astonishing. His Potential Impact as an Hybrid Threat on the Field of Battle could be immense.
And while I can't yet go all the way with my Evaluation until the Picture becomes clear, as it doubtlessly will over the next few months, he has exhibited encouraging signs, both in terms of Conditioning and also in terms of his Motor on the Field of Battle ~ both Blocking and in pursuing Chunk Yardage ~ that he is a Good Bet to fulfill his phenomenal Potential.
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!!