Flex End ~ Oterrius Howard ~ Alabama Crimson Tide ~ 6057/252
Power Ends will be how I refer to the Players with a Frame built for the classic "In Line" Tight End ~ an Hybrid Player who serves as a combination Blocker and Receiver. There'll be Exceptions: I'd previously categorized Jimmy Graham as a Power End, but while his Frame is certainly that of one, his 40 Time ~ 4.53 at 260 Pounds!!! ~ trumps that.
The Prototype for a Power End 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. I consider Separation more important than the other WideOut 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
Separation: Impressive. I cannot grade'm against Press Coverage, as he usually lines up as WingBack or SlotBack, and when he lined up at Tight End, Slot End, or Split End, he rarely drew Press Coverage. I'm always happy to speculate, though, and would go with an Impressive Grade, based on exceptional Combat Skills and adequate Fluidity.
DownField, his moderate Fluidity hampers him, but his Ricochet out'f'is Breaks is impressive. As far as Linear Speed goes, his Short Speed or Acceleration is impressive, and his Long Speed is tremendous.
What stands out to these eyes, though, is his Route Running. He's still developing his Deception, but his Field Vision and Processing Speed in sniffing out Seems and Open Zones is simply outstanding. He gets open far more often than he's targeted. Part of that is of course because of Alabama's Wealth of Target Talent, but Howard, even last Year against Clemson, displayed a tremendous Instinct for reading the Tactical Landscape and finding the Open Zone.
Catch Point Capacity: Sensational. Terrific Processing Speed, translating into both tremendous Timing on Transition Passes ~ catching the Ball In Stride ~ and exceptional Patience on under-thrown Passes. Outstanding Patience and Combat Skills on the few Contested Catches that I saw. I didn't see any Tape that called for Vertical Agility.
What stands out most, though, are Howard's Hands. They are flat out awesome. Shuffle Passes out'f the BackField, Line Drives in Transition, Lobs or Arcs DownField, it simply doesn't seem to matter. He catches everything.
Chunk Yardage: Tremendous. Howard's limited by his moderate Fluidity, but possesses impressive Ricochet out'f'is Breaks, impressive Acceleration, and tremendous Long Speed. And he exhibits exceptional Power to break Tackles and terrific Field Vision. I saw Howard produce enormous Plays way DownField, and I saw'm produce enormous Plays out'f the BackField. There isn't much Wigggle to'm, but his combination of Power, Speed, and Field Vision is terrifying.
Blocking: Phenomenal. This, I found the most amazing Aspect of'is Game. Howard joined Alabama a few Years ago as a 225 Pounder, Split End Size, and I expected to see a Kid who was both still in the process of acclimating himself to the Beef he's added over the last few Years, and one who was still developing an Appetite for Combat.
That I did not see. Howard consistently exhibited an astonishingly acute Appetite for Combat, and the raw skills that I had expected to find were not in evidence: His Command of Lateral Leverage, by the 2016 Iron Bowl, had improved dramatically, compared even to what I saw against Kent State earlier in the same Campaign.
His Lateral Leverage, his Paw Positioning, his Paw Persistence and FootWork, are all outstanding, helped in no small part by what is clearly tremendous Core Power. His Game indeed is worthy of a full time Trench Warrior, and that is all the remarkable, as I'd read that his Combat Skills, even a Year ago, were developmental and raw.
And his Processing Speed and Field Vision have improved immensely, even since that Kent State Game that I mentioned. In that game, he had several Open Field Whiffs, and I was astonished at how much more effective he was at The Point of Attack than Behind Enemy Lines. But by the time of the Texas A&M Game, his Speed & Efficacy both in Reading and Reacting to Defensive Deception in Pass Protection and in Locating & Approaching Targets in the Running Game had improved considerably, and by the time of the Iron Bowl against Auburn, they'd improved dramatically.
Against the Tigers, Howard consistently exhibited tremendous Field Vision when blocking DownField, either patiently staking out his Target or attacking him, and always with an outstanding sense of Space & Timing.
The Improvement in this Aspect of his Game was amazingly rapid.
Wow. Yeah. To these eyes, Oterrius Howard is simply an awesome Prospect.
His Catch Point Capacity is that of a Top Shelf WideOut.
His Blocking is that of a Top Shelf Trench Warrior.
He is by all Accounts ferociously Intelligent and Driven, and his dramatic improvement over the course of the last Year emphatically supports his Reputation, as does the fact that he could've easily gone in the 1st Round a Year ago, but chose to return to The Crimson Tide expressly for the purpose of working on his Game...and did he ever.
At about 252 Pounds, he falls into that ethereal No Man's Land between Flex End and Tight End, and the way that he blocks, you could make a strong Argument either way. My Point, of course, is that Oterrius Howard is an Elite Level Weapon both as Pass Catcher and as Blocker, and exhibits the capacity, evident Play after Play and with increasingly sly efficacy, to disguise or adapt his intentions, and then rapidly read and react to what his QuarterBack is doing and what the Defense is doing in response, the result of which is to bring his extraordinary skills in either capacity to bear to great and often dramatic Advantage against his Team's Opponents...often with spectacular, game-changing Results.
He is an incalculably dangerous Hybrid Weapon, with the Intelligence and Drive to maximize his amazing Potential...and to do so entirely not for'is own Benefit, but that of whichever Team is smart enough to pounce on'm.
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!!