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 6030/210 or so. Big. Hopefully Fast. Chain Movers and Red Zone Targets.
The Slot End prototype would be about 6030/225 or so. Big. Chain Movers and Red Zone Targets.
The SlotBack prototype would be about 5010/195 or so. Quick. Spry. Chain Movers.
The Flanker prototype would be about 6000/200 or so. Fast. Big Play Threats.
The Slot End is a category of WideOut, one of my own creation, and one that I fear I have been inconsistent in categorizing, that is essentially a slow Split End who thus lacks the Speed to play outside very effectively, but who's big enough and, hopefully, strong, agile, and wily enough to navigate Traffic effectively in the middle of the field. This Role has been expanding quite dramatically, in recent years, and I've concluded, now and forever, that it demands full membership, as it were!
However a given Coach chooses to deploy the men at his disposal is of course entirely up to him, and most WideOuts, whatever their Skill Set, will see Snaps at multiple positions and in many alignments, but I am hopeful that it's helpful to readers to categorize them in terms of Skill Sets, to better define the differences in the kind of impact that they might make.
I've immensely enjoyed learning about this Great Game, and there's always something new to learn. One fascinating truth that I stumbled on, many years ago, was the realization that Formations have gradually spread out over the last 150 years or so, evolving from a compact scrum very much akin to its Brother Sport, Rugby, way back then, into the currently incredibly complex...complex of Formations, where there is still all kinds of delightful violence and mayhem being perpetrated in the Trenches, but where tactical maneuvering has exploded like a Sun, in every direction, and in every dimension!
WideOuts personify that evolution in many ways.
It fascinated me to learn that Split Ends are just that ~ former "Offensive Ends" very much akin to Defensive Ends, who gradually became far less about Blocking for the Running Game and far more about Receiving, as that aspect of the Game, Receiving, evolved, quite dramatically, over the last 100 years or so, since the legalization of the Forward Pass in 1906.
And I was astonished, early on, to realize that SlotBacks and FlankerBacks are just that ~ Backs ~ whose status as Backs gives them, frankly, exponentially more tactical flexibility than most Coaches ever take advantage of! I often watch Tape of College Offenses that are routinely putting SlotBacks and FlankerBacks in Motion, where they are often set loose on Sweeps or Reverses, and are therefore a constant threat to Sweep or Reverse. The tactical advantage that this unleashes seems outrageously obvious to me, and for years it has baffled me that it's not prevalent in the NFL. But I digress!
This is how I break things down when I'm evaluating all WideOuts:
Separation: Getting Open. This encompasses Power, Combat Skills, Fluidity, and Short Speed or Acceleration against Press Coverage, Route Running Precision, Acceleration, Fluidity, and Ricochet in navigating Traffic, Tempo, Deception, and Processing Speed and Field Vision for Timing Seams and Open Zones. The way I see it, Separation dwarfs all other considerations of a WideOut's Job Description, more important than all the other WideOut aspects combined.
Catch Point Capacity: In Transition and Contested: Hands, WingSpan, Combat Skills, Vertical Agility, Focus, and Timing. Timing is of course dependent on Processing Speed and Field Vision, and impacts both Transitional Catches and Contested Catches. Its importance In Transition is obvious ~ catching the Ball in stride is the goal, of course ~ but it's also crucial on Contested Catches, both in terms of timing one's jumps and in employing Combat Skills to work free at the right moment.
YAC Attack: Yards After Catch. A 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, however, so I've brought it back as a category. It's gravy, mind you. Power, Fluidity, Ricochet, Speed, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed and Field Vision all play into YAC Attack!
Blocking: Blocking of course breaks down to Power, Agility, Frame, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor. Most of the WideOuts that I've profiled suck at Blocking, and it's a small enough component of a WideOut's resume that I've previously excluded it from my analysis...But to Hell with that! This is FootBall, and it's part of the job, so it gets graded.
Broken down into SubCategories, it'd go something like this:
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
Catch Point Capacity
* Combat Skills
* Vertical Agility
* Combat Skills
* Field Vision
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Please note: For purposes of time and space, and to avoid boring the Hell out'f y'all, I'm not going to include Prospects where my opinion was the same as The Market, whether that was determined before The Draft by my research, or afterwards, based on where the Prospect was actually drafted. There are hundreds of such Prospects, so I'll focus on the interesting ones.
My thinking is that by concentrating on the far fewer Prospects wherein I and The Market had a divergence of opinion, this will not only be far more interesting to you and me, it'll also be far more educational...mostly to me!!
Damn, I was really high on this guy. Gave'm a flat out 1st Round Grade, but while he developed into a decent 3rd or 4th WideOut before getting injured and fading from sight, that is nowhere near what a 1st Rounder should do.
An All Or Nothing Zoomer with marginal Route Running skills, Smith's Speed enticed the Jets to spend #37 on'm, but I gave'm a 3rd/4th Round Grade. His career totals were 10 Catches and 135 Yards. Bull's Eye!
Coleman crashed and burned so rapidly that he only lasted two years in CleveLand, despite the Browns spending #15 on him as the first WideOut in the entire 2016 Draft. I called'm OverRated, giving'm a 2nd Round Grade, based on his possessing undeniable Talent, but very raw Route Running, as Baylor WideOuts are becoming notorious for. Bull's Eye.
JuJu Smith Schuster
Woot!! Smith Schuster is a hyphenator, which of course I will not abide, but is otherwise an examplary human being and a bad ass. His Stock got pummeled by over-analysis a couple years ago, and he slid all the way to #62, almost the 3rd Round. I, however, saw a potential Star, gave'm a 1st Round Grade...and a Star, Ladies and Laddies, is what he already is!!
Talented, but I thought'n an overrated "gadget guy", one who I gave a 4th/5th Round Grade to, and who, after the Jets spent #79 on'm, lasted only one year before they cut'm loose. That's about the quickest Bust there's ever been!!
SuperBeast! Went early 3rd Round in 2017, but I gave'm a Top 10 Grade! Despite his Division 47 Pedigree, he was immediately productive, just as I knew he would be, and was rapidly ascending to Stardom in 2018, before getting hit was a major injury, which ended that year and rendered 2019 a Recover Year...except that he burned right through the recover and launched Stardom in 2019, racking up 1161 Yards and 11 TouchDowns! My man! Sooooooooo happy for this kid! Boo yah!!
Cooper Kupp is of course my favorite of'm all!