WolfPack ~ 6042/301
The Gutters are riddled with the Corpses of Teams that were built around so-called "skill" Players ~ teams that delighted their Fantasy FootBall Fans every Year, all the way until January...when The Only Games That Really Matter are played.
It is then, of course, that the Capacity ~ or lack thereof ~ to Move The Chains and protect the QuarterBack against PlayOff Caliber Defenses rears its ugly head. And another Team built for Fantasy FootBall bites the dust.
I impart enormous importance upon Offensive Guards in my joyfully twisted World View of FootBall: Right up there with QuarterBacks, Defensive Tackles, and Centers in their potential Impact on The Only Games That Really Matter.
These are the Aspects of their Games that I place greatest emphasis on, when evaluating Offensive Guards:
Power. Above all: Core Power. Upper body Strength is important, but Core Power, from the Knees to the Ribs, is absolutely crucial. All the upper body strength in the world still fails if you can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables a Lineman to project Power in the Running Game and to reject Power in the Passing Game. And those Players who invest the time and effort to develop superior Core Power are far likelier to enjoy sustained good Health and stay on the Field.
Agility. Lateral 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 stiff and lumbering out there.
Combat Skills. Mechanics. Launch Velocity, Paw Power, and Technique.
Intangibles. Diagnostic Capacity, Processing Speed, and Motor. How effectively he masters Spatial Diagnostics & Angles, how rapidly he recognizes and implements Blocking Schemes based on changing Defensive Tactics, and of course: Drive. How badly he wants it. These are of course difficult things to assess, but it's crucial to at least try to.
My notion of a Dream Guard would be one who combines all these traits but with great emphasis on Agility ~ a truly Athletic Offensive Guard who can run Power Sweeps all day long, as Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston once did with Vince Lombardi's Packers on their way to no less than 5 Championships in 7 glorious years!!
Agility. Outstanding. Tremendous Launch Velocity off the Snap, impressive Fluidity, and superior Acceleration.
Combat Skills. Mediocre. Doesn't extend his arms very well. And he'll need to swing inside to Guard from Tackle.
Intangibles. Excellent. Outstanding Motor.
Bitonio launches off the Snap as rapidly as anyone in this Class. I am not especially impressed with his Core Power, not at this stage, anyway, nor am I enamored with his Combat Skills, but his remarkable Launch Velocity not only give him a consistently large edge in Combat, it speaks to the physical potential to develop Core Power.
He's raw, but he's a smart kid with a great Motor, and that terrific Launch Velocity is an Ace in the Hole.
He'll need to develop that Core Power, but Intelligence + Great Motor tells me that he's a very safe bet to do so.
And when he does, I believe he'll develop into one of the best Offensive Guards in the League.
Thanks, as always, to the extraordinary Work by the men of Draft BreakDown!!
Consensus Market Value