Wolf Tackle ~ Jonathan Allen ~ Alabama Crimson Tide ~ 6025/286
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:
Wolves ~ Wolves are the smaller, faster Defensive Tackles. Whereas Grizzlies will generally be counted on to command Double Teams and stop the Inside Run, Wolves will usually be asked to penetrate the Pocket and disrupt, especially against the Pass. The Prototype would be somewhere around 6015/300 or less, and they're getting smaller.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Wolves 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.
When evaluating Wolf Tackles, 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: Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Rush: 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: Awesome. Tremendous Torso Power and outstanding Core Power. Can Anchor, can Drive, can do it all.
Agility: Exceptional. Exceptional Launch Velocity. Tremendous Fluidity. Adequate Acceleration.
Frame: Impressive. This depends greatly on his Role, of course: the question is whether he's a Lion End who slips inside on Passing Downs ~ a 50/50 Hybrid ~ or a Wolf Tackle who can move around all over the Formation but is generally deployed most effectively as a Speed Tackle. I think that Allen is best deployed at Speed Tackle ~ that's "3 Tech" to you Earthlings!! ~ and in that Interior Line Context his Height is all right and his WingSpan is exceptional.
Combat Skills: Phenomenal. Allen has clearly done a lot of Work over the Years. His Paw Positioning, Lateral Leverage, and FootWork are all outstanding, his Pass Rush Repertoire is awesome, and his Paw Persistence is amazing.
Processing Speed: Tremendous. Consistently Diagnoses with an high level of Speed and Precision, both against the Run and against the Pass. Here, too, Allen has clearly invested Tons of Time, Training, and Tape Study.
Motor: Extraordinary. Highly conditioned and relentless. I ought be noted that in Alabama's Fabulous Front 7 of the last few Years, Depth of Talent ran so deep that Allen and his Mates were highly rotated. But his intensity on Tape and his unmistakably high level of Conditioning are plain to see. Here, too, he's clearly Done The Work.
Run Defense: Excellent. He lacks the Acceleration to boast an elite level of Range, but in all other regards, his Game is outstanding: Awesome Anchoring Strength at the Point of Attack. Tremendous Combat Skills to shed Blocks. Terrific Processing Speed to quickly sniff out the direction of the Play. And an outstanding Motor to chase it down.
Pass Rush: Extraordinary. Allen's combination of Launch Velocity and Power is terrifying in its own right. But compounding that devastating Advantage with his phenomenal Combat Skills is what Offensive Linemen's Nightmares are made of. Acceleration to close is all that Allen lacks, otherwise he'd be a genuine Threat to break the Sack Record.
His Market Value had been rattling around the Top 3 for a few months, with #1 Overall being a very real Possibility, but then came news about multiple Shoulder Surgeries, followed by a mediocre Combine and an indifferent Pro Day. And now there're whispers that his Stock while slide into the middle of the 1st Round...So I'd estimate it at Top 10.
Jonathan Allen has the Potential to rack up Double Digit Sacks or better on a Yearly basis while providing extraordinarily Stout Run Defense at The Point of Attack as well as quality Range In Pursuit. He's a vocal Leader and a genuine one, because he's quite obviously invested Oceans of Time in busting his Ass Year, after Year, after Year.
Am I talking about Trajectory? Hell, yeah: Jonathan Allen's incredibly advanced levels of Field Vision and Combat Skills, as well as his extraordinary Conditioning and his relentless Motor leave absolutely no doubt either of his tremendous Intelligence or'f his insatiable Drive. Good Health granted, he'll become the very best that he can become ~ as will'is TeamMates, if he has anything to say about it!! ~ and what he can possibly become is great.
* Update: Hmmm...The Market let'm slip from the Top 3 into the Middle 1st Round, presumably because of those multiple Shoulder Surgeries, and Upon Further Review, I agree with'm: He's really pushed his Frame since joining The Crimson Tide a few Years ago at 245 Pounds, and all that gives me a sense that he'll be especially susceptible to the effects of Wear and Tear as the Years pile up, and possibly at a younger Age than his Peers. He's a phenomenal Prospect and FootBall Player, but as I am assessing the Value of his prospective Services, and foreseeing a larger Danger than is usually the case that he'll wear out or miss a lot of Snaps before he hits 30 ~ during his Prime Years ~ I feel that an attenuation of his Value to his prospective Team is called for. I previously had'm graded Top 10.
Grateful Thanks, as always, for the crucial Work done by the folks at Draft BreakDown!!
This is not is even remotely a Complaint, mind you, but rather a Warning: Caveat Emptor!!