Lion ~ Kristjan Sokoli ~ Buffalo Bulls ~ 6045/289
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:
Lions ~ This is my term for Defensive Linemen with the Size of a smaller and faster Defensive Tackle and the WingSpan of a Defensive End. Like the Grizzlies, they can line up at End in a 34 or at Tackle in a 43, or just about anywhere in either Formation, and conceivably play either 1 Gap or 2 Gap. The Prototype would be about 6050/300 or less.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Lions 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 Lions, 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 still fails if you can't dig in your heels. But Core Power enables a Defensive Lineman to project Power in the Passing Game and to reject Power in the Running 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 stiff and lumbering out there.
Combat Skills: Paw Power, Mechanics ~ Hand Speed & Positioning ~ and of course: Frame.
Intangibles: Processing Speed and Motor. Processing Speed or Diagnostic Velocity is about how quickly and effectively one Reads & Reacts to how the Rapidly Roiling Tactical LandScape effects Blocking Schemes, and Motor is about Endurance and Drive: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, and Processing Speed.
Pass Rush: Power, Agility, and Combat Skills.
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 in the Pass Rush.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Paw Power ~ The Power & Speed of the initial Punch.
* Paw Velocity ~ How active the Hands are.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Frame ~ Above all: WingSpan.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Rapidly Reading & Reacting to the Offense.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Combat Skills
Agility: Ditto. Playing Nose imposed a severe and savage Liability on Sokoli, setting him against Foes who were routinely Shorter yet Heavier than'm, which produced a Double Dirty Dog Leverage Liability. And when you're fighting for your Life against Double Teams on top of that, even a Beast can look pretty fragile ~ not exactly Circumstances Calculated to unleash your extraordinary Athletic Ability!! Moderate Launch Velocity but phenomenal Fluidity & Acceleration.
Combat Skills: Impressive and potentially Tremendous. Moderate Mechanics but phenomenal Frequency and relentless Persistence to go with an excellent WingSpan. He just needs Time & Training...and to get off the Nose!!
Intangibles: Impressive. Mediocre Field Vision, but a clearly Intelligent kid and one with an excellent Motor.
Run Defense: Impressive and potentially extraordinary. He needs to move to Lion, of course, so I'm extrapolating a great deal, as I do, and it would presumably take Time & Training for'm to acclimate to a new Role and to develop his Mechanics, but the intrinsic Power, Agility, Combat Skills, and Motor are there for potential Greatness.
Pass Rush: Ditto.
There is indeed a very Ethereal, Esoteric Element to this Scouting and Evaluation bit ~ a lot of Extrapolation.
And one Intriguing Inference that I'm drawing ~ an Aspect of this Game that's becoming increasingly clear in my Perception as I read the Views of others and compare their notes to mine ~ is that there seems to be among many ~ a Vast and Overwhelming Majority, in fact ~ an almost implacable Dedication to Tape, to the extent that Power and Agility Measurements are treated with contempt and disdain ~ if they're even acknowledged at all.
At the other end of the Spectrum are of course the Combine & Pro Day Junkies...But as I surf this magnificent InterNet, the impression that I generally get is the folks most interested in such things tend to be relatively rational.
Mind you: Rational men can infer more Value than truly warranted into Raw Power & Agility, and in my Inexperience, I have certainly done so. Whether or not I have now accurately attenuated my Perceptions, History will try to decide.
But my Perception comes from Far Off The Grid, and it can be an Advantage.
Based on Tape alone, Kristjan Sokoli is hardly dazzling ~ a UFA Grade Prospect.
But if you actually factor in all the Factors, he is very intriguing indeed.
First off, there is the fact that he was miscast as of all things a Nose Tackle at Beefalo. Kristjan Sokoli, for those scoring at Home, is not a squat, beefy Beast. Playing Nose Tackle was extremely detrimental to'm, because guys who are far too Light and far too tall to play Nose Tackle, as Sokoli is, look incredibly weak relative to their real Power.
Second off and last: Oh my God those Power & Agility Numbers.
I believe that if you open your mind to the Context of Sokoli's being forced to play way out of Position and Roll The Tape, you see enough to confirm those amazing Numbers. Is that an Ethereal Extrapolation? Absolutely.
I'd be the last to try to tell you that there's any Certainty that Kristjan Sokoli and his Coaches will ultimately be successful in unlocking and unleashing his magnificent combination of Power and Agility, but magnificent it is.
Sokoli projects as a Convertible, as a 34 Defensive End and 43 Defensive Tackle Hybrid, one as potentially destructive in either role as the other and with equally phenomenal Potential as either Run Defender or Pass Rusher.
If he'd been at Wisconsin, playing Lion as he should've been over the last 4 Years, I believe that we'd be reading far more Justin Watt comparisons today that just those from Fellow Draft Revolutionary Zach Whitman.
Does Kristjan Sokoli possess the Deep Well of Intelligence and Drive that it's going to take to advance all the way from the Outer Fringe of the NFL, all the way up the Ranks to earn the Snaps to unleash his Potential?? Does he have the Intelligence and the relentless Passion to do all the Work that that long Journey will demand of'm??
I don't know. He doesn't display very impressive Field Vision. But in watching his InterViews, he is clearly a very intelligent kid ~ aside from the Incalculable Idiocy of considering Peyton Manning the best, a bewilderingly common Failing with Earthlings ~ and his Motor is excellent...And one other Factor that affects my Trajectory Calculus is this:
Kristjan Sokoli is an Immigrant, having been born in the exquisitely beautiful land of Illyria, which for some Ungodly reason you Earthlings insist on referring to as "Albania." I am a Student of Human Nature, and it seems to me that there is an overwhelming tendency for Immigrants, who have the enormous Intellectual Advantage of Direct Knowledge of the enormous contrast between America's Opportunities and those of their Birth Nation, to work their Asses off.
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!!