Offensive Tackle ~ LeRaven Clark ~ Texas Tech Red Raiders ~ 6051/315
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...until The Only Games That Really Matter.
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.
This is how I break things down, when I'm evaluating Offensive Tackles:
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 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 Blocking: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
Pass Blocking: Power, Agility, Combat Skills, Processing Speed, and Motor.
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 in the Passing Game. The capacity to Stand one's Ground.
* Drive Power in the Running Game. The capacity to drive your man back.
* Fluidity, above all things: Core Agility & Flexibility makes everything possible.
* Launch Velocity ~ Speed into Contact off the Snap.
* Acceleration ~ Short Speed or Quickness.
* Frame ~ Arms, Hands, and above all: WingSpan.
* Field Vision ~ Reacting to the Tactical LandScape: It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Positioning ~ It's all about Angles & Leverage.
* Paw Persistence ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* FootWork ~ RPMs: Activity & Persistence.
* Processing Speed ~ Field Vision. Reading Defensive Schemes quickly and effectively, and finding 2nd Level Targets.
* Motor ~ Intensity and Duration.
* Power ~ Drive Power to project Power in the Running Game.
* Agility ~ especially Acceleration DownField or to the Flank.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
* Power ~ Anchoring Strength to reject Power in the Passing Game.
* Agility ~ especially Fluidity to Mirror the Pass Rusher.
* Combat Skills
* Processing Speed
Agility: Tremendous Launch Velocity and Acceleration and outstanding Fluidity.
Combat Skills: Lousy. Magnficent WingSpan, but raw Mechanics.
Intangibles: Exceptional. Excellent Field Vision. Strong Motor.
Run Blocking: Raw but tremendous Potential in a Zone Scheme, as his combination of extraordinary Agility and excellent Field Vision could translate into a disruptive, destructive Force, if he can develop those Mechanics.
Pass Blocking: Even greater Potential as a Pass Protector. He has a lot of Work to do to overcome the unusual Mechanics that he brings from Texas Tech, and his Power is a Liability, but that kind of Agility combined with that phenomenal WingSpan can overcome a lot of Problems, and if he can develop those Mechanics, his Potential is vast.
But even seen through that Prism, Clark's Potential is both clear...and flat out phenomenal.
I'm reading a lot of divergent opinions on Clark, and I'd be the last one to tell you that he's a sure thing. Combat Skills will be the making or breaking of Clark, and if he doesn't master them, his Career may be over before it begins.
The only thing on his Resume that suggests that that'll be a problem is of course Historical Precedent: They are currently pretty damned raw, even after 4 Years at Texas Tech...But of course Texas Tech itself is the reason why I am relatively optimistic about his Prospects of developing them, for the Red Raiders do indeed practice unusual Technique.
LeRaven Clark is by all Accounts an exceptionally smart kid, which certainly manifests itself on the BattleField, not the least in the fact that he has started not at Right Guard and at Left Tackle ~ an highly underappreciated accomplishment ~ and the fact that he hasn't missed a Game in 4 Years speaks clearly to his Tenacity and Dedication.
Raw Mechanics are certainly a sizable Risk, and my Report will reflect that.
But this is a kid who I'd roll the dice on.
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!!