Bandit ~ Trent Watt ~ Wisconsin Badgers
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:
Bandits ~ This is my term, derived from Defensive Schemes, for Players with the WingSpan for the Defensive Line yet who, unlike Dragons, lack the Size to play there regularly, because they can't be expected to Anchor against the Run.
They are thus the right Size though a bit tall to play MidFielder and can generally do so, but I believe are optimally employed as Wild Cards, deployed all over the Formation from Snap to Snap, usually in the murky, shifty region between the Defensive Line and the MidFielders, usually standing up, and generally giving no clue as to their Intentions.
I believe that the Bandit, whatever he's called in a given Formation, stands at the very EpiCenter of the disruptive Changes that Defensive Formations are undergoing today. Their unique combination of Size & Speed offers precisely that Wild Card Variable that I believe is potentially priceless for Defenses to compete and indeed to excel in the incessantly and rapidly evolving Strategic LandScape of the 21st Century. The Prototype would be around 6030/245 or so, I'd say.
As the ultimate Defensive Hybrid, Bandits could quite conceivably Rush the Passer, Blitz the Run, or Drop into Coverage on any given play, and from virtually any alignment on the Line or in the BackField. They won't anchor against the Run very effectively, they won't overwhelm with Power in their Pass Rush, and they're not built to Turn & Burn with WideOuts in Coverage, but they are in fact optimally built to conceivably compete effectively in all three Facets of the Game.
Of course, where and how any given Coach chooses to deploy his Players is his Business. Players that I characterize as Bandits 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 Bandits, 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: Intensity and Stamina: How much Work has been put into Conditioning, and how it manifests itself.
Run Defense: All the Above, applied.
Pass Coverage: Ditto.
Pass Rush: Double Dirty Dog 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: Impressive and potentially OutStanding. Watt was recruited as a Tight End, only switched to Defense in 2015, and didn't get Starter's Snaps until just last Year, so he got an extremely late start in converting Intrinsic Power into Functional Power, something that only Thousands of Reps can accomplish. I point this out because his Vertical Jump ~ and his Broad Jump ~ at The Combine were flat out sensational. The question is if that will ultimately translate.
Agility: See above. On Game Tape, Watt's Launch Velocity, Acceleration, and Closing Speed are all impressive, though his Fluidity is mediocre. But while his 40 Time and 10 Yard Split were merely tremendous, his Short Shuttle and 3 Cone were magnificent, and I'm here to tell you that while the Gutters are indeed littered with the Corpses of Combine Warriors who ultimately failed to translate those Numbers to the Field of Battle, most of those Prospects weren't dealing with an extremely recent Conversion to their Position, which translates to a lack of what Earthlings call Muscle Memory.
Frame: Excellent. His Height & Weight Combo aren't optimal, but his sprawling WingSpan is awesome.
Combat Skills: Excellent and potentially phenomenal. Excellent Paw Placement and Lateral Leverage, terrific FootWork, and amazing Paw Persistence. Competitive Pass Rushing Repertoire. For'm to've already advanced to this level of Development in essentially one healthy Season is astonishing, and bodes extremely well for the Future.
Processing Speed: Exceptional and potentially outstanding. Improved substantially over the course of his only Season.
Motor: Magnificent Intensity and Stamina.
Run Defense: Impressive and potentially awesome. He's got the Intrinsic Power and Agility and the Frame to develop into a Dominant Force both at The Point of Attack and In Pursuit, once he gets enough Time and Training.
Pass Coverage: Competitive and potentially excellent. The raw Agility, the Field Vision, and the WingSpan are clearly there.
Pass Rush: Excellent and potentially sensational. I've read more than one Comparison to Clay Matthews, which I believe to be a bit off, for Matthews was 12 Pounds lighter in 2009, which is a huge Difference...But as far as Potential Impact as a Pass Rusher? Yeah, Watt's combination of raw Power, Speed, and WingSpan are every bit as good.
Elite raw Power, Agility, and Frame. Raw. Smart. Driven. StarBound.
Trent Watt is of course the Brother of Justin Watt, to whom I gave the highest Grade I could come up with in my amusingly awkward inaugural Scouting Season. And for my Money, he's got the same Sky High Potential in terms of an insane combination of Power, Agility, and Frame, and both the Intelligence and the Drive to fulfill his vast Potential.
He's only got the one Year of Experience, and he's got some Injury History, and I'm here to tell you that I'm not worried about the Injuries, which he's moved well beyond, and that the fact that he's developed his Combat Skills and Field Vision to such a remarkable degree in basically one Year is astonishing...and tells me all that I need to know about'm.
Trajectory: Talent x Intelligence x Drive = Potential/Risk, and Watt's Score is celestially high.
Pay the man!!
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!