Prospect evaluation is subjective. Tomorrow we will be discussing certain football actions that provide the proper perspective for the natural athletic ability and current skill set of Class of 2016.
Here are some of the words I’ll be throwing around during the UK NSD Show:
— Fluid hips: Hip flexibility is vital at every position. Stiffness is not good and limits change of direction, lateral movement, speed, and separates good players from SEC level athletes. Flexibility is critical in speed.
— Comfortable playing in space: Mainly applies to linebackers. “Playing in space” describes the area away from line of scrimmage in which one-on-one pass coverage and tackling are required.
— Operative in run pursuit: Defensive terminology encompassing effort and angles taken to make both line of scrimmage and down field tackles. Provides a look at Football IQ.
— Explosive stance release: Relates to offense and defense. This term paints the picture of the rapid and explosive nature in which the player leaves his stance to insert himself into football action. Slow is bad. Adequate means work is needed. Explosive is optimal. Also provides perspective into aggressive or physical mindset.
— Quick surge to engagement: Another reference to explosiveness and a player’s ability for rapid burst to tackle or block. For line of scrimmage players, it’s telling of their change of direction and their ability to make quick decisions that lead to blocks/tackles. For defensive backs and receivers, this tests their skill to break on the football for a catch/interception.
— Nasty by nature, seeks contact: The football field is no place for the timid, but there’s a difference in engaging in contact out of necessity and seeking contact due to a nasty streak. The description “nasty” is a badge of honor on the football field. This trait is rarer than you would imagine and separates those that love being a football player, from those that love the game of football.
— Quick play diagnosis to action time: Used mainly to gauge how linebackers and safeties read run/pass and act upon instinct. The faster the reaction, the closer to the line of scrimmage tackles occur. In the passing game, critical for safeties to possess this trait to assess play action situations.
— Comprehends blocking up to second-level defender: Offensive lineman are called upon to make initial block on the line of scrimmage, then move to the second level to interfere with the linebacker’s pursuit. Not a natural action, this requires instinct and is a part of player development. This aspect is normally executed more efficiently by veteran or technically sound OL.
— Heavy-handed initial punch: Offensive and defensive line term. Much like a boxer, both punch their opponents coming out of their stance. “Heavy” hands describe the violent and powerful nature a player’s hands make contact when going from stance to engaging blocker/defender. Think knock-out punch.
— Athletic bursts of pursuit speed: On defensive line of scrimmage play, the ability to run forty yards is not a prerequisite. However, the ability to provide quick bursts of speed to tackle is mandatory. The game in the trenches is won by quick bursts and rapid closing speed within the parameters of the line of scrimmage. With skill players, this term is often described as catch-up speed or the ability to close-in on the catch.
— Fluid open-field run motion: A natural trait that cannot be taught. Think of Randall Cobb and how he appears to glide, rather than labor as he runs with the football. This also applies to hip flexibility, change of direction and cutting ability.
— Navigates line of scrimmage traffic: Linebackers either get caught up in the wash or work their way through blockers to find the football. Thus, navigating line of scrimmage traffic is the ability to react to run/pass keys to find a way to avoid being blocked and make the tackle.
These are just a few. Stay tuned.