Below are the Draft Values I created at Carolina and St. Louis.  All 32 NFL clubs have similar guidelines when it comes to critical factors and position specifics for each position.  These are used by NFL personnel executives, when grading a player’s DNA (film), and how size, speed, injuries and scheme may affect draft boards in all war rooms.

Having an elite quarterback at the helm is every franchise’s No. 1 priority. I try to avoid the comparison game. Not only will that get you in trouble, it basically gives talent evaluators a comfort zone in which they feel good about a player instead of grading them for the attributes and skill set they bring to the table and how those skills can be utilized at the next level within the team scheme.

Quarterbacks

Critical Factors

Football Intelligence: Student of the game; film breakdown and playbook memorization. Football instincts with read reaction quickness and the ability to process information or situations fast. View the game like a coordinator. Help assimilate game plans.

Mental Awareness: Intelligence, ability to take hard coaching, understanding and identifying coverages and ability to read defensive fronts on the move. Make quick and good decisions while under pressure.

Leadership: Natural born leader, most respectful leader on the team, commands respect in the huddle.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-cost attitude, with a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse and pressure situations, with the will to win. He has confidence in himself and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: This most unprotected player in the game must have a high level of toughness. A clutch player to consistently deliver under pressure with ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations and in red zone with consistent results.

Arm Strength: The ability to spin the ball with a tight spiral, good velocity and zip, with the ability to deliver underneath with touch. Has deep ball accuracy with very little air under ball.

Third-Down Efficiency: Sustain drive production, clutch situational habits under pressure to convert.

Size/Strength: Does he meet the requirements for the position? Can he take the punishment and still deliver production?

Position Specifics

Height

Minimum – 6010

General Range – 6010 – 6040

Weight

Heavy, has a hard time in mobility and escape

Lighter the better if strong enough to handle pounding

Minimum – 210

General Range – 210 – 240

Speed

Minimum – 4.90 or faster

All organizations view intelligence differently except when it comes to drafting a quarterback with a low test score and certainly not a player who is incapable of leading a team. These two areas are critical to the success of a QB in the NFL.

To have potential for success as a QB in the NFL, a player should grade out high for Accuracy, Competitiveness, Mental Awareness, Arm Strength, Size and Production. A player who grades out high in all these areas should be given special attention.

QB

1. Accuracy as a passer – then Arm Strength

2. Intelligence

3. Competitor and Leader

4. Athlete and Mobility

Athletic Ability: Quickness, speed and ability to change direction with burst. Mobility is a plus, allowing

production beyond the LOS.

Accuracy: Split into two categories – 1. Short: ability to stick it on the receiver, accuracy and touch is

more important than strength, along with anticipation and timing of routes. 2. Long: throw to an area

and allow receivers to run under the ball or the ability to hit the receiver in stride with good ball

placement.

Set-up quickness: Quickness from under center in traditional offense with smooth transition to get into

drops.

Ball Handling: Footwork and ball protection on play-action fakes.

Drop: Foot quickness, punch step with smooth stride tree-, five-, seven-step drops with strong anchor.

Look off safety in drops with eyes, shoulders and pump fake.

Delivery: Rhythm and timing are very important, with weight transfer and foot balance (18-25) inches,

any wider then that is considered over striding, which effects a quarterbacks release point and accuracy.

Is follow-through like a pitcher (body weight ending over post leg)?

Poise in Pocket: Stand tall in pocket under pressure keeping eyes down field on receivers with good field

vision. Chuck and duck balls under pressure, takes too many sacks, gives up on third option

Escape Ability: good feet to escape and buy time in or outside pocket.  Can avoid pressure, lacks feet to

escape, plotter and heavy footed, inconsistent to escape and buy time.

Release: Can throw from different platforms with release over ear, shoulder or sidearm sling, passing off

one foot.

Arm Strength: Spin football with velocity turn out zip, deep ball. Does the quarterback use a lot of hip

torque or all upper body arm and shoulder thrower. Throw the ball with effortless motion.

Pocket Awareness: Feeling pressure to step up and elude outside pressure off edge or up the middle

squeeze.

Decision Maker: A good decision-maker from the line of scrimmage to audible out of poor situations or

change plays to gain an advantage and manipulate the defense.

Running Skills: A dual threat QB with downfield running skills and positive production, Has the skill set

to create another added dimension offensively.  Strictly a pocket passer limited production beyond LOS.

Protections: Recognize and identify pressure from pre snap reads vs. blitz packages from base defense

and sub packages.

Clock Management: Two-minute drill, train QB like a coach or coordinator to handle and think clearly in

adverse situations.

Voice: Strength and clarity.

Hand size: The larger the better. 9 and under is considered small by scouting standards

runningbacks

Critical Factors

Character: off-field issues (arrests, drugs, domestic incidents, guns, tickets, etc).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Mental Awareness: Intelligence, ability to take hard coaching, understanding role on team and position assignments.

Leadership: Natural born leader, locker room guy, community involvement.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-costs attitude; a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse and pressure situations. He has confidence in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: This most unprotected player in the game must have a high level of toughness.  A clutch player that consistently delivers under pressure.  Has ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations as a runner, receiver and blocker.

Blocking: Attitude and temperament, three points of contact, strength/explosion; lead blocker, pass blocking, blocking on the move; toughness, aggressiveness, willingness; 3-E (eye, ear, elbow).

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position.  Long term, short term, aggressive rehab

Receiving Skills: RAC (run after catch) elusiveness; vision in open space; playmaker; catch-in-a-crowd toughness; production.

Position Specifics

Height

Minimum – 5095

General Range – 5095 – 6010

Weight

If under 200 he must be an exceptional runner

Minimum – 200

General Range –  200 – 250

Speed

Minimum – 55

Cut off – 4.60 unless exceptional runner

General Range – 4 – 4.55

Quickness to press LOS is very important

There are three (3) types of halfbacks, each of whom can find a place on an NFL roster and make a contribution.

  1. Multi-Dimensional Back: Solid combination of Run, Blocking and Receiving skills.  Top prospects will grade out high in Critical Factors and Position Specifics.  Kick-off return ability is a plus.
  1. Runner Type: Running the football is the best thing he does, and maybe the only thing he does.  Top prospects in this category must grade out high in Run skills, Size, Speed.  Good YAC (yards after contact) skills with production.
  1. Third Down Back: This category is for the smaller running back that is a Runner and Receiver, and is an adequate blocker, willing but falls short in defeating defender at POA (point of attack) due to size and the lack of aggressiveness to finish.  This is not a melting pot for small backs.   This prospect must have Good Hands, Speed and Elusiveness to make several defenders miss in open or tight space.  He must have enough intelligence to handle all the sub-packages and have some return skills (Punt return or K.O.R).  Examples of this type of back are former NFL players Darren Sproles, Dave Meggett or Eric Metcalf.
  1. Compact, muscular body
  2. Low center of gravity, good balance
  3. Burst, Acceleration and Initial Quickness
  4. Intelligence and FBI
  5. Good hand use and RAC skills

3rd Down Back

  1. Elusiveness with exceptional quickness
  2. Excellent hands
  3. Good Speed

Fullbacks (FBA/FBB)

Height

Minimum – 5110

General Range – 5110 – 6030

Weight

Minimum –

FBA (Athletic) 230

FBB (Blocker) 245

Speed

Minimum –

FBA (Athletic) 65

FBB (Blocker) 75

Quickness is more important than speed

The Fullback position is a dying breed but still very important to the running game, because they handle several different blocking assignments versus multiple fronts and blitz protection.  This prospect must be intelligent and extremely tough.

FBA

Big OH (Athletic)

Run

Catch

Block

FBB

Blocker (Physical toughness type)

Block

Run

Catch

Initial Quickness: Quick start out of stance to press LOS (line of scrimmage) with burst/acceleration both laterally and at POA (point of attack).

Run Instincts: Vision in/out of hole, read/reaction to blocking and flow to open space; create angles with anticipation and setting up defender with cutting ability. Nose for the goal line.

Inside Run: Courage, quickness to press line of scrimmage, burst and acceleration through the hole; BYOB (be your own blocker); pad level; strength/explosion; balance; effort; YAC (yards after contact); power; slasher; pick and slide; upright high knee; short-yardage runner; production.

Outside Run: Lateral quickness with speed to bounce and turn corner; big-play speed; gear change; cutting ability; change of direction; burst and acceleration; production; vision; balance and body control.

Elusiveness: Ability to make several defenders miss with cutting ability and restart quickness; cutting ability in open and tight space; make defender miss in open/tight space; quickness in cutting in tight space; ability to string several cuts together in a single run.

Speed: Straight line; one gear with build-up acceleration; breakaway threat; explosive full speed in two steps; never caught from behind, speed tops out early, quicker then fast.

Ball Control: Swings ball outside of frame when cutting or in traffic; two hands on goal line.

Fumbler: Courage; carelessness; in/out of traffic; physical make-up, lack of high and tight technique.

Routes: Ability to avoid defenders in route, type (cross, out, swing, screen etc); gathers self; quickness out of break with separation.

Adjust: Flexibility to adjust to poorly thrown balls, contort and aggressive.

Hands: Natural receiving skills, soft or hard; extends to catch outside of frame; body catcher; snatcher; cradle catcher.

Break Tackles: YAC (yards after contact) production; strength and toughness; exploding at POA; natural run instincts after contact.

Lower Body: Large thighs, buttocks, strength and explosion in lower extremity; powerful hips; good vertical jump.

Special Teams: Coverage ability; return skills.

wide receivers

NFL standards when it comes to the receiver position always covet size and speed.  This mentality pushes those players above a shorter and or slower player, in many cases there is a total disregard for production. I break up receivers into three categories so that shorter or slower playmakers don’t get lost in the process, allowing them to receive the final grades they deserve. A receiver with good height, weight and speed is considered clean, or WR. A receiver lacking the idea speed for the position (4.55 or slower) is slotted in the WRs category, and receivers with diminished height (5-9 or shorter) are tagged and put in the category of WRz. A lot of teams dropped Anquan Boldin, now a member of the San Francisco 49ers, out of the first three rounds after he ran a 4.60 on grass in 2003. But, when you turn on his DNA (film) you see a player who played faster than timed and had RAC (run after catch) skills that were excellent and yielded very good production vs. faster timed defenders.

During my 15 years in the league I quickly understood there is no perfect size for a football player, and this is why I break it down this way. Blue players (playmakers and difference-makers) come in all sizes and speeds. I also understand that if you draft a lot of short players, you will eventually have a short team. Likewise, if there are too many slow players on the roster, you have built a slow team. All 32 teams have a scheme fit and positional draft guidelines that they strictly follow when building their roster and championship foundation.

Critical Factors

Character: off-field issues (arrests, drugs, domestic incidents, guns, tickets, etc).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Mental Awareness: Intelligence, ability to take hard coaching, understanding role on team and position assignments.

Leadership: Natural born leader, locker room guy, community involvement.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-costs attitude; a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse and pressure situations. He has confidence in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: This most unprotected player in the game must have a high level of toughness.  A clutch player that consistently delivers under pressure.  Has ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations as a runner, receiver and blocker.

Blocking: Attitude and temperament, three points of contact, strength/explosion; lead blocker, pass blocking, blocking on the move; toughness, aggressiveness, willingness; 3-E (eye, ear, elbow).

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position.  Long term, short term, aggressive rehab

Receiving Skills: RAC (run after catch) elusiveness; vision in open space; playmaker; catch-in-a-crowd toughness; production.

Position Specifics (WR/WRs/WRz)

Height

Minimum – 5100

Weight

Minimum – 175

Anything above 210 with production is special

Speed

Minimum – 4.55

Cut off – 4.60

Speed and quickness are critical factors unless skill set are exceptional.  Keep in mind that while there are exceptions to the rule, be careful not to make every 4.60 or slower receiver the exception.  There are three (3) types of receivers who can play and contribute at the NFL level.

  1. WR – Clean: This receiver has the height, weight, and speed.  He is productive and can run an assortment of NFL routes with good RAC skills. Grades can range all over the board, but height, weight and speed make this a clean receiver
  2. WRz – Short: This receiver differs only in size from the WO (Clean) receiver.  He has the speed, production, and the ability to run an assortment of routes with RAC skills.  Most short quick receivers have return skills for the next level.  What we are looking to avoid here is drafting a lot of short or WOz type receivers.  If you draft a lot of short players you have a short teamThe cut-off is 5100.
  3. WRs – Speed Deficient: This is the Possession/Slot receiver with size, but lacks the ideal speed for the position.  He must have the ability to get physical inside and not get pushed around.  He should have exceptional hands and possibly help on special teams as a return man.  What we’re looking to avoid here is drafting a lot of slow or WOs receivers.  If you draft a lot of slow players you have a slow teamThe cut off is 4.55

Start: Quickness and explosiveness out of stance.

Initial quickness: Initial movement out of stance, .

Release: Hand combat and escapability; strength/explosion against bump; body language and head fake, elude press man, shake and avoid off LOS.

Burst/Acceleration: Increase acceleration into route.

Speed: Playing speed in pads; one speed; long strider; gear change with acceleration; short strider.

Concentration: Courage in a crowd, across the middle; running alone.

Routes: Stride; speed and quickness in/out of cuts; sharp; round; gear down in space, sluggish, lacks separation; sideline awareness with tap shoe drag.

Separation: Quickness out of break from defender; speed to run away in space.

Catching Ability: Make the tough catch – body, cradle, trap, pure hands catcher

Ball Reaction: Find and adjust to ball in flight; track on the move.

Toughness: Ability to want and make the tough catch.

Adjustments: Physical adjustment; over shoulders; high and low; underthrown; jumping ability.

Hands: Hard/soft; sure; extend arms outside frame; strong.

Run after Catch: Vision; burst/acceleration; playmaker tight; elusiveness in space; production.

Durability: Stamina/endurance; injury history for position.

Special Teams: Return skills (KOR/PR); coverage ability; holder.

tight ends

The complete package or traditional tight end is productive as both a blocker and receiver, which I label TE. Because these tight ends don’t grow on trees, and are not being developed at the collegiate level on a consistent basis, I break down the position into three specialized categories, blocker and receiver. TEA is an athletic tight end who excels as a receiver but is inconsistent with blocking skills, has adequate in-line toughness, power and explosiveness to attack and finish. TEB is a blocking tight end who lacks natural receiving skills to release into routes down field, flashed awareness in space and the ability to catch the ball outside his frame with RAC (run after catch) production, but excels more as a blocker both in-line and in space. Finally, there’s the H-Bac – according to many, at least. I refer to this player as the MTE (move tight end), who aligns at the fullback position as the lead blocker in the I-formation, offset I-formation, or in flex motion to wham block or trap the unblocked defensive linemen.

All four tight end positions should be given the grade they deserve based on the skill sets they bring to the table, and placed on the draft board based on the value they bring to a club’s scheme. A special thanks goes out to the juniors who declared early for the 2015 NFL draft, too. Without them, this would be a very suspect class indeed.

Critical Factors

Character: Off-field issues (arrests, drug abuse, assaulting women, guns, tickets, etc.).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Mental Awareness: Intelligence, ability to take hard coaching, understanding role on team and position assignments.

Leadership: Natural-born leader, locker-room guy, community involvement.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-cost attitude, with a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse situations. He is confident in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: A clutch player to consistently deliver under pressure. His ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations as a runner, receiver or blocker.

Blocking: Attitude and temperament, strength/explosion; lead blocker; in-line; pass blocking; blocking on the move; toughness; aggressiveness; willingness; 3-E (eye, ear, elbow), flat back, strong UOH (use of hands), runs feet to finish, works well with offensive tackles on combination blocking, second-level blocking, effort; physical toughness; aggressiveness, balance; on the move from FBB or wing position; finish, ankle flex, wall off/shield blocker, falls off blocks,

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position and the ability to play hurt.

Receiving Skills: RAC (run after catch) elusiveness; vision in open space; playmaker; catch in a crowd toughness; burst to separate from defender.

Position Specifics (TE/TEA/TEB)

Height

Minimum – 6020

General Range – 6030 – 6045

Weight

Minimum –

TE (Clean) – 250

TE (Athletic) – 240

TE (Blocker) – 255

Speed

Minimum –

TE (Clean) – 4.65

TE (Athletic) – 4.65

TE (Blocker) – 4.75

Height, weight and speed combinations are very important.  A clean TE, has the combination of inline blocking, on the move blocking skills and route running skills with natural receiving skills to become a top prospect.  The prospect with size and speed that can block and catch has become somewhat of a rarity.  The TEA/TEB who is dominating in one of these areas can find a home on a roster.  What we don’t want is an average blocker who cannot run or catch, or an average receiver who cannot block.  This position has become almost a role position in NFL Offenses.

Start: Quickness and explosiveness, late out of stance.

Initial quickness: Initial movement out of stance, explosion.

Release: Escapability off LOS (line of scrimmage) to avoid defender.

Burst/Acceleration: Increase acceleration into route.

Speed: Playing speed in pads; one speed; long strider; gear change with acceleration; short strider; sluggish in movement.

Concentration: Courage in a crowd, across the middle; running alone; high point, diving effort.

Routes: Stride; speed and quickness in/out of cuts; sharp; round off; awareness of coverage recognition.

Separation: Quickness out of break from defender with burst; speed to run away in space.

Catching Ability: Make the tough catch, high/low, competitive, outside frame.

Ball Reaction: Find and adjust to ball in flight; track on the move.

Toughness: Ability to want and make the tough catch, mentally and physically to play in-line at a high level.

Adjustments: Physical; over shoulders; contort with body balance, jumping ability, diving effort.

Hands: Hard/soft; sure; extend arms; body or cradle catcher, snatch, one handed snag.

Run after Catch: Vision; burst/acceleration; playmaker; elusiveness in space; cutting, straight line, productive.

Durability: Stamina/endurance; injury history for position.

Special Teams: Coverage skills.

Interior Lineman

The center position represents the brains of the front five. For the center position, these players must have a high football IQ. In most, though not all, offenses the center will have the responsibility of calling out the middle linebacker (Mike), protections, zone and man blocking schemes, and checks as well as alerts. With that being said, a lot of NFL offensive coordinators are assigning some of those responsibilities to the quarterbacks. The OC (center) must not only be smart, he must have strength at the POA (point of attack), explosion, strong UOH (use of hands) and carry the girth to anchor vs. larger nose tackles or gap defenders aligned head up.

The OG (offensive guard) is viewed differently in certain schemes, which vary from team to team. Several teams like one side of the line to have a power guard and an athletic one. While this is a slightly old-school train of thought, having athletic, smart, powerful, explosive guards surrounding the center is the key to solidifying the middle of the offensive line, and they should be interchangeable. These players need girth, strength and lower-body explosion for drive-blocking capability, and athletic ability to pull and adjust on run plays and screens to attack defenders in space. I blended both centers and guards in the top interior offensive linemen.

Critical Factors

Character: Leader in the locker room, community involvement, off-field issues (arrests, drug abuse, assaulting women, guns etc.).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Leadership: Natural-born leader, vocal, quiet, leads by example.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all-cost attitude, with a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse situations. He is confident in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: A nasty inline blocker who consistently delivers under pressure and refuses to be defeated. Has the ability to play if injured or hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations as a blocker in tight or in open space.

Position Specifics (Centers)

Height

Minimum – 6020

General Range – 6020 – 6040

Weight

Minimum – 290

OK if under 290 coming out of college

Weight potential should be 300

Speed

Minimum – 5.10

Quickness is important

Leverage, Hand Speed, Foot Speed

What NFL personnel men are looking for is Athletic prospects that are intelligent, with size that can knock a defender off the ball and anchor on pass rush.  He needs to be smart enough to handle multiple fronts and blitz pick-ups.  He needs to be physical and mentally tough.

OC

  1. Athletic
  2. Strong legs and good base
  3. Good feet and initial quicks
  4. Intelligence – makes all line calls
  5. Hand leverage and strength
  6. Arm length

Gaurds (ROG/LOG)

Height

Minimum – 6030

General Range – 6020 – 6045

Weight

Minimum – 290

General Range – 320

Speed

Minimum – 5.20

Must be able to run

We are looking for players with size who can knock defenders off the ball and anchor on pass rush.  He must be intelligent enough to handle multiple fronts and pick-up the blitz and stunts, and athletic enough to pull and be productive on the move.  He needs to be physically and mentally tough.

ROG

  1. Size – Bulk
  2. Strength/Explosion
  3. Excellent run blocker
  4. Solid pass blocker
  5. Intelligent
  6. Flexible in lower body
  7. Arm length

LOG

  1. Size – Bulk
  2. Athletic
  3. Pulling body control in space
  4. Solid pass/run blocker
  5. Intelligent
  6. Flexible in lower body
  7. Arm length

Blocking: Attitude and temperament; three points of contact; strength/explosion; aggressiveness; willingness; flat back, runs feet to finish; works well with other offensive linemen on combination and zone blocking schemes; effort; physical toughness; balance; finish, pin and pancake; upright wall to shield, inline thumper, ability to play from both 2 & 3 point stances.

Inline: Quickness off ball; initial strength and explosion; collision blocker; ability to sustain; foot and hand quickness; balance; cut-off; reach; seal; scoop, drive, fold, wall off and chip to the second level, keep pad level down, good angles.

Second Level: Quickness to linebacker and downfield blocking skills; ability to locate and attack target on the move.

Pass Blocking: Foot quickness to slide and remain frontal of defender; hand punch and replace, strike and recoil, quickness to pass set; solid anchor; base/leverage; ensure balance; natural knee bender and ankle flex; play lower than defender; finish.

Explosion: Uncoil; pad level; hip sink and snap, ankle flex.

Adjust/Recovery: Position and turn defender; maintain contact; quickness to re-position.

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position and the ability to play hurt.

Pull/Trap: Short-area quickness; body control; long; mobility in space; adjust on the run; ability to attack target in space with production.

Recovery: Regain position to cut off inside charge; inside move; mirror; outside move; foot quickness.

Strong UOH (use of hands): Steer, stab and punch; double arm bar; single arm bar; twist and cork screw, grab inside cloth steer and drive.

Football Intelligence: High football IQ; football instincts; awareness; read reaction quickness on the move; recognition of stunts and blitz packages.

Deep Snapper: Point after/field goal and punt snap ability.

Versatility:  Ability to play multiple positions on the interior front.

Strength: Functional strength and explosion; weight room numbers.

Offensive Tackles

Character: Leader in the locker room, community involvement, off-field issues (arrest, drugs, assaulting women, guns etc.

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Leadership: Natural-born leader, vocal, quiet, leads by example.

Competitiveness: A clutch player with a win-at-all cost attitude, with a high level of intensity. He is at his best under adverse situations. He is confident in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: A nasty inline blocker to consistently deliver under pressure and refuses to be defeated. He has an ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations as a blocker in tight or open space.

Arm Length: Length for edge players ranges from 33 ½ to 36 inches.

Position Specifics (LOT/ROT)

Height

Minimum – 6040

General Range – 6040 – 6055

Weight

Minimum – 300

General Range – 300 – 325 coming out

Speed

Minimum – 5.25

Quickness and good feet

General Range – 4.90 – 5.25

Cut off is 5.25 unless really exceptional

Physical qualities are very important for this position.  We are looking for athletic prospects with size, who can knock defenders off the ball and anchor on pass rush vs. edge players. The player must be intelligent enough to handle multiple fronts, blitz and stunt situations, and a physical and mentally toughness football player.

LOT/ROT

  1. More Athletic than both ROG/LOG
  2. Long arms and lateral range
  3. Body balance and control
  4. Intelligent
  5. Flexible in lower body and ankle flex
  6. Knee bend not a waist bender

Blocking: Attitude and temperament; three points of contact, strength/explosion; aggressiveness; willingness; flat back, runs feet to finish; works well with other offensive linemen on combination and zone blocking schemes, effort; physical toughness; balance; finish, pin and pancake, upright wall to shield, inline thumper.

Inline: Quickness off ball; initial strength and explosion; collision blocker; ability to sustain; foot and hand quickness; balance; cut-off; reach; seal; scoop, drive, fold, wall off, pulling into space would be a plus.

Second Level: Quickness to linebacker and downfield blocking skills; ability to locate and attack target on the move.

Pass Blocking: Foot quickness to slide and remain frontal of defender; hand punch replace, strike and recoil, quickness to pass set; good anchor; base/leverage; ensure balance; knee bender with good ankle flex; play lower than defender; finish.

Explosion: Uncoil; pad level; hip sink and snap; ankle flex.

Adjust/Recovery: Position and turn defender; maintain contact; quickness to re-position.

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position and the ability to play hurt.

Pull/Trap: Short area quickness; body control; long; mobility in space; adjust on the run; ability to attack target in space with production.

Recovery: Regain position to cut off inside charge; inside move; mirror; outside move; foot quickness.

Strong UOH (use of hands): Steer, stab and punch; double arm bar; single arm bar; twist and cork screw.

Football Intelligence: High football IQ; football instincts; awareness; read reaction quickness on the move; recognition of stunts and blitz packages.

Deep Snapper: Point after/field goal and punt snap ability.

Strength: Functional strength and explosion; weight room numbers.

Defensive Backs

The changes on offense have forced the other side of the ball, the defense, to alter schemes to counter the multiple receiver sets and apply continuous pressure to squeeze the pocket. Having a stout defensive front seven (defensive linemen and linebackers) allows defensive coordinators to move DC (cornerbacks) and DB (safeties) around like chess pieces, working to exploit and attack the weaknesses of an offensive formation. It’s all part of building a scheme that will interrupt the timing and anticipation of the offenses seen every Sunday in the NFL, using multiple blitz packages with zone and man coverage, or a combination of both.

The DCz (undersized) corner must have better speed and overall quickness then the DC (clean) corner.  The DCz will only be on the field in nickel and dime packages only, and doesn’t have the same value as the DC.  Both corners need outstanding speed, quickness and coverage ability and possibly some value as a return man.

The general purpose of the cornerback and safety positions consists of defending against wide receivers, tight ends and running backs in passing situations, as well as bringing force in stopping the run, along with blitzing depending on the scheme. Defensive coordinators’ counter to the multiple receiver formations was substituting an additional defensive corner on passing downs, switching from their base defense to sub-packages and removing their weakest linebacker in pass coverage and also adding pass rushing defensive linemen. Having an additional cornerback on the field, totaling five, is called the “nickel back” (three defensive corners and two safeties). When six defensive backs are defending the secondary that is called “dime package” (combination of corners and safeties). In nickel coverage, this extra player is generally a corner and is aligned inside vs. the slot receiver. This player must be wired right with very good FBI (football instincts), and he is generally smaller and extremely gifted when it comes to read reaction quickness, awareness, burst and acceleration, and COD (change of direction). As a source told me, this concept was introduced by the Miami Dolphins in the late 1960s/early ‘70s, and the term “nickel defense” is now used from little league, to high school and throughout all college levels of competition.

The cornerback position has multiple alignments and must win early in the route – at all costs – with strong UOH (use of hands) to steer, redirect and disrupt the timing off the receiver. This process, of course starts at the line of scrimmage. Cornerbacks are skilled players with fluid and flexible hips to flip and mirror receivers throughout the route. They must have keen awareness, great ball skills and instinctive finish on each and every play. While the corners defend the edge, the back end of the secondary is controlled by a strong safety and free safety. These defenders are interchangeable pieces; they are larger in stature and more physical, with explosive tackling skills and ball-hawking properties. The strong safety is the enforcer, a thumping tackler who typically falls slightly short in coverage skills. With the spread offense dominating the landscape of college football, however, these defenders have developed better coverage skills and are able to cover slot receivers. The safeties’ responsibility against the run is to force and close angles to the ball carrier and take away seams in the vertical passing game. They must also possess range to help defensive corners on the edge.

Character: Leader in the locker room, community involvement, off-field issues (arrest, drugs, assaulting women, guns, tickets, etc.).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Leadership: Natural-born leader, vocal, quiet, leads by example, traffic controller in the secondary.

Competitiveness: A win-at-all-costs attitude, with a high level of intensity. He exhibits pride and is at his best under adverse situations. He is confident in himself, and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: A nasty inline defender to consistently deliver under pressure and refuses to be defeated. His ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations.

Position Specifics (CB/FS/SS)

Height

Minimum

General Range

(CB) 5097

(FS/SS) 5110

Weight

Minimum

General Range

(CB) 190 -205

(FS/SS) 205 -220

Speed

Minimum

General Range

(CB) – 4.40

(FS/SS) 4.50

Instincts: Key and diagnose; instinctive reactions; awareness of ball and receivers, ball skills with track-and-intercept production.

Communicator: Hand signals, vocal communication.

Speed: Quick feet; turn and burst deep, “quicker than fast,” build up acceleration, recovery speed.

Feet: Step and replace, quickness, COD (change of direction).

Pedal: Traditional over toe technique, open bale, foot quickness/speed; smooth hip transition; upright in movement, smooth, stiffness, struggles in/out of transition; COD with burst; stem and adjust to receiver routes; maintain cushion and accelerate pedal.

Plant/Burst: Body control and balance in plant; transition smooth without hesitation; click and drive, initial burst to close on ball and receiver in space.

Bump/Press: Physical toughness, competitive, strong UOH, arm length is critical, win at LOS, aggressive hand combat, re-route receiver.

Pursuit: Relentless chase and pursuit with production.

Man/Zone Coverage Skills: Instinctive and physical in man, zone awareness, mirror receiver short and deep; awareness of both ball and receiver in open and tight space; closing quickness; range; jumping ability; reaction quickness; catch-up speed, instant acceleration, overall quickness; proper angles, lean and locate on mirror, positive swagger, angles, range to edge, speed to defend seams.

Ball Skills: Track, play ball at highest peak, ball hawk.

Hands: Soft or hard, sure.

Blitz: Natural body balance and control, elusiveness on the move, skinny in hole or off edge, relentless effort.

Run Support: Read reaction quickness; explosive force, strong tackling skills; willingness; soft, play off blockers; toughness; production.

Tackling: Arrows through snow, accelerate through contact, sink hips and short stride with strike, effective tight/open space, strong tackling skills, breakdown sink hips and strike, wrap up; explosive; collision with wrap, chop tackler, big hitter; drag down arm tackler, run through.

Strong UOH (use of hands): Plays with arms, grab and steer, stab and punch, double arm bar, single arm bar, press and release.

Football Intelligence: High football IQ, football instincts, awareness, read reaction quickness on the move, blocking recognition of pulling and trapping offensive linemen, locate and track ball in box, nose for making plays inside box.

Strength: Functional strength and explosion, maintain leverage.

Against the run: Defeat blocks, neutralize and explode into blocker; split and defeat double team; shed blockers on the move; stack and control POA; press off, base strength with strong anchor.

Nickel/Dime Back: Lateral movement: exceptional burst and acceleration, first-step quickness; man coverage skills, clear feet and work over and through trash; COD and redirect with burst, exceptional FBI (football instincts).

Pursuit/Range: Intensity; relentless; flatten down LOS, sacrifices body; chase with short area burst and speed.

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position and the ability to play hurt.

Physicality: Collision player, thumper, violent, intimidator to evoke fear in receivers.

Confidence: Unflappable confidence, short term memory, swagger.

Special Teams: Coverage skills; ability to block punts and PATD/FG off edge, PR (punt return), KOR (kickoff return) skills with production, gunner, vice.

Linebackers

Character: Leader in the locker room, community involvement, off-field issues (arrest, drugs, assaulting women, guns, multiple campus tickets, etc.).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game, film study, playbook memorization, ability to process and regurgitate information with recall.

Leadership: Natural-born leader, vocal, quiet, leads by example, traffic controller in the secondary, Bell Cow of the defense.

Competitiveness: A win-at-all-costs attitude, with a high level of intensity. Plays with passion on every play, at his best under adverse and pressure situations, pride. He is confident in himself and his teammates have confidence in him.

Toughness: A nasty inline defender to consistently deliver under pressure and refuses to be defeated. His ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations.

Position Specifics (Mike/Will/Sam)

Height

Minimum – 6020

Weight

Minimum – 240

Speed

Minimum – 4.55

Instincts: Key and diagnose; instinctive reactions; awareness of ball and receivers, ball skills with track and intercept production.

Communicator: Hand signals, vocal communication.

Speed: Quick feet; turn and burst deep, quicker than fast, build up acceleration, recovery speed.

Feet: Lateral movement, quickness, COD (change of direction).

Pedal: Traditional over toe technique, open bale, foot quickness/speed; smooth hip transition; upright in movement, smooth, stiffness, struggles in/out of transition; COD with burst.

Plant/Burst: Body control and balance in plant; transition smooth without hesitation; click and drive, initial burst to close on ball and receiver in space.

Pursuit: Relentless chase and pursuit with production, motor runs hot, lazy backside, jogger.

Man/Zone Coverage Skills: Instinctive and physical man coverage skills vs. RB (running backs), TEA (athletic tight ends), FBA (athletic fullbacks), coverage in seam, zone awareness of receivers entering and exiting zone sectors, closing quickness; range; jumping ability; reaction quickness; catch-up speed, acceleration, overall quickness; proper angles, lean and locate on mirror, angles, natural in drops, accelerate out of turns, read progression, discipline, hip turns, route recognition, depth, plant and close, click and drive.

Ball Skills: Track, compete for balls at highest peak, ball hawk.

Sub-Package: Nickel and dime linebackers.

Receiving skills: Soft or hard, sure.

Blitz 2-point/3-point stance: Natural and instinctive movement, body balance and control, elusiveness on the move, skinny in hole or off edge, relentless effort, COD (change of direction).

Against the Run: Downhill player with force, contain and attack LOS (line of scrimmage), read reaction quickness; explosive force, strong tackling skills; willingness; soft, play off blockers; toughness; production.

Lateral Movement: First-step quickness, slide and avoid, clear feet, work over and around trash, redirect.

Leverage: Knee bend and strike, short area explosion, ability to dominate blockers, secure, shoulders square, angle tackler, wrap, seek and destroy, inside and out, hard strike.

Outside Run: Take on shed, defeat blockers on the move, protect legs.

Temperament: Attitude, controlled chaos, mad man, passionate fever.

Take on: Butt and press, shed on the move, slip, dodge, run around blockers, sluggish, gets walled and sealed.

Tackling: Arrows through snow, tackle with authority, accelerate through contact, ankle flex, short stride with strike, effective tight/open space, strong tackling skills, breakdown sink hips and strike, wrap up; explosive; collision with wrap, chop tackler, big hitter; drag down arm tackler, run through, explosion with face, hits with eyes.

Strong UOH (use of hands): Plays with arms, grab and steer, stab and punch, double arm bar, single arm bar, press and release, stack at POA (point of attack), hand combat, slap, flipper.

Football Instincts: High football IQ, football instincts, awareness, read reaction quickness on the move, blocking recognition of pulling and trapping offensive linemen, locate and track ball in box, nose for making plays inside box, in season/out season study habits, film work and notes.

Strength: Functional strength and explosion, maintain leverage

Against the run: Defeat blocks neutralize and explode into blocker; split and defeat double team; shed blockers on the move; stack and control POA; press off, base strength with strong anchor, dodge, slip and avoid.

Pursuit/Range: Intensity; relentless; flatten down LOS, sacrifices body diving second effort; chase with short area burst and speed to finish.

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position and the ability to play hurt.

Physicality: Soft, Collision player, thumper, violent, intimidator to evoke fear in offensive opponents.

Confidence: Unflappable confidence, short memory, swagger.

Special Teams: Heart and soul of coverage units, hair on fire, lazy, non-interested, ability to block punts and PATD/FG, production.

Defensive Lineman

The game of football starts at the line of scrimmage. The team that controls this line wins more games than it loses; this is a proven fact of the game. In any defensive front, the big men on the line set the tone. Their ability to control and dominate the line of scrimmage is the key to any defensive formation or scheme. When grading defensive linemen, I divide them into five categories: 4-3 DE (defensive end), 3-4 DE (defensive end), DT(defensive tackle), NT (nose tackle) and DPR (designated pass rusher).

DEs in the 4-3 defense defend the edges of the defensive line. Their main responsibility consists of stacking the POA (point of attack) vs. the run and applying relentless pressure by attacking the offensive tackles up field shoulder, then flipping and clearing hips with burst to the quarterback drop zone. In the past, the right DE was the best athlete to combat the offense’s LT (left tackle) and put pressure on the pocket, attacking the quarterback’s blind side. The left DE was the power player. Today, defenses are using athletic DEs to anchor both ends of the front, applying an equal amount of pressure to squeeze the pocket. Both DEs use two different stances, the traditional three-point stance and the new four-point stance, for a more explosive get-off. Defensive ends in the 3-4 are flanked by outside linebackers and align inside the shoulder of the offensive tackle. Their responsibilities are the same as the 4-3 DE.

DPR’s (designated pass rushers) are undersized DEs with natural and relentless pass rush skills to get to the passer, but not used as linebackers which need awareness of both ball and receivers in space when dropping into zone coverage. DTs (defensive tackles) align as the interior linemen. Their responsibility is gap protection, to stack POA (point of attack) and stop the run. It is a major plus if these interior linemen have pass rush skills like St. Louis Rams Pro Bowler Aaron Donald to apply steady pressure and squeeze the pocket from the middle of the defense.  NT (nose tackle) plays in the 3-4 defense and is aligned head up over the OC (center), or tilted in the center-guard gap. His responsibility, two-gap and take up space so that the two middle linebackers can run and hunt.

Critical Factors

Character: Leader in the locker room; community involvement; off-field issues (arrest, drugs, assaulting women, guns, multiple campus, etc.).

Football Intelligence: Student of the game; film study; playbook memorization; ability to process and regurgitate information with recall, loves the full process of football (practices, meetings, weight room, off season workouts etc).

Leadership: Natural-born leader; vocal; quiet; leads by example.

Competitiveness: A win-at-all-costs attitude, high level of intensity, plays with passion on every play. He is at his best under adverse and pressure situations, exhibiting pride and a true passion for the game, he is confident in himself and his teammates.

Toughness: A nasty inline defender to consistently deliver under pressure and refuses to be defeated, motor runs fast and steady, has ability to play both injured and hurt when the team needs him.

Production: Produce under pressure in critical situations.

Arm Length: Ideal length for edge players ranges from 33 1/2 to 36 inches.

Position Specifics (DT)

Height

Minimum – 6010

General Range – 6010 – 6040

Weight

Minimum – 290

General Range – 290 – 320

Speed

Minimum – 5.00

General Range – 4.85 – 5.00

Short Area Quickness

At this position we are looking for a two gap player that is strong against the run.  Athletic  with Size, Strength/Explosiveness with the ability to stack at the POA.  Secondly he needs consistent pressure on the pocket with one gap play.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Initial quickness out of stance
  2. Stack and hold POA
  3. Inside pass rusher
  4. Demand double team
  5. Intelligent enough to understand concept

Position Specifics (DE)

Height

Minimum – 6030

General Range – 6030 – 6060

Height is a key factor

Weight

Minimum – 280

Speed

Minimum – 4.75

General Range – 4.75 – 4.85

I like prospects with the athletic ability that can play the POA, and possess the ability to turn speed into power while working up field.  The premier DE’s are those with both qualities.  There is a place in the NFL for the role player at this position, but he must be dominant at the best thing he does (rush the passer, run stopper).  The prospect that is best at only one thing should still have some ability to do the other.

Defensive End

  1. Athletic
  2. Stack and hold POA
  3. Inside pass rusher as DT in Dime package
  4. Quickness and movement to slant and run games
  5. Intelligence is a bonus

Position Specifics (DPR)

Height

Minimum – 6030

Weight

Minimum – 255

Speed

Minimum – 4.75

So many colleges today have gone to a 46-type defense; that the traditional defensive end almost no longer exists.  In his place, there is now the somewhat shorter, much lighter player whose sole function and ability is to rush the passer.  They may do this from a 2/3 point stance, but almost never get into coverage.  Grading this player draftable and then finding out he can’t get into coverage is a waste of time.  Very often this prospect lacks the athletic ability or intelligence to handle the schemes and FBI for the position.

There is a place for this player in the NFL, but he should be dominating at his level of competition.  This prospect should have good speed, quickness, explosiveness, acceleration, production and natural pass rush skills.

Interior Defensive Line: Attitude and temperament; get-off, explosion and penetration; aggressiveness; willingness; runs feet and constricts run lanes; effort; physical toughness; balance; finish; anchor, productive in a phone booth.

Explosion: Uncoil; pad level; hip snap, ankle flex.

Durability: Stamina; endurance; injury history for position; ability to play hurt.

Strong UOH (use of hands): Plays with arms; hump move; club, grab and steer; stab and punch; pull and jerk; double arm-bar separation; single arm-bar; head slap; tilt and toss, press and release; practice martial arts hand combat to improve advantage.

Football Intelligence: High football IQ; football instincts; awareness; read reaction quickness on the move; blocking recognition of pulling and trapping offensive linemen; locate and track ball in box; nose for making plays inside box.

Base Strength: Functional lower body strength and explosion; maintain leverage; knee bend and lower body explosion with hip snap, further development, upside.

Against the run: Defeat blocks; neutralize and explode into blocker; split and defeat double team; shed blockers on the move; stack and control POA; press off, base strength with strong anchor, defy angles.

Stunts and Games: Slants; E/T; T/E stunts, delayed blitz.

Lateral movement: First-step quickness; slide with ability to get skinny in hole; clear feet and work over and through trash; COD and redirect with burst and acceleration.

Leverage/Explosion: Plays behind pads; good knee bend; ability to dominate with strength and explosion, plays with leverage and power.

Pursuit/Range: Intensity; relentless; flatten down LOS, sacrifices body with diving effort; chase with short-area burst and speed.

Tackling: Collision with wrap; explosive; arm; drag down; run through tackler who hits with eyes; inline/open field; COD and breakdown, understands angles.

Defensive edge players: Power rusher; anticipation; push on pocket; inside stunt; explosive movements; get-off with burst on snap; quick feet, base and balance; burst with ability to turn speed into power; close off blocks; UOH quickness and strength; technique/counter; flip hip and burst to quarterback drop zone, quickness and acceleration off block; leaping ability to jump in quarterback passing lanes; zone drops with awareness in space of ball and receivers; look for check down and dump passes.

Defensive Lineman

 

Position Specifics (Kickers/Punters)

Type of Kicker:  Soccer style; conventional; Rt. /Lt. Footed; shoe/shoeless; Toe Puncher

Leg strength: Explosive; blur; distance; range.

Get off: Snap to kick (place kicker); hold to kick (punter).

Steps and yards covered:  Drop zone; over stride; 2/3 step (punter).

Hang time:  Amount of time ball travels in air from toe to touching the field; timed event of K.O.; Punts and F.G.’s.

Accuracy:  Leg control; placement.

Handle:  Hands; poor snap adjust; handling time; spin laces; ball rotation.

Clutch:  Ability to consistently produce or perform under pressure situations and adverse conditions.

Drop: High or low; consistent/inconsistent; grip.

Stance:  Wide/Tight.

Flexibility:  Leg drive and overall movement.

Position Specifics (Return Specialists)

Judgment: When to field a ball; field awareness at all times.

Hands:  Hard; soft; sure; soft; body catcher.

Elusiveness:  Ability to make first tackler miss; darter; shake/bake; burst into seams; make last tackler miss for BIG play.

Production:  Ability to take any return to the house; threat; game breaker; play maker.

Courage:  Poise; coverage pressure; positive yardage.

Flight of ball:  Read pattern; Nose up.

Vision:  Open and tight space.

Position Specifics (Snappers)

Type:  Short/Long; blind; accuracy.

Experience:  Number of years as a starter; short/long snapping experience;

non-position snapper vs. a position snapper; plays another position.

Coverage Skills:  Speed; aggressive; tackling production

Speed:  Velocity

Accuracy:  Hits hands, above target, below target, behind target

Position Specifics (Coverage Specialists)

Core player: Back-up player that is dedicated solely to the Special teams unit and performs on 4 or more units.

Coverage ability:  Relentless chase and pursuit; likes to mix it up.

Re-direct:  COD and vision to get back in position.

Competitiveness:  Hustle; second effort.

Speed/Acceleration:  Good speed to close coverage; acceleration off blocks.

Strength/Explosion:  Explosive and borderline nasty attitude.

Toughness:  Fights off double teams

Alignment: Starter/non-starter; were do they align on the field (R-1, PP etc).

Blocking:  Works to finish; sustain; ear hole; lookout.

Tackling:  Big hitter; solid wrap-up; arm; drag down; shoelace.

Production: It tight and open space