I struggled, albeit briefly, on whether to continue building our roster with a tight end next and certainly with the success being experienced by many NFL clubs this season using tight ends as a major component of their scheme, having a solid running back trumps the tight end position for us.

An instinctive, hard-nosed runner allows you to control the time of position and may be the single most important component in the identity and personality of your ball club.  A physical run game will wear down an opponent and as the secondary must be involved in support, allows you to utilize play-action to gain explosive plays.

A dynamic quick twitch runner that can score from anywhere on the field will not allow the pass rush to “pin their ears back” and disrupt the drop-back game providing a cleaner pocket to deliver the ball downfield, be effective in the draw scheme, and if the defense is overly aggressive the screen game becomes paramount.

There is still a place for two-back sets and a solid fullback as a lead blocker and a powerful quick hit dive back and trap carrier will always carry merit.

Having a solid run game has proven over the course of time to be the lynchpin of championship football teams.  Throwing the ball all over the park is fun and exciting but ultimately if you can not effectively control the ball with a run game you are applying undo stress on your entire club.  Now go find this vital cog by using these evaluative tools for the position of;

                                                                      RUNNING BACKS

INITIAL QUICKNESS                     Movement upon snap of the ball, explosive start, straight ahead, lateral, type of stance, hitch or false step, quickness to the hole, get-off from 2 or 3 point stance

INSTINCTS/VISION                        Natural feel as a carrier, peripheral sight, focus on the point of attack (POA), quick reactions, ability to create or alibi positive yardage on poorly blocked plays

INSIDE RUNNER                             Vision, presses POA, pick, slide and accelerate through the hole, ability to find and hit a crease, body lean, pad level, strength, power, break tackles, short yardage and goal line, follow and utilize blockers, cut in the hole, pound type, gain yards after initial hit, leg drive, effort, ability to finish runs with authority, make aggressive tough 2 and 3 yard runs, step over trash, traffic burst in the hole

POWER/BREAK TACKLES           Play strength to break tackles, gets behind pads, can be own blocker and move the pile, leverage, short yardage and goal line, leg drive, refuses to be stopped, slasher, hard nosed, not afraid to initiate contact

SHORT YARDAGE RUNNER        Efficiency in converting short yardage situations, run skills, power, desire, pad level, leg churn

OUTSIDE RUNNER                          Speed and quickness to turn the corner and take the ball wide, game breaker, can score from anywhere on the field, elusiveness to make tacklers miss, instincts, plant and cut, attack downhill

ELUSIVENESS                                    Makes defenders miss, type: darter or weaver, deceptive, dancer, quickness, balance, agility, plant and cut without loss of speed, can dip in and out, gear change, straight line limitations, create, avoid, slip and slide

BALANCE                                             Ability to retain body control in the execution of various fundamentals of carrying the ball and in blocking, regain body control after temporarily lost, lower body strength to stay on feet

ACCELERATION                              Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, ability once you’re moving to get to a hight rate of speed

BALL SECURITY                             Chronic fumbler, ball protection, carelessness, physical make up, number of fumbles, pad level entering contact

PASS ROUTES                                   Ability to get out of the backfield and into routes quickly, type of routes, experience as a receiver, awareness, vs man/zone understanding, comfortable in open space, hand placement to the throw, allows blockers to to get in front in screen game

HANDS                                                  Type: soft or stiff, body catcher, extends to throw, adjust to the ball, able to make difficult catch, frames throw, relaxed, natural

RUN BLOCKING                               Willingness, attitude, effort, aggressive, initial contact, base, balance, knee bend, power and explosion, stays on feet, follow through, finish, react to games and stunts, chop blocker or face up, experience, courage

PASS BLOCKING                              Willingness, attitude, effort, initial contact, base, feet, balance, stays square, face up, strike and recoil, shadow defender, does not over-extend or lunge, dogs and blitz recognition and pick up

DURABILITY                                     Physically able to perform consistently over a long period, doesn’t miss time – game or practice, understands the difference between pain and injury, number of carries (game/season), stamina, maintains concentration when in pain or tired late in the game

                                                                   CRITICAL FACTORS

TAILBACK/SINGLE BACK

RUN SKILLS                                      Over-all talent, inside and outside, production as a carrier, creates, avoids

INSTINCTS/VISION                       Natural feel as a carrier, quick reactions, eyes, ability to create, makes something out of nothing

SPEED                                                   40 time, burst, acceleration, play speed

QUICKNESS                                       Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso and feet in unison and rapid succession

HANDS                                                  Comfort level in all routes, production as a receiver, natural or body catcher

FULLBACK

INSIDE RUNNER                           Vision, feet, agility, strength, power, pad level, short yardage and goal line, finish runs, courage and toughness

QUICKNESS                                       Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso, and feet in unison and rapid succession

BLOCKING                                         Run/pass, willingness, attitude, toughness, production

HANDS                                                 Comfort level in all routes, production as a receiver, natural or body catcher

MENTAL                                              Intelligence, schematic understanding, assimilates strategy, adaptability, toughness

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We’ll move over to the offensive side of the ball now as our defense is built and our special teams have a solid core.  Our quarterback is protected but we can’t leave him “flailing in the wind” as NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell pontificates.  We have to get our trigger man an athlete  to compliment him that will be consistent in his pattern discipline, make the routine catch routinely, and be a play-maker.

We prefer the taller athlete.  We haven’t spoken much in terms of size requirements for each position previously discussed but this particular position we believe warrants the discussion.  Basketball athletic attributes are positives for the receiver position.  We want players that can go up and make the play at its highest point framing the throw and extending.  Individuals that are accustomed to coming out of breaks at full speed yet under-control and have a basic understanding of how to position their body to ward off a defender.  Exceptional top end speed is always a premium but we’ll sacrifice a step for height, long arms, and big hands.

Receivers are also vital to your special teams structure.  You may keep an athlete that is slightly smaller than you would prefer in your offensive corps but has return skills.  Receivers often are an asset as “gunners” on punt cover and of course you want them all out there for the onside kick return team, to mention a few.

These are the players that can electrify your offense.  These are the men that move the chains in chunks.  To evaluate these men use these tools for the position of;

                                                                        RECEIVER

HANDS                                   Type: soft, stiff, absorbing, extend and pluck, body catcher, adjust to the ball in flight, makes the difficult catch (low balls, over the shoulder, ball behind or away, general off target throw), secures the ball after the catch, concentration, size of hands

REACT/ADJUST                  See and reposition to the ball in flight, body control, frames the throw, make the difficult catch, vision, focus, tracks the ball, leaping ability, timing

INITIAL QUICKNESS       Movement off the ball, stance, starts, burst into routes, consistent off the ball, immediate pressure, close cushion

RELEASE                               Escape hold-up in press coverage, quick feet, strength to fight jam, moves and techniques, gets into route and back on course quickly, sinks hips and bursts, hip and leg drive, “foot fire” guy

STRENGTH                          Core and play strength, escape jam, gets off the line of scrimmage (LOS), stays on pattern, sturdy runner, breaks tackles, physical, durable

SEPARATION                      Acceleration and burst to leave a defender, can get over the top, creates space on out cuts, does he pull away, change of direction (COD) without wasted movement, horizontal, vertical

PLAY SPEED/TEMPO      The velocity and intensity in which the game is played, with or without the ball, efficiency in movement qualities, can he carry his pads

MOVEMENT/COD              Type of cuts; sharp, rounded, body control, stride, gathers, comes out of turn smoothly with a burst to separate, ease of movement, balance, faking and cutting ability, efficiency in movement, drop weight/sink hips, COD qualities, hard angle breaks, decisive out of breaks, lateral separation

FIELD AWARENESS          Ability to find open windows in zone coverage, reads coverage, distinguishes man vs zone, awareness of positioning on the field and game situations, adjustments at the snap, clock management, works the boundary, pattern distribution

RECEIVE SHORT                Ability to find open areas and settle, quickness to defeat man to man (run away from man/sit down in zone), catch the ball in a crowd, run through catch over the middle, cutting ability, awareness, can he or can’t he get open, pattern agility, provides a target, separation

RECEIVE LONG                  Speed to get deep, close cushion, force separation with defender, change of pace within the pattern stem, adjust to the ball in flight, over the shoulder, react to under-thrown ball, leaping ability on jump ball, acrobatic type catch, vision, concentration, vertical threat

ACCELERATION                 Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, ability once you’re moving to get at a higher rate of speed

IN TRAFFIC                          Courage, concentration, hold ball on contact, over the middle, big target, will battle for the ball, won’t turn down the throw, production inside the hashes, reaction in combative environment, catch in a crowd on the move

RUN ABILITY                       Athletic after catch, quickness, acceleration, elusiveness, open field instincts, change of pace, determined runner, fights for extra yards, stamina, ball security

BLOCKER                               Willingness, effort, aggressiveness, strength, adjust on the move, sustain, type of blocks (stalk, cut, crack), results

                                                                         CRITICAL FACTORS

HANDS                                    Dependable, consistent, natural vs body catcher, drops

MOVEMENT/COD               Body control, drop weight/sink hips, efficient runner, ease of movement, route agility

STRENGTH                             Functional, escapes jam, gets off the LOS, stays on routes, sturdy runner, breaks tackles, physical, durable

PLAY SPEED/TEMPO        Game speed vs 40 time, deep acceleration, burst out of breaks

RUN AFTER CATCH            Athletic with the ball in his hands, speed, quickness, instincts, production, yards after catch (YAC’s)

We continue to build the roster strengthening our defense and enhancing our special teams.  To this end, we now focus on linebackers as they are both lateral mobility and downhill players that will be your biggest play-makers.  At the high school, college, and in the Canadian Football League (because of the limited roster size), starting linebackers need to be on two special teams units, one cover and one return squad to get the most out of your roster.  In the National Football League it is not as necessary to play your starters on special teams as much but if you are in a rebuilding situation empowering a special teams unit with proven play-makers is warranted.

We have always contended that if a player becomes fatigued during the course of the game, he can regroup by taking a few plays off on defense and never on special teams.  These players are your gladiators.  They are required to be adept at both stopping the run and in coverage.  They are to hold the point and make open field tackles.  Their intelligence level and poise should be superior to any other corps on the defense as they will adjust calls and disguise alignment responsibilities.  These men are tough and hard-nosed.  They are:

                                                                            LINEBACKERS

KEY & DIAGNOSE                              Recognition and reaction to run/pass, nose for the ball, react immediately to key vs play action and misdirection, football aptitude, calls signals, makes adjustment calls

INSTINCTS                                            Natural ability to find the ball and make plays, anticipation

WARD OFF/SHED                              Engage blockers, use of hands, forearms (flipper), pad under pad relationship, knee bender/sinks hips, separation, catcher vs attacker, body position, balance, stays on feet, low protect, slips blocks, run around, tie up with blocker, on the move in pursuit, use of hands through traffic, agility through trash, arm length, special awareness

VS INSIDE RUN                                  Strength at the point of attack, stack, defeat lead blocker, use of arms and hands to take on, control and shed block, hold ground on plays directly at him, scrape and fill hole, reaction to cut back, size, bulk, toughness, splatter, willingness to initiate contact

LEVERAGE/STRENGTH                  Knee bend/sink hips, play strength, flexibility, take on blockers at the point of attach (POA)

VS OUTSIDE RUN                              Range, speed, lateral quickness, pursuit to the boundary, make wide plays, step over trash, open field tackler, keeps leverage on ball without over running the play, pursuit angles, burst to finish plays, run down focus

LATERAL PURSUIT                          Quickness to shuffle, makes plays parallel to LOS, knee bend/sink hips

RANGE                                                   Distance covered after the ball is in the air, pursuit, effort, attitude, speed, anticipation, urgency

TACKLING                                           Type: hard hitter or grab and drag down, explosiveness, break-down, open field, wrap up arms, doesn’t give ground, likes and desires contact, arrives at the POA with authority, rise through the numbers, angle or head up, arm length, up the field tackler, attacks

ZONE COVERAGE                              Recognition and react, drop, turn and run ability, depth, quick feet, vision, speed, anticipation, adjust to the ball, body position, closing quickness, burst after final move, discipline, instincts

MAN TO MAN COVERAGE             Quickness, speed, hip flexibility with smooth turn, acceleration, catch-up speed, position to recover, timing, play the ball, handle TE’s and RB’s, use of hands

BALL REACTIONS                             What the defender does after the ball gets close to the receiver, knock-downs, interceptions, interference

HANDS                                                      Type: soft, stiff, body catcher, extend to the throw and frame, adjust, intercepts or knocks down catchable balls

PASS RUSH/DOGS                             Quick take off, use of hands, speed, strength, adjust on the move, change of direction (COD), burst to QB, timing, anticipation, type of moves (speed, vertical push, defeats blocker with leverage, acceleration off block, innate ability plus coaching, power rush, explosive first step, active off the edge, counter, battered balls

ACCELERATION                                  Burst to close, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, ability once you’re moving to get to a higher rate of speed

                                                                                  CRITICAL FACTORS

OUTSIDE BACKERS

SPEED                                                       40 time, burst, acceleration, catch-up speed to close

EXPLOSION                                               Force generated when delivering a blow, strength to strike, minimizing time-lapse between initial movement and contact, quick movement out of transition to break on ball, suddenness

QUICKNESS                                            Ability to move feet and body in rapid succession, ability to change direction suddenly, knee bender/hip sinker

TOUGHNESS                                           Degree of mental and physical hardness, aggressive, competitive, willingness to initiate contact, perform at a high level of competency regardless of situations or opponents intensity, plays through pain

MAN TO MAN COVERAGE                 Ability to individually engage on or off the line of scrimmage, hips, feet, COD

INSIDE BACKERS

KEY AND DIAGNOSE                          Football intelligence, ability to acquire and retain knowledge, ability to adjust and think on the move, instincts, reactions

SPEED                                                       40 time, burst, acceleration, catch up speed

EXPLOSION                                             Force generated when delivering a blow, strength to strike, minimizing time-lapse between initial movement and contact, quick movement out of transition to break on the ball, suddenness

TOUGHNESS                                          Degree of mental and physical hardness, aggressive, competitive, willingness to initiate contact, perform at a high level of competency regardless of situations or opponents intensity, plays through pain

QUICKNESS                                            Ability to move feet and torso rapidly, COD, knee bend/hip sink

In this series of structuring your roster we have first secured a quarterback and then addressed a pressure player and cover men that will also be an asset on special teams.  Some may argue that our next position should be receiver but we contend that protecting the quarterback and effectively being able to run the football take precedence.

When I was a young coach and a “wing-T guy” I was instructed to put our best offensive lineman at center.  Later in my career running the football continued to be a priority but throwing the football achieved us success and recognition.  Now the thought process is to put your best offensive linemen at the backside of your quarterback’s dominant hand at tackle and your second best at the dominant side guard position.  The philosophy is to protect from unseen pressure and to secure the throwing alley to which the ball is being launched.

When evaluating individual’s to play in the most choreographed and teammate reliant aspect of perhaps all sport, we look to mesh these qualities into a cohesive unit looking at these traits for;

                                                                                 OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

INITIAL QUICKNESS            Movement off the ball to gain advantage, first step, foot and hand speed

EXPLOSION                               Knee bender/sinks hips, not a waist bender, leg drive, roll hips, core strength, shock to punch, control and drive, surge, pancakes

RUN BLOCK INLINE              Type; (drive, hook, scoop, fan, double, slip, peel, trap, angle, cut-off), initial contact, leverage, feet, balance, sustain, visible shock when delivering a blow, explosion, finish block, follow through, combination blocks (double, fold, cross, etc.), ability to adjust and block different looks while maintaining balance, stays on feet, position (finesse) vs power, timing, vision

SUSTAIN/BALANCE               Base, feet, not overextended, ability to recover and regain positioning, ability to retain body control in the execution of various position fundamentals

BASE/LEVERAGE                    Solid lower body, flexibility and power, knee bender, difficult to knock off feet

CUT-OFF                                       Lateral agility and quickness to prevent and secure defenders pursuit away from the play, vs. slant move

PULL/TRAP                                 Initial step, adjust on the run, zero in on the target and strike, depth and approach, body control, kick-out or log, contact, follow through, finish, quickness, explosion

ADJUST ON THE MOVE        Change of direction, agility and body control, breakdown, zero in on moving target and strike, vision

BLOCK DOWNFIELD              Effort, hustle, make 2nd block, look for someone to hit 2nd and 3rd level, angle, adjust, sustain, work on air, throw too early and overextend, results

PASS BLOCK                               Stance, quick set, drop and angle, feet, base, balance, athletic ability, lateral slide, recovery quickness, mirror and shadow, shift weight, can sit back, tuck hips and explode, hand placement and usage, punch, pop and recoil, quick hands, lock out arms, recognize and adjust to various games, twists and stunts, ability to handle speed, quick and power rush, patient, not over-anxious or overly aggressive, no lunge or overextend, top-heavy, anchor, range, drop and anchor vs bull rush, shoulders square, head up, confidence

FOOT QUICKNESS                   Ability to move feet in rapid succession, lateral movement

RECOVER ABILITY                  Regarding reacting to an opponents movement, ability to regain body control and balance, get out of trouble, redirect and shift weight quickly to defeat opponent, pivot/turn and run

USE OF HANDS                         Quickness, stab, punch, placement, extension, 6 inch jab, control opponent

ANCHOR VS. POWER            Size, play strength, balance, base, punch, shock, drop weight

FINISH                                          Effort to complete the play, plays through the echo of the whistle, dominate opponent, competitive spirit, nasty streak

                                                                                                 CRITICAL FACTORS

SIZE                                                 Height and weight according to the chart and level of play

QUICKNESS                                Initial movement off the LOS and into blocks, set in pass pro, ability to move hands, arms, torso and feet in rapid succession

STRENGTH                                   Core strength, degree of strength exhibited in performance of duties (functional or play strength), weight room vs. on the field

BODY CONTROL                       Ability to quickly adjust body and shift weight to regain balance and get position on an opponent after being out of position initially

MENTAL                                      Football intelligence, learn and retain with limited reps, understand concepts, make mental adjustments on the move, awareness and alertness

As we are building our roster we have discussed the quarterback and the speed edge or push the pocket down lineman.  Now we turn our focus to a skilled player that can also contribute on a variety of special teams.  These young men should prove to be the best athletes in the program.  Here are the skill sets we define for;

                                                                                                   DEFENSIVE BACKS

KEY AND DIAGNOSE              Recognition and reaction to run/pass, instincts, anticipation, think on the move, make quick adjustments, reaction to play off blocks and tackle, production, react to play action pass

RUN SUPPORT                            Key and diagnose, willingness to force, contain, tough, aggressive, hitter, strength, play off blocks and close to the carrier, production, attack

WARD OFF/SHED                      Physical take on, use of hands, stays on feet, play off blocker in open field and make the tackle

TACKLING                                      Type: hard or grab and drag down, wrap up arms, aggressive, tough and physical, desire for contact, doesn’t shy away, can breakdown to tackle in the open field, number of tackles, brings arms 6 inch punch

JAM RECEIVER                           Nose to nose, stance, balance, strength, physical striker, doesn’t lunge or over extend, recovery skills, bump technique

MAN TO MAN COVERAGE     Back pedal, base, quick feet, ability to stay in pedal as long as possible (to route break points, transition out of pedal to all route angles, stop and go quickness, plant and drive, burst to close on the ball, no false steps, (slips), loose hipped for smooth turn with acceleration and catch up speed, position to receiver, timing, leaping ability, battle for the ball, strip, banjo (switch inside/outside), trail, angles, tough-minded, accepts the challenge

MOVEMENT/TURN                     Body control, loose hips, transition, smooth and fluid, little to no wasted motion

FOOT QUICKNESS                       Ability to move feet in rapid succession, lateral movement, back pedal, change of direction (COD)

ACCELERATION                            Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top-level, ability once your moving to get to a higher rate of speed

ZONE COVERAGE                         Awareness, anticipation, reactions, vision, range, ball reactions and close, depth

BALL REACTIONS                         What defender does after he gets close to the receiver, in flight, body position, knockdown, strip, interception, interference, ability to adjust, ball skills, play the ball down the field

CLOSING QUICKNESS                Diminishing the distance to the receiver after he makes his final move, direct line to point of ball, no false steps, plant and drive, recovery burst and speed, deep catch up on long ball, speed turn and close

RANGE                                                 Distance covered after the ball is in the air, speed, anticipation, pursuit, effort hustle, always around the ball, urgency, angles, catch up speed

HANDS                                                  Type: soft or stiff, hands vs. body catcher, extends for the ball, adjusts for difficult interception, does he knockdown catchable balls, frames the throw

CONFIDENCE                                    Attitude, smart, daring, accepts a challenge, never be defeated demeanor, ability to bounce back after being beaten, positive cockiness/swagger

                                                                                            CRITICAL FACTORS

Corners

SPEED                                                 40 time, burst, acceleration, catch up speed, close

EXPLOSION                                        Force generated when delivering a blow, pop and strength, minimizing time-lapse between initial movement and contact, quick movement out of transition to break on the ball, suddenness in body

QUICKNESS                                         Ability to move feet and body with a short burst and suddenness to perform techniques required of the corner position, ability to change direction sharply, knee bender/hip sinker

TOUGHNESS                                       Degree of mental and physical will to succeed – aggressive, competitive spirit, willingness to initiate contact, perform at a high level of competency regardless of situations or opponents intensity

MAN TO MAN COVERAGE            Ability to mirror the route runner on or off the line of scrimmage, hips, feet, COD

Safeties

KEY AND DIAGNOSE                       Football intelligence, ability to acquire and retain knowledge, ability to adjust and think on the move, instincts, reactions

SPEED                                                      40 time, burst, acceleration, catch-up speed, range

EXPLOSION                                           Force generated when delivering a blow, pop and strength, minimizing time lapse between initial movement and contact, quick movement out of transition to break on the ball, suddenness to strike

TOUGHNESS                                          Degree of mental and physical will to succeed, aggressive, competitive spirit, willingness to initiate contact, perform at a high level of competency regardless of situations or opponents intensity

QUICKNESS                                            Ability to move feet and torso rapidly, COD, knee bend/hip sinker, turn hips and run

The last posting addressed the single most important position in your program which is quarterback but when building your roster, focusing on the defense is paramount.  Developing a strong defense will enhance your special teams and thusly you are strengthening two thirds of your roster while your offense usually takes more time to mature.

The emphasis is placed upon pressuring the opponent and stopping the run game.  To this end we begin by finding a dominant front player looking first to find speed off the edge or an interior push the pocket player.  With this in mind, we evaluate with this criteria for;

                                                                      DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

INITIAL QUICKNESS              Stance, movement off the ball, gain advantage, anticipation, up field get off, 2 gap technique, explode into blocker

REACTIONS/INSTINCTS        Diagnose play after controlling opponent, quickness to read and find the ball, feel pressure and react and move, react to angles, trap and combination blocks, right place-right time, cautious? hesitant? guesses too much?

STRENGTH @ POINT             Core strength and explosion, leverage, use of hands, 2 gap, 1 on 1, drive block, vs double team, hand fights too much, wrestles with blocker, push and shove type, content to stay on the line of scrimmage

DISENGAGE/SHED                  Ability to dispense of blocker and find the ball, play strength and technique vs drive and double team, use of hands to separate, strength to pull and jerk, lateral shuffle and move through trash, low block protect and move, get to the ball and make the play, stays on feet and is not on the ground, quick feet to catch up with blocker, slippery quality, power/activity of legs, feet, hip drive playing from his lower body

RUN DEFENSE                         2 gap ability, strength at the point of attack, use of hands and arms to control blocker and shed parallel to the LOS, downline pursuit, close inside with authority, mobility and speed to string out and pursue to the sideline, awareness of blocking schemes and combinations (double, trap, fold, influence, zone, etc), wrap up tackler, production

TACKLING                                Type: hard hitter, explosive, grabber, drag down, wrap up with arms, stop ball carrier at the LOS without losing ground, angle or head on, breakdown and adjust in the open field, suddenness to strike

PURSUIT                                    Movement to the ball from snap to completion of the play, effort, angle, quickness, short and long, stay square to LOS, step over trash and through traffic, open field, take away cut back, urgency, intensity, closing speed

BODY CONTROL/BALANCE    Stays on feet, flexibility, base, use of hands too low to protect, ability to recover and regain balance, agility, quickness

USE OF HANDS                         Strength, quickness to gain control and escape, technique, punch and explode, achieves extension, separate, lock out ability, upper body strength through the hands and forearms, arm length

PASS RUSH                                Stance (2, 3, or 4 point), first step take off, quickness, use of hands and feet, play strength, effort, tenaciousness, type of moves (slap or grab and swim, rip or uppercut, speed, power bull rush, spin), combination or 2nd moves, stunts, vertical push, outside speed, defeat blocker, leverage, acceleration off blocks with the ability to adjust and burst to close to the QB, stamina, discipline, stay in rush lane, innate ability plus coaching, work hands and feet in unison

FOOT QUICKNESS                      Ability to move feet in rapid succession, lateral mobility

ACCELERATION                          Burst, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, first step off the ball, closing speed, ability once moving to get to a higher rate of speed

1 ON 1                                            Quick recognition and react to type of block, ability to control, shed and tackle

DOUBLE TEAM                             Reaction, core strength and technique to hold ground

TRAP                                              Quick recognition, close down hole, spill technique (take on with outside shoulder to flatten, what technique is being taught?

                                                                            CRITICAL FACTORS

SIZE                                                  Height and weight according to charts in accordance with level of play

QUICKNESS                                     Ability to move hands, arms, torso, and feet in rapid succession, movement in any direction

STRENGTH                                       Overall strength, degree of power exhibited in performance of duties (functional play strength), upper body, lower body

BALANCE                                         Ability to retain body control in the execution of various fundamentals required of playing defensive line, regain body control after temporarily losing it, lower body strength and base to stay on feet

EXPLOSION                                      Force generated when delivering a blow, pop and power ,minimizing time lapse between initial movement and contact, suddenness of strike

I am asked quite often about individual skill sets for each position. I have had a unique experience in having been provided the opportunity to coach as well as work in player personnel in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins and serving as a recruiting coordinator at the collegiate level.  I have been a part of building championship teams at many levels and the bottom line of any program is player talent.  Schematics, organization, motivation, environment, all certainly play a vital role in the success of the program but talent evaluation is paramount.  Without good players, I don’t care what you know as a coach, you need skilled individuals to carry out your plan.

A guideline must be in place as to what are the requirements for each position.  Without a framework of skill sets for each position you are sending out your scouts or coaches in their designated recruiting areas to uncharted waters.  Each position is defined as to the fundamental needs to be successful and we’ll start with the most important of all….

                                                                     QUARTERBACK

ARM STRENGTH           Ability to throw deep and sideline ball, throw on the move left and right, the entire menu of routes, throwing across the field, throw into small windows, use of body, 3 step without a hitch, 5 step with a single hitch, 7 step with two hitches, comeback is the toughest throw

QUICK DELIVERY          Type of delivery, slow, fast, wind up, deliberate, etc., strong wrist with a quick snap, always ready to throw, ball position-  does he keep it in the carriage, no wasted motion, tight spiral with speed, reload throw

ACCURACY SHORT      Hit a moving target at full speed, keep receivers on routes with few adjustments to throw, throws a catchable ball, timing, touch, on the move, percentage, QB‘s that “flick” the ball are less accurate

ACCURACY LONG        Keeps receivers on routes with few adjustments, hit a moving target downfield, throw to the corner, keep ball away from defender, doesn’t hang ball or throw ball up for grabs, timing, judgement

TOUCH                           Throw over defense, timing, anticipation, feel for throw, catchable ball, take off, loose upper body to roll the ball

JUDGEMENT/READ      Read defense/coverage including pre-snap, sight adjustments, locate secondary receivers, see and react to additional pressure players, judgement, force ball into coverage, progressions, hot receivers, volume of passing game, anticipation, protection knowledge

ANTICIPATION               Natural feel in the passing game, sense to quickly read play as it develops

VS. PRESSURE              Stay in the pocket with heavy rush, poise, toughness, clutch player, temperament, can take a hit

QUICK SET-UP               Dropback speed to launch point, back pedal or crossover or combination drop, shotgun, balance, active feet, quick feet related to movement within the pocket, body control to be ready to pass at any time within the drop, toe placement of the front toe (heels off the ground), non-throwing shoulder pointed to target, hitching, rhythm, weight transfer, hit back foot and deliver downfield

FOOT QUICKNESS          Ability to move feet in rapid succession, set up, quick escape footwork technique

AVOID/ESCAPE               Escape and scramble ability to avoid rush, sack avoidance, scramble right and left, lateral slide or step up in pocket, sense for feeling pressure, buy a second chance, keeps eyes downfield

RUNNING ABILITY           Athletic with the ball, speed, quickness, aggressiveness, slider vs tough runner, likes to run, will take off if opportunity presents itself

BALL HANDLING              Control of center exchange, handoffs, play action and fake ability, does he fumble? protect from having the ball stripped in the pocket, size of hands, handle the shotgun snap

COURAGE                         Doesn’t panic, determination to stay in the pocket, toughness, can take a hit, play through pain/injury

LEADERSHIP                    Competitive as well as cool and tough under game and rush pressure, disciplined hurry up/2 minute effectiveness, patient when behind and confident to take charge under adverse conditions, command of team

                                                                         CRITICAL FACTORS

ARM                                    Strength, quick release, throw on the move, velocity, delivery

MENTAL                             instinct, knowledge of the game, ability to adjust in the heat of battle, audible’s, huddle command, does he take control? presumes authority and commands respect from the team

ACCURACY                        Over-all accuracy, short and long, complete passes with few adjustments, keep receivers on routes, completion percentage

COURAGE                           Competitiveness, toughness, hang in the pocket, take a hit, vs pressure, plays hurt

MOBILITY                             Movement skills; feet, avoid/escape rush, ability to make plays on the move, left and right, the ability to escape with suddenness and reset the body with balance to make quick accurate throws