Head coach Brandon Staley covered several topics during last week’s hour-long press conference, including characteristics he looks for in players at several different position groups.
Below are some of his thoughts pertaining to the cornerback, tight end and offensive line positions.
“I think it’s always important going into the draft that you have a clear vision for the player. At corner, they come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. If it was a one-size-fits-all, then everybody would be doing it. But that’s not the case.
“For us, it’s more about the critical factors for the position. For us, it’s being able to play man-to-man – that’s where it starts. You have to be able to cover man-to-man. We kind of evaluate that in two phases; how they plan man-to-man from bump and how they play man-to-man from off, which is cushion for us. We evaluate that first and foremost.
“The second thing is; What is their movement like at level two? When they are off, what is their movement like? We really value that. You can’t just press in this league. You have to play off and be able to cover receivers from that position, too. How do they judge the ball in the deep part of the field? What is their production like when the ball is at level three? How do they play the ball? What are their ball skills like? What is their ball judgment like? How do they play in and out of phase? That’s really important.
“Then, what is their open-field tackling like? How are they going to be in run support? You can’t play defense if your corners can’t tackle. Those are kind of the critical factors for us.
“Certainly, then size, speed, arm length, all of that stuff comes into play. But, like I said, there are a lot of different shapes and sizes of corners.
“What we try to do is hone in on those critical factors for the position. Then, what that generates is a lot larger pool of defensive backs that you can work with.”
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“There are different sizes now, and I think that in that process, you have to sort of space that group into on the line ‘Y’ tight ends or ‘F’ tight ends that are more like guys that you move off of the line, guys that can play detached from the formation.
“That is a position that has truly become a hybrid position of sorts. It’s an advantage if you have a really good room.
“I think you categorize the tight ends that are ‘Y’ only, and then you have guys that are ‘F’ only and guys that you feel like can do either, that can be ‘Y’ and ‘F’ – that’s kind of how we would classify that position.
“I think what you’re looking for at tight end is their ability to add value in the passing game. I think that’s where it starts with a tight end, their value in the passing game. What type of receiver is he? Is he a vertical threat? Is he a level one or level two threat? Is he a separator? How does he catch the ball in traffic? Can he split out from the formation? How does he play as a wideout? A lot of those things go into the evaluation.
“Then, at the point of attack, how is he at the line of scrimmage? How is he off of the line of scrimmage? How is his balance and body control working across the formation or in combination with people as a blocker?
“From there, you talk about his pass protection ability. That’s kind of the final part of the evaluation. It’s a position that if you have a deep room and a versatile room, it creates a big advantage for you schematically.”
“You always value versatility, if it’s real versatility and if it can truly help you. It’s one thing to be versatile, like having the skillset to do it, but also, do you have the mind to be versatile?
“You could have a versatile skill set, but maybe your mind won’t allow you to play all over the formation, whether it’s a lineman or defensive back or receiver.
“At tackle, there are certain characteristics of that position that are important. We all know who is playing on the edge on the other side of the ball.
“For us, you have to be able to pass protect. At that position, you have to play in more space. You’re in more space, these guys are long and they’re athletic. Where that tackle position starts for us is being able to pass protect.”
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