Matt McGuire's NFL Draftology 234:
Positional Value Pyramid Tier 5 Part 1
No. 2 Receiver, 3-4 End, Weakside Linebacker
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Updated June 30, 2010
In our first four tiers we broke down the positions I feel like are the most valuable in the NFL. Now, we are getting to Tier 5. These positions are important, but they simply don't bring as much value to the table as others previously analyzed.
There are seven positions in Tier 5. I'll break down the first three in Part 1, then the remaining four in Part 2.
To kick off Tier 5, we are going to analyze the No. 2 Wide Receiver.
No. 2 Wide Receiver Positional Analysis: The No. 1 receiver finds ways to make clutch plays where his team can depend on him, but he also can make extremely explosive plays. Whether it is dominating a jump ball, maximizing the yards after the catch, or getting separation in critical moments, the No. 1 receiver is one of his team's most important players.
What separates the No. 1 receiver from the No. 2 receiver I feel like is my previous sentence. The No. 2 receiver is generally thought to be more of a possession receiver. He is very reliable, runs good routes and has consistent hands. If you have a No. 2 receiver who doesn't catch the football consistently, then your offense will simply struggle to move the chains in the passing game.
However, the No. 2 receiver isn't expected to make a jaw-dropping reception every game. He generally lacks the explosive speed to eat up an off-man cushion and separate. The No. 2 receiver might be a solid weapon in the end zone, but he won't keep cornerbacks up at night when they are thinking about how to defend the fade route on their own 12-yard line.
The No. 2 receiver is very important, but you can get by with having a good, not great player at this position and still have a highly productive offense.
Scarcity - 2: No. 2 receivers aren't impossible to find, but they aren't easy to secure either. This grade is somewhere between a "low 2" and a "mid 2."
Effectiveness - 2: No. 2 receivers can occasionally make a big play and the word that should define this player is "reliable." No. 2 receivers are often a major catalyst on third down for a quarterback because if the No. 1 receiver isn't open (or the play is called for the No. 2), then somebody needs to make a play, get open and catch the football.
Money - 2: To me, Hines Ward is the prototypical No. 2 receiver even though he has been Pittsburgh's No. 1 for much of his career. He has amazing hands, he's tough, he's clutch, and he gets open. He lacks explosive playmaking skills. Ward was given a contract in excess of $5 million per year at the age of 33 in 2009. Solid money for good No. 2 receivers, but they aren't grossly expensive.
Durability - 2: A very good No. 2 receiver can have a productive career into his mid-30s, but they generally can't last into their late 30s.
Our next position in Tier 5 is the 3-4 defensive end, otherwise known as "5-technique" to signal his position on the defensive line.
3-4 Defensive End Positional Analysis: This position varies by scheme in how it is utilized. In some 3-4 defenses, the 5-technique (or "5-tech") is expected to simply eat up blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays (the Ravens use this strategy). In other schemes, the defensive coordinator might want the 5-technique to play a prominent role as a pass rusher (Dallas Cowboys).
Size is extremely important for this position. The prototype should be 6-5 and around 295-315 pounds. Size is a big deal for this position because he has to be able to hold his ground against the massive offensive tackles in the NFL, and he often occupies double teams.
One critical element 3-4 defensive ends need to have is quick, active hands to be able to shed blockers.
The 5-tech plays a huge role for his team in run defense, as well as psychologically because if you are the tougher, more physical team in the trenches then it gives your team a major edge in the football game especially on defense.
Scarcity - 1: It really isn't difficult at all to find this position, though I would say this is a "high 1" on the grading scale. You can often find 5-techs who were simply out of position in a previous scheme, but they are big with good hands. In the draft, we are starting to see plenty of huge defensive linemen who can play this position.
Effectiveness - 2: In the 3-4 defense, the 5-tech holds his ground on the line of scrimmage and his prominent role is to stop the run. If you don't have ends that can stop the run in the 3-4, then you are going to lose a lot of games - unless you play in the AFC West.
Money - 2: This position gets paid a relatively average wage.
Durability - 2: This position has solid, but not great durability.
The last position in Tier 5, Part 1 we will analyze is the 4-3 weakside linebacker, otherwise known as the "WILL."
4-3 Weakside Linebacker Positional Analysis: I am going to focus on how this position is used primarily in the Tampa-2 scheme because there are so many variations of the 4-3 defense and the corresponding outside linebacker responsibilities.
In most schemes, the WILL is expected to be the playmaker of the linebacking corps. He is asked to cover the most ground, and therefore needs to be the most athletic of all three linebackers in the 4-3. He needs to be able to drop in coverage and cover tight ends - range is extremely important with the WILL.
The WILL needs to be able to have plenty of speed because he has to chase down ball-carriers and eliminate space.
The prototype for this position is Derrick Brooks when he was in his prime with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a sure tackler, had phenomenal range, showed discipline and made plays in coverage.
Scarcity - 2: Because nearly half the NFL uses the 3-4 defense, there are more WILL linebackers to go around than ever before. However, it is still somewhat difficult to find an elite player at this position in the NFL Draft because of so many responsibilities that comes with the position. It requires a rare skill set.
Effectiveness - 2: The WILL is the playmaker of the linebacking corps and covers the most ground. If you have a weak link at this position, then a quarterback can have a field day if he knows how to audible and create mismatches.
Money - 2: This position has an average salary.
Durability - 2: Derrick Brooks' career really went downhill around three years ago for Tampa because of a loss of speed. You simply can't maintain the speed this position requires into your mid-to-late 30s.
Introduction to the Positional Value Pyramid
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 1 - Quarterbacks
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 2 - Left Tackles, Right Defensive Ends, Cornerbacks, Rush Linebackers
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 3 - Defensive Tackles, No. 1 Wide Receivers
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 4 Part 1 - Safeties, Nose Tackles, Left Ends, 4-3 Inside Linebackers
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 4 Part 2 - Running Backs, Right Tackles
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 5 Part 1 - No. 2 Wide Receivers, 3-4 Ends, Weakside Linebackers
Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 5 Part 2 - 3-4 Inside Linebacker, Interior Offensive Linemen, Tight End, No. 3 Wide Receivers
Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 6 - Strongside Linebackers, Kickers, Punters
Positional Value Pyramid Spreadsheets
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