I wonder how many of us MHR regulars are closet talent evaluators? For some reason one of the greatest pleasures for this poster is evaluating talent from Pee Wee all the way up to the pros. Elevating "football intelligence" to the level of pure athleticism was driven home on one of my Pee Wee teams. There was this highly athletic individual that I made QB due to his ability to impact a game solely on his ability to run and throw. A great kid he was running, making plays, good arm but the problem was he couldn't remember left from right under pressure. My team lost every game that year. The next I had my choice of three highly athletic backs ...guess what my first priority was...Yes, a quarterback who could tell left from right. Talk about smart that little dude even did a darn good job of impresonating Elway on the hard count, especially at the right time, 3rd and short. We won the championship that year.
There are two major criteria that jump out when spotting the "exceptional" talent. One is football intelligence, the type that is always paying attention, the one who never takes time off even between plays as he is constantly watching everything from a nod of a head in the huddle to a coach talking to a player on the sidelines and rushing in a "special" play. He's the one who will lay back on such an occasion and either bust up the play or force a turnover. Anybody remember Billy Thompson? The second is "burst". I remember watching Alfred Williams when he was a freshman and telling my cousin, who was the golf coach at CU, that Alfred was going to be a special player. You can't coach burst and you can't coach football intelligence. What you can coach is combining burst with intelligence.
I CANNOT wait for training camp and preseason due to the fact we have multiple D-backs that exhibit both of those stellar qualities. The obvious ones are Baily and Dawkins (he may be aging but there's still that "burst") but it looks to me that Alphonso Smith has these qualities based on the videos I've been watching. One that seemed to get lost in the shuffle last year was Jack Williams. Talk about burst and anticipation, this guy comes out of nowhere even on a television screen.
All this talent will be wasted if the QB has too long to throw. The question marks as to who and where the pressure will come from and whether we can stop the run so the other team has to pass are multiple to say the least. My prediction is we will be more than adequate in the middle of the defense (I know, I know we don't have a premier NT). I didn't say great but "more than adequate". We may be 2-3 three players away from a great defense but one or two of these may already be on the roster in the form of those making the conversion from D-line to LB, Doom, Ayers, Crowder, and Moss. Any two of these guys work out and it could be a bit.xx**ch to run against this D.
Okay, the foundation is laid for the point of my High Risk HIgh Reward headline. The bet here is Nolan will run a high risk D with lots of blitzes and stunts thereby setting up plenty of opportunities for picks and turnovers. Of Course, the obvious risk is the other team breaking off log plays for scores. Couple this with what I think will be a high risk special teams mentality and we will be an entertaining team to watch, something that was missing at times over the last several years.
The keys to a successful year will be the linebacker conversions and the interior D-line MUST be at least adequate. The bottom line is we have the potential to be a playoff team AND we seem to be laying the foundation for a VERY solid team over the next couple of years.
The only problem now is patience in waiting for training camp to open:O)