Being that I will be at NFL Training Camps nearly every day, I want to take a few moments each day to break down a new player or two that I am relatively unfamiliar with (i.e. a guy that I haven’t worked with before). So in addition to the time that I am spending there analyzing my own players I am going to put out some content including insight regarding what types of things I am see popping out at first glance with some of these other guys.
It should be noted that most of the time I would extensively dissect player’s movement during game analysis which would include frame-by-frame breakdown to truly get an idea of what’s happening when he moves. Thus, I am going to likely miss a lot with these very brief evaluations based on my visual analysis of the guy playing live. Obviously, with the extent of detail that I usually go into with analysis of a player’s strengths and weaknesses, if I was doing this in preparation for working with the guy I would take the time to watch an extensive amount of game-film to see him play in multiple situations. This will be a limitation during camp practices as there are only so many plays that you get a chance to see from each guy.
On this Tuesday morning (before camp), I wanted to share a few thoughts about a guy who was initially brought to my attention on Twitter of all places; rookie free agent, Bradley Randle out of UNLV (now #38 for the Vikings). Though, at first glance, Randle appears to be a long-shot to make the team he is extremely intriguing and the intrigue became even greater the more I got a chance to watch him. Though I don’t want to make this blog page about analyzing team personnel decisions I would love to see either Randle or Joe Banyard make that team as a true change of pace, scatty-type guy who can still deliver power and bring a variety of skills to the mix. I think either guy represents those types of tactical characteristics. Anyway, I digress…back to what I know about…movement!
To start, let me say that I may be slightly biased to Bradley’s size being that we are essentially built identically (though his arms may actually be a bit bigger than mine…maybe!). Thus, I don’t hold his size against him at all. I think Barry Sanders, Ray Rice, MJD, and a host of others have proven that guys can succeed at the highest level while being this size. In addition, at the position (even in this day and age in the NFL), this stature can actually lead to a great deal of advantages especially in the complex movement patterns required within it. This is especially true if an athlete is durable enough to take repetitive hits (this concern is the normal knock against these “smaller” guys) but one look at Randle and I think that doubt immediately leaves most people’s minds. The guy is out there to not only make a move on someone (which I will talk about in a bit) but he doesn’t mind lowering the boom once in awhile which he actually showed on a few occasions in Monday’s practice including taking out an unsuspecting DB (? On who it was) while having a ball in his hands. He is a thick and powerful character that it’s easy to see is always playing with a ton of attitude. We also now follow each other on Twitter and it should be noted that the kid appears to be grateful for every chance that he gets which is something to note even though it is beyond the scope of this blog.
As mentioned in last night’s post on CP84, guys can change their movement patterns (as well as muscle coordination sequences) as soon as pads get on and true hitting ensues (even if it’s just “thud” tempo). That said I saw the same type of movement from #38 yesterday as I did over the weekend when he wasn’t in pads. When he sticks his foot into the ground, Randle puts a ton of force down with aggressiveness and little hesitation. There isn’t a ton of wasted energy or movement as he displays great acceleration mechanics with or without a ball in his hand. Once moving at higher speeds he has what appears to be pretty long strides for a shorter dude and yet is pretty reactive (i.e. displays fairly quick ground contact/fast steps) with those strides at that speed. I have no idea what types of numbers he put up on his Pro Day but it really doesn’t matter to me because the guy possesses the physical characteristics to play plenty fast in a variety of situations (including special teams, etc).
As for his multi-directional movement/change of direction, his arms stay tight when he is controlling his body to move and into re-accelerations. I would like to see him use his naturally lower center of mass/center of gravity more by widening his base of support (i.e. separating his feet further if his feet are parallel to one another and/or getting greater range of motion at both his hip and knee) when he is coming to a stop or looking to move in either direction laterally. This seemed to be more apparent in short space when he is looking to make something happen. Instead, in situations when he is stopping his forward motion and decelerating into a plant his feet get too close for my liking. Because of this, he has a tendency to get his front leg too far out in front of him in re-accelerations out of cuts. However, it should be noted that both LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith predominantly did the same thing in most instances on-field and I would say that both of those guys did OK with themselves (insert sarcastic tone there). That all said, I would still like to see him develop the ability in these types of short spaces in the NFL where he would square his feet/hips/shoulders so he can power cut out of that stopping position in either direction.
When in open space and at higher movement velocities, he has really solid body control and displays a good deal of stability and mobility (of course, all movement is technically the relationship between those two variables). Of course, many guys of his size are a little more quad dominant in general and Randle is no different. From a training standpoint, I do think he needs to work on some faster eccentric-based work for both his quads/glutes to allow for even greater movement control during rapid decelerations, stopping, and cutting actions.
All in all, I hope that Randle continues to show and shine out in camp to take full advantage of this opportunity. Even if he isn’t playing with the Minnesota Vikings, he can and will play somewhere in the league, in my opinion.