2014 All-Movement Team: Defense

Picking up where we left off earlier this week with our All-Movement: Offense…today, I present with you with the Defense and Special Teams performers.

Defensive Line (2)
General Movement Qualities Evaluated: First-step explosive burst, Ability to move rapidly change direction to move laterally to track down ball carriers

1. J.J. Watt (Texans)
Watt stance

-Potential NFL MVP, no brainer All-Pro, Perennial Pro Bowler
-Biggest movement attribute is his explosive first step to three step acceleration
-Is athletic & versatile enough to be used in numerous situations (moved inside or outside, lines up in the backfield or split out on offense, etc)
-Rate of force development is from another world


2. Cameron Wake (Dolphins)
Cameron Wake

-Off the ball, his anticipation to response/reaction is insane
-Quick/rapid ground contact with explosive horizontal projection with each foot impact
-Absolutely relentless in space
-Maintains angles of force & leverage at all times


Honorable Mention- Chandler Jones (Patriots), Everson Griffen (Vikings), Robert Quinn (Rams), Justin Houston (Chiefs), Connor Barwin (Eagles), Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers)

Inside Linebacker (2)
General Movement Qualities Evaluated: First step explosiveness in all directions, Ability to rapidly cover ground laterally

1. Luke Kuechly (Panthers)
NFL: Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings

-Best pure linebacker in the game right now happens to also be the most efficient moving LB too
-Qualities of movement mastery are very high such as anticipation, perception, and quick decision-making which allows him to be a “step ahead” of the offensive player in many scenarios
-Midrange speed is at a premium (steps 3-8) in any direction
-Great biomechanical positions and control during change of direction moving laterally


2. Bobby Wagner (Seahawks)
NFL: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

-Though sidelined from a number of games this season (foot injury), hard to deny his movement prowess when he is on the field
-Likely the most explosive LB in the League; looks like he is shot from a missile once he starts heading a given direction
-Watch any Seahawks game and you see #54 in the screen at all times due to his non-stop motor and his relentless speed to be just about everywhere on the field (along with Earl Thomas to be mentioned later)
-Still young and seems to be increasing in level of mastery with each & every outing

Honorable Mention- Donta Hightower (Patriots), Chris Borland (49ers), Lawrence Timmons (Steelers)

Outside Linebackers (2)
General Movement Qualities Evaluated: Accelerative burst, Deceleration/Cutting ability to be able to stop quickly to reaccelerate while tracking ball carriers

1. DeAndre Levy (Lions)
Levy 14

-Underrated but ends up everywhere on the field on film
-Has exceptional ability to load rapidly and stop on a dime while keeping him in position to carry out a football task
-Tremendous balance/stabilization when taking on contact or carrying out football tasks (grabbing, shedding, tackling, etc)
-Fantastic linear speed (well-rounded from early steps to high speeds)

2. Von Miller (Broncos)
Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos

-Versatile mover in numerous scenarios
-Very quick first step when going both linearly or laterally
-Tremendous response ability when reacting to opponent’s movement in space; able to put his body into optimal position based on offensive player behaviors

Honorable Mention- Anthony Barr (Vikings), Lavonte David (Buccaneers)

Cornerbacks (2)
General Movement Qualities Evaluated: Mastery of body position & control (especially during cover situations), Movement speed in multiple planes, Athleticism while ball in the air (leaping ability, tracking, kinesthetic
awareness, etc)

1. Darrelle Revis (Patriots)
Revis 14

-Not the fastest or most explosive CB playing the game; but in my opinion just the most technically sound & efficient
-With emphasis in recent years on defensive penalties in the pass game, technical mastery is that much more important and the proficiency Revis displays proves this
-Doesn’t rely on physical qualities to perform his job but because of mastery of positional demands and his on-field perception & anticipation allows him to consistently be in the right places at the right time
-No panic; constantly calm & confident

2. Vontae Davis (Colts)
Davis 14

-Usually very underrated by those across the NFL except players who have to play against him
-So instinctive when in coverage; reacts to movement in front of him to jump routes, break up passes, etc
-Dangerous when making a play once he has possession of the ball in his hands; behaves like a true offensive player in those scenarios
-Very explosive & powerful in a variety of movement patterns & actions (probably has a few genetics to work with his brother being 49ers freak, Vernon Davis)
-Can flip his hips and turn and run with just about any WR he is asked to face

Honorable Mention- Richard Sherman (Seahawks), Brent Grimes (Dolphins), Patrick Peterson (Cardinals), Joe Haden (Browns), Chris Harris (Broncos)

Safeties (2)
General Movement Qualities Evaluated: 360 degree movement ability (acceleration, stopping, changing direction), Movement speed to snipe guys from anywhere in the field in both aspects of the game, Athleticism while ball in the air (leaping ability, tracking, kinesthetic awareness, etc)

1. Earl Thomas (Seahawks)
Thomas 14

-Still the cream of the crop for Safeties: not only is he a perennial All-Pro but his movement proficiency is special
-Whether you watch film from one game or a slate of 16 across the season, you will rarely see Thomas out of position during the wide variety of movement tasks that Safeties in this day and age in the NFL are entrusted with
-Top end speed and the range of a cornerback
-Has the ability to place his body in short directional changes like an offensive player


2. Eric Weddle (Chargers)
Weddle 14

-Moves exceptionally well under a variety of demands & situations (moving in transition, deceleration, preparing body for carrying out football tasks, etc)
-Very good control of his body in space but when he puts the acceleration hammer down he’s coming in a hurry
-Uses superb acceleration mechanics and body angles out of even compromising positions

Honorable Mention- Harrison Smith (Vikings), Devin McCourty (Patriots)

Special Teams
Kick Returner (1)

General Movement Qualities Evaluated: Top end speed (mechanics & ability), Curvilinear running ability (mechanics & speed), Open-field decision-making

1. Jacoby Jones (Ravens)
Jones 14

-Fast in the open field with a head of team; like real fast…like blazing fast
-Can go from a high running position to a low one rapidly as he sets guys up in space for changing direction
-Very solid proficiency of lunge/speed cut at relatively high speeds

Honorable Mention- Josh Cribbs (Colts), Adam Jones (Bengals)

Punt Returner (1)
General Movement Qualities Evaluated: Stopping in multiple biomechanical positions, Movement strategy use in chaotic conditions, Rapid acceleration

1. Darren Sproles (Eagles)
Sproles 14

-One of the most efficient decelerators in the game (due to naturally low center of gravity and tremendous eccentric loading ability)
-Gets into sharp cutting angles both in tight spaces as well as in open areas
-Is able to hit high relative speeds in short periods of time
-Can execute numerous cutting styles (power cut, speed cut, crossover, lunge, unilateral, etc) from a variety of preliminary positions

Honorable Mention- Devin Hester (Falcons), Adam Jones (Bengals)


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