A great example of pad level from a wide receiver? Go figure.
What’s the most important thing you look for in a player? It’s easily in the top-10 of common questions that I get about evaluating football prospects for a living.
One essential answer is comfort giving and receiving physical contact. You’d think this quality is a given if you play football, but it isn’t.
There are degrees of comfort in each. On one extreme are the bullies; they can dish it out, but they lose their edge when they’re served a dose of their own medicine. On the other are the warriors that never take the fight to the opponent, but they’ll get hammered all day and keep coming back for more.
There are a multitude of examples that fit every range of giving and taking physical contact, but the specific focus of today’s post is pad level. There are a lot of benefits for a ballcarrier that plays with good pad level:
- Combined with his momentum, he can push a larger man backwards.
- He can run through defenders attacking him from indirect angles.
- He can bounce off direct hits and prevent defenders from wrapping him.
- He can get under defenders whose size and strength will counteract the power his momentum and earn yards he wouldn’t earn through a direct collision.
- He can knock defenders to the ground and slide over top.
A ballcarrier who could do all of these things at the highest level was Edgerrin James. But the example of pad level I’m sharing today comes from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry.
Landry gains six yards after contact on this play because he accelerates into the contact and times the dip of his shoulder to the correct attack point under the defender’s pads.
When used as a method of attack, pad level is like a good punch in the sense that all of the energy behind it is focused on a single point of impact. Landry’s aiming point is his inside shoulder.
Landry’s aiming point with his pad level also accounts for ball security. It allows him to turn the ball away from the defender and even use his inside arm as an extra measure of protection.
Not only is this pad level essential to Landry earning the first down on this 2nd and 20, it sends a message to Pittsburgh’s defensive backs that he’ll be here all day.