Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio NFL Lens examines the Dolphins use of RB Kenyan Drake in the passing game that goes against the positional tendencies of the NFL.
An important facet of scouting talent is identifying and projecting ways that player can contribute to a team. This is essential for scouting as a member of a team because, in theory, scouts, coaches, and management should be aligned in their expectations for rookies and free agents. One way of getting aligned with coaches is learning how they would use a new player based on past behavior or future aspirations if given a talent whose skills match a coach’s ideas.
For example, Kenyan Drake is a good receiver for a running back. Let’s say that 10 years from now I’m working on a staff with Dolphins’ coach Adam Gase or offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and I’m charged with scouting running backs.
If the scouts didn’t have any meetings with coaches to discuss what the coaches want from the position, I’d spend extra time studying the tendencies of Gase or Loggains to determine if anything stuck out about their deployment of the position in the passing game.
Until I determined this type of situation below was uncommon in Gase’s or Loggains’ work, this play would initially catch my eye because Drake and tight end Mike Gesick run routes that are more common with the other’s position. Drake runs a corner route and Gesicki runs an angle route with a delayed release.
This switching of common positional roles has a chance of confusing a defense and generate big plays like the one below.
Working against tendency with routes: Using Kenyan Drake like a TE and Mike Gesicki like a RB. pic.twitter.com/46cnQFqkbg
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 8, 2018
If this is a common element to my coach’s offense, then having a running back who can work deep and tight end with short-area explosion and footwork to run quality angle routes has a heightened value. Players with versatility Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, and DeAndre Swift become better matches at running back and tight ends with short-area quickness, hip mobility and deceleration like Travis Kelce and Jordan Reid also become more intriguing.
The same is true of late-round talents with less developed skills but hand-eye coordination and athletic ability that meets these standards.
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