Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake–Reshaping the Hit

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines the technique behind running backs winning at the point of contact during a collision with a play from new Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake.

 One of the best terms I’ve learned about tackling comes from USA Football’s Andy Ryland a former Penn State linebacker and All-American Rugby player: reshaping the body.

This phrase describes the effect a technically-sound hit should have on a ballcarrier. If you want to learn more about tackling from someone who breaks it down to nearly 30 key process indicators, check out our podcast from last year on the subject.

During this conversation, I broached the idea that good ball carries also do things to reshape the hitter—something that Ryland appreciated. I used Jamaal Charles as an example of a great back with a smaller profile who did this well. Charles had a variety of methods to win collisions by reshaping the hitter before the hitter could reshape him.

The most common is the forearm shiver—a weapon in almost every back’s arsenal. While on the athletic spectrum of Charles, Kenyan Drake was nowhere near the caliber of a technician as the former Chief when the Dolphins drafted him way too early for my taste.

A raw athlete, Drake needed a couple of years to figure out the basics of running behind a zone-blocking scheme, how to translate they ways his footwork could set up where his eyes wanted to go, and when to move with greater efficiency instead of jump-cutting all over the field like a bewildered cricket.

Just as Drake displayed improved with these skills, he fell out of favor with the Dolphins. Drake had a scintillating debut with the RB-needy Cardinals on Thursday night. During this showcase, Drake showed how to reshape the hitter with the forearm shiver and I explain why the position of the arm and attack is a mechanism for yards after contact that keeps the runner in position to continue forward.

Think of the forearm shiver as a buffer. Kind of like the atmospheric ring around our planet that helps disintegrate much of the space matter hurdling towards us on a daily basis so it doesn’t create an impact that will disrupt our orbit.

That is if you still believe in science in this upside-down era of popular society…that’s for another time.

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