Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Glossary: Overextending with RB Kendre Miller (TCU)

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Scouting Glossary illustrates with the help of 2023 NFL Draft prospect, Kendre Miller of TCU, why overextending at the collision point as a pass protector places a running back at a disadvantage with his assignments.

What Is Overextending?

Pretty much what you’d expect: leaning too far forward. For pass protection, overextending happens when an offensive player has his head and shoulders over his knees.

While this can be a good body alignment for a running back when he’s carrying the ball, it’s suboptimal for pass protection. A blocker should be in an athletic stance with the knees and hips bent and the head and shoulders high enough that they aren’t leaning over the knees.

A good rule of thumb for a pass protector’s stance: The first two parts of the blocker’s body to make contact with the opponent should be the hands and the chest in that order. If the helmet and/or the shoulders are one of the first two points of contact, it’s likely the blocker is overextending.

Why Is Overextending Bad for Pass Protection?

When a blocker delivers a punch, he should strike first with his hands and use his hips to roll upward to help him generate force through the blow. When a blocker overextends, he’s far less likely for the first point of contact to be with his hands and this diminishes his opportunity to a proper punch with enough force to stifle his opponent.

Placing the head over the body leads to an open invitation for the defender to make contact with the defender’s head and shoulders, which can violently upend the balance of the blocker and send him backward. Overextending leads to the defender initiating the collision and with any collision sport that has elements of combat, the individual who dictates his rhythm holds the advantage.

When a blocker’s position forfeits the opportunity to initiate contact, he’s allowing the opponent to dictate the rhythm of the interaction. It means the blocker is now reacting to the strike while the defender is generating his second movement.

When the blocker dictates his rhythm on the opponent, the defender is reacting to the strike while the blocker is beginning his second move. The inherent advantage sides with the party dictating their rhythm.

Overextending also puts the blocker in a position where he can’t see who he’s hitting during the final phases of movement prior to the collision. When the blocker’s head is down during the final steps of an opponent’s approach to the collision, it tips off the blocker’s position early enough for the defender to adjust his path to the quarterback.

Other than eliminating the blocker’s first-strike initiative, power, and accuracy, there’s nothing wrong with overextending.

What It Looks Like with Kendre Miller

Overextending is a common flaw with running back’s learning to pass protect because they think they have to deliver with everything they’ve got to handle box defenders or a safety screaming downhill into the pocket on a well-timed blitz. Overextending is overcompensating in an attempt to deliver with power.

Running backs often think they have to deliver a hit, which means getting into a hitting stance. It’s not surprising that Miller, a former linebacker, overextends.

Here are two plays where Miller overextends. The first shows that Miller can deliver an uppercut punch, but the overextension limits the potential for him to dictate the action from beginning to end.

The second play shows how Miller’s overextension tips off his opponent.

Miller has the size, athletic ability, and physicality to become an effective pass protector in the NFL. Learning to deliver a balanced punch is about technique, timing, and the willingness to work at it.

Part of working at pass protection is utilizing what you’ve practiced during meaningful reps. This can be something running backs are unwilling to do early in their careers because they’re still learning NFL protections, they’re competing for playing time with a more skilled depth chart, and they’d rather have partial success with the limited tools they’ve used in the past than suffer wholesale failure because they haven’t perfected the optimal techniques.

If Miller embraces the process, he’ll be on his way. Most backs entering the NFL are guilty of overextending, at least against larger defenders. It’s not a killer to their evaluation, but it’s an issue that can hold a talented player back from becoming a lead option or feature back.

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2023 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95.   

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If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat the sexual abuse of children. 

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