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How do you feel about 'versatile' players?


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Some people consider them essential in a limited squad (Bill seems to always have a few), others think of the term 'versatile' as a nicer way of saying 'doesn't do one thing well enough'.

Question: If you were building a team, would you look to plug it with versatile players, or would you stick to specialised roles? Somewhere in between?

 

It's your Kyle Van Noys who can play end, stand up, coverage or rush (not to an elite level in any), or your Taysom Hills who takes snaps at QB/RB/TE/WR but isn't making any top 15 QB list, or your Everett who took 61 snaps inline, 55 from the slot, 126 out wide and even 16 from the backfield.

 

I'm inclined to think that I'd prefer to have 11 players on the field with specialised roles that they can hone in on and perfect and it all comes together for the team in harmony - but then i see what BB has done with players like Vrabel and Hightower and think; that would be hella useful to have one player that can do a few different things - the opposition won't know what's coming! 

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I feel like they could come in handy if injuries are killing your team. I would have a few on both sides of the ball, especially if I had a coach who takes advantage of it,

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Depends on the position, on defense I want corners that can cover really well.

I also want at least one db that can play special teams, nickel, safety. 

On offense we have seen guys play like this regularly, tyreek hill year 1  ransom hill, marshall Faulk was a do it all player, so is Mccaffery and kamara. 

Kyle J.

Jarvis Landry is a very versatile receiver for the browns, he plays from the back field lines up off the los but as a tight end to block, throws passes, plays from the slot and outside. 

He is also a specialist reciever. Ultimately you have to do something very well, but not too well to be a versatile player. If you can do something very well, and get paid top 5 or even top 20 for it they wont risk you on a lesser role.

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I could care less about versatility. I have no issues with guys fitting into very specific roles.

Versatility is great when injuries hit, but I look at Isaiah Simmons last year. He could do a little of everything, but he wasn't really great at anything. I think you screw players up asking them to learn how to do several things. I'd rather have a guy that gets good at playing (1) role within a scheme. Position versatility isn't necessary IMO.

Skill players on offense are another story, but I don't care at all about versatility on defense. Lock guys in and have them see the same looks over and over again. That's how you get really good at something.

 

 

At the HS I coach at, we don't move guys around. We play our strong side to the TE's or multiple receivers sides that way they always see the same looks. Since we moved to keeping our Strong side DE, LB, and S on the same side, it has done wonders for us defensively. Our kids are settled into their roles and they get to do the same thing against concepts they've seen over and over again. It helps slow the game down for them.

 

Everyone talks about the versatility of JOK. Screw that. I don't want him doing anything other than playing STAR linebacker in a 4-3-5 look. That's what he's amazing at. Why get weird with it and start moving him around? That's why I think Isaiah Simmons didn't look awesome right away. Give guys specific roles, especially early on in their careers.

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8 minutes ago, LinebackerGod said:

I could care less about versatility. I have no issues with guys fitting into very specific roles.

Versatility is great when injuries hit, but I look at Isaiah Simmons last year. He could do a little of everything, but he wasn't really great at anything. I think you screw players up asking them to learn how to do several things. I'd rather have a guy that gets good at playing (1) role within a scheme. Position versatility isn't necessary IMO.

Skill players on offense are another story, but I don't care at all about versatility on defense. Lock guys in and have them see the same looks over and over again. That's how you get really good at something.

 

 

At the HS I coach at, we don't move guys around. We play our strong side to the TE's or multiple receivers sides that way they always see the same looks. Since we moved to keeping our Strong side DE, LB, and S on the same side, it has done wonders for us defensively. Our kids are settled into their roles and they get to do the same thing against concepts they've seen over and over again. It helps slow the game down for them.

 

Everyone talks about the versatility of JOK. Screw that. I don't want him doing anything other than playing STAR linebacker in a 4-3-5 look. That's what he's amazing at. Why get weird with it and start moving him around? That's why I think Isaiah Simmons didn't look awesome right away. Give guys specific roles, especially early on in their careers.

4-3-5? It’d be hard to move the ball against 12 guys. 😜

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3 minutes ago, JohnChimpo said:

4-3-5? It’d be hard to move the ball against 12 guys. 😜

It is. It's why so many teams struggle against that defense. I'm doing a coaching clinic on how to effectively run a 4-4-5 next year. Locks everything up with ease.

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5 minutes ago, LinebackerGod said:

It is. It's why so many teams struggle against that defense. I'm doing a coaching clinic on how to effectively run a 4-4-5 next year. Locks everything up with ease.

Haha. Seriously though, I agree with you. The only way it makes sense to me is if you start moving a guy around a little after he has already mastered one position or if he’s a gadget guy like Taysom Hill. I wouldn’t do it with a first round rookie. I’m still trying to figure out why Kingsbury is an HC and not an OC.

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Versatility is something I've really come to value when evaluating players. Coaches value it highly as well, but for reasons in addition to the ones I care about.

For me, being multiple is one of the most important qualities you can have in both an offense and defense in today's NFL. Players are really smart and are getting better and better and keying in on tendencies. With players who can do different things, they can be asked to do different things, which really changes the way another team reads the field pre-snap. I think this is incredibly understated by fans right now. Having a LB or S that is a threat to blitz, but can also cover, is almost invaluable.

For coaches, being versatile means the player has more chances to see the field, which means more opportunities to contribute, which means 2 things: that a player has a better chance of being a 'hit' and contributing in a positive way to the team, and that a player allows you to effectively carry more than 53 men on the roster, which helps in case of injuries and whatever else may happen over the course of a game.

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In terms of my crusade against versatility, I don't mean Special Teams versatility. That is very important. I am speaking more from the perspective of moving a linebacker around and having him play SAM linebacker in base, but then sliding him in to WILL in nickel and then aligning him at RDE in dime. That's crazy.

Or cross training guys. Cam Erving started at LT. Then moved to RT. Then slid in at LG, before being demoted to backup C. That was all in his rookie season, if I recall correctly. That's a horrible thing to do to a player, even if Cam Erving is a fat ball of trash.

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1 hour ago, LinebackerGod said:

It is. It's why so many teams struggle against that defense. I'm doing a coaching clinic on how to effectively run a 4-4-5 next year. Locks everything up with ease.

I’m wondering now why more NFL teams aren’t running the straight 5-5-5 defense.

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I think the core of your team should be specialists. They do just one or two things at a high level and you should build a scheme that puts them in a spot to use their best skills as often as possible.

I think in the bottom half of your roster, that’s where versatility is more important 

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Largely depends on the players and the coaches. It’s hard to quantify it using real world examples because of the varying opinions on players. 

Look at a guy like Dont’a Hightower - can blitz, can play the edge, stuffs the run up the middle, has worked as an outside backer, and was decent in coverage back in the day. Pretty versatile player, overall. But you’d take Lavonte David (who’s a more traditional off the LOS backer) over him in a heartbeat - because he’s just a much better player. But then you’d still take Hightower over a guy like Avery Williamson, who is (was) pretty much just a good run defender. You really just want the better players. 

Now if you have two great players, but one is more versatile than the other, obviously you’d take the guy with the more diverse skill set (styles aside). So as great as Michael Thomas may be as a possession receiver, you’d still want someone like prime Julio, who can pretty much do whatever. 

And those are just random examples. But to simplify, if Player Y is a LBer who is a 9/10 against the run, a 2/10 in coverage, and a 2/10 rushing, you’d probably take him over Player Z who has a 5/10 across the board, because at least you can use him in run defense. Now if you have a Player X who is a 8/10 across the board, you’d probably take him instead, because you’re not caught with your pants down when he’s on the field on a pass play. The answer is, and should be, fluid IMO.

EDIT: If the thread’s being more specific and essentially asking “would you rather have a team of very good, specialized players, or just solid versatile players (because if you had very good versatile players, you’d obviously take them)”, then it comes down to coaching and coachability. If the scheme is just going to stay simple, minimize the disguising, and be “straight up”, you don’t need to prioritize versatility. In a zone blitz scheme, you might really covet that however. And then if the players suck at being coached, then it pays to simplify their job. But if they’re a bunch of team captains that are football nerds, then having them use a diverse skill set in a multitude of ways becomes valuable. It all depends.

Edited by Yin-Yang
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Based on how I'd run different schemes, I'd want some to do everything, some that were more versatile.

QB - Only a QB, maybe some running ability if need be, but job is to get the ball to playmakers downfield.

RB - Needs to be able to run, pass catch or pass protect. Out of 3-4 on the roster, one has to have the ability to line up out wide or in the slot to throw defenses off.

FB - Would be an H-back/TE type who could also play FB

WR - Basketball team. I need a power forward possession guy. A small Forward who can be the No. 1 or No. 2 that can do it all including align in the slot as well, a Shooting guard who is like the forward and a point guard slot man.

TE - One guy is basically a 6th OL with some catching ability. One guy is basically another WR with blocking ability. Third is developmental

OL - 9 guys. Starters are specialized. LT, LG, C, RG, RT once they settle into the role. Backups need versatility. Gameday OG/C, Gameday swing T, gameday guy who can do either G or T.

Offense is all about versatility and mis-matches, except for the OL and QB. Those guys are what they are.

DL - Take on doubles and fill gaps in the run game. Attack the QB in the passing game. No versatility needed except some guys who can play either a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. But for the most part, these guys are fat boys that do fat boy things.

EDGE - Rush the passer and stop the run. Maybe align in different angles, but that's the job. Set the edge. Kill the QB.

LB - These guys better be able to do everything. Whether it's cover a guy in the slot, cover zones, blitz or attack the runner on a run play. That's their job.

CB - This is where versatility comes in. These guys should be able to cover any receiver from any spot on the field. There is no LCB, RCB or Slot guy. There's three guys who go out there and match up by size and speed and then go to work.

S - See CB. But these guys better be able to handle run or pass, deep or intermediate zones, blitzes. Versatility is the name of the game at safety. 

As far as some guys, I'd run a defense that would likely have 2 true DL, 2 true EDGE and 2 true LBs on the field at any given moment. I'd have 2 pure CBs and 2 pure S. But I'd have what they call in college as a STAR. That dude better be a LB sometimes, a CB sometimes and a S sometimes. Think Isaiah Simmons. That's the key cog who can do it all and be the versatile 11th man so I'm not having to worry about whether I'm in base or sub package. 

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