Biomechanical Draft Review 2022: Rounds 2- 5

The first 5 rounds of Denver’s 2022 draft showed a very different emphasis from the 2021 draft. Where in 2021 the focus seemed to be on drafting powerful players who could contribute to improving the physicality/ toughness of the roster, in 2022 players seemed to be selected more for specific high level skills. In terms of biomechanical orientation, 5 of the first 6 drafted players are medial centric anterior dominant, which as a gross generalization is often characterized by superior control and quickness. Greg Dulcich is the only player on this list to show a different orientation, and it is still anterior dominant (lateral oriented). Overall then, these players are generally more characterized by finesse and control than by toughness and strength. However, Paton and co still seem to have done an excellent job overall in finding top tier athletes to draft. And this draft will likely present several immediate impact players in important roles.

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UDFA Showcase: Ja’Quan McMillian

Hi guys, before we get to the impressions of Denver’s 2022 draft class, I wanted to highlight an UDFA gem (and one of Denver’s 30 pre-draft visitations), CB Ja’Quan McMillian. Let me start by saying that, at this moment, McMillian is likely Denver’s very best rookie CB, and not by a close margin (Mathis has perhaps greater long-term potential, and will be discussed separately)**. This is because McMilian (who was PFF’s top rated cover corner in 2021) shows a very rare trait for a DB– full efficiency in his posterior medial lumbar areas. This full lumbar efficiency gives McMillian the ability to mirror and shift his hips to match with his assigned cover at an extremely high level, even as his baseline speed/ strength appear somewhat underwhelming.

**Edit 5/14/22: This statement was based on early study of Mathis and Hicks– later more detailed study showed that Mathis (and perhaps Hicks) would likely out-play McMillian even if the season started immediately (May 2022)

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Nathaniel Hackett’s Projected Denver Offense: Part 2

The play of the offensive line is arguably the most distinctive, recognizable, and crucial element of Shanahan-tree offenses. The very best lines playing this style of offense (such as LA Rams and SF 49ers) appear almost to move as one, with each player forging one link of a moving phalanx. Players are coached to play by certain relatively simple rules– whether a player is “covered” (meaning with a defensive player lined up opposite them), “uncovered”(meaning the opposite), and to the play side or not– determines the entirety of the offensive lineman’s role. However, within those simple rules are endlessly complex nuances, with specific steps accounted for, and with players required to fully trust that those to each side of them are following those rules (about who to block, who to team block, and who to ignore) with equal subtlety and commitment.

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Nathaniel Hackett’s Projected Denver Offense: Part 1

The Denver Broncos offensive roster, as currently constructed, presents both opportunities and dilemmas. On the one hand, you have a generational talent at QB, returning to the sort of scheme that brought him two Super Bowl appearances (one win) early in his career. On the other hand, you have a young, largely untested offensive roster consisting of players who were (in many cases) drafted to play a very different scheme with very different demands. As such, how Denver’s young recently-drafted players are able to develop and build their skillsets will determine, to a large extent, how successful (and how diverse) Nathaniel Hackett’s Denver offense will become.

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Biomechanical Review: Russell Wilson

Note: this is the first biomechanical review of the 2022 offseason. As such, there have been seven months since the previous biomechanical review, and in those seven months there have been significant improvements made to analytical methods, particularly relating to the medial posterior and lateral anterior areas. So if there are discrepancies between findings posted below and previous analytical findings (such as Wilson’s currently stated 3 vs previously stated 4 areas of full thoracic efficiency), this is likely due to updated methods resulting in new data.

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Shanahan Scheme Analysis: Part 1

So what is it about Mike Shanahan’s wide zone based scheme that makes it so hard to defend? Every team runs wide zone runs (also called ‘outside zone’ runs), so what is so special about an offense based around this play? What is it that made Mike Shanahan tell SI, “if you really believe in the outside zone, if you can use those techniques in the running game successfully, you can adjust against all those defenses. It starts on a day-to-day basis, believing in what you’re doing.”

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Biomechanical Impressions: 2021 Preseason Week 1

With NFL Game Pass now having stripped away the option to select specific plays in favor of only showing full or condensed games (at least for preseason), a rigorous biomechanical review of preseason games has become all but impossible. This then is an informal impressions piece, based on scrubbing through preseason week 1 games.

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