With the first week of free agency now in the books, let’s take a biomechanical look at Denver’s early haul
Kareem Jackson is an anterior dominant player, favoring his medial areas. He shows full development in all biomechanical areas, with no obvious red flags for injury. On tape, he shows excellent recognition skills, with good anticipation and quick mirror movements. His long-speed however, appears to have diminished substantially with age. Although Jackson is quick to maneuver and make adjustments, he looks likely to struggle staying pace to pace with speedier receivers down the field. As a CB, he will likely need safety help over the top when covering fast outside receivers (and he may be forced to transition to safety if his speed continues to diminish). However, as an instinctual quick-reading/ reacting player, Jackson appears to be an excellent fit in Vic Fangio’s style of defense (which requires CBs to keep the play in front of them and read the play/ backfield). A great system fit, and a smart/ physical defender who can hopefully stay ahead of his age/ speed curve over the length of his Denver contract.
Bryce Callahan is a posterior dominant player, favoring his lateral areas. From the waist up, he appears almost like a clone of Chris Harris Jr.- similarly high levels of posterior/ lateral thoracic efficiency translate to strong ability to track/ redirect shifty receivers using the upper-body/ arms. Also like CHJ, Callahan appears very quick to react to the play/ receiver in front of him and is therefore an excellent fit in Fangio’s style of defensive backfield (hardly a surprise with his coming from Chicago). However, Callahan’s lumbar areas appear distinctly under-developed, particularly in the medial areas. It is almost certainly no coincidence that all 3 of Callahan’s career injuries involved his lower body. Although Callahan is a quick, physical, and instinctive defender, it appears likely that Callahan’s injury woes will continue in Denver. However, for as long as he is healthy, he will likely be a playmaker for Fangio’s defense.
Ja’Wuan James is an anterior dominant player, favoring his lateral areas. He shows good levels of anterior efficiency (particularly laterally), and is a quick-moving player. His 2018 anterior lumbar efficiency appeared compromised; however a review of his 2017 tape suggest that this was due to injury in 2018 (disclosed as a patellar tendon injury). There are no obvious red flags for future injury. However, James may be susceptible to future repetitive stress-type injuries due to apparently-lacking posterior lumbar independence.
James’s posterior thoracic efficiency (upper body strength) is reasonably high for an anterior dominant player, but heavily balanced towards his lateral areas- his center-core strength is not terribly impressive. And his posterior lumbar efficiency is also lacking- he does not show strong leg-drive. In a gap-blocking/ man-blocking scheme, James would appear to be a potential liability, unable to drive his man backward or open holes with forward strength/ leg-drive. However, James’ mobility and lateral strength likely make him a much better fit in a wide-zone Shanahan/ Kubiak-style scheme. Teamed with a strong RG/ TE in a zone scheme, James may become a very effective player- this may be an instance where coaching plays a large role in a player’s success. However, from an individual biomechanical standpoint, James does not appear to be an elite system-agnostic tackle.
The one who got away- Matt Paradis is an anterior dominant player, favoring his medial areas. Technically very proficient, Paradis is highly efficient with his movements, but not in his biomechanics. There are no areas where Paradis shows above average biomechanical efficiency, particularly when compared to other positions. He plays very effectively in a toll-booth, but when asked to extend plays or hold blocks longer than expected, his athleticism becomes a liability. Nevertheless, the nature of the center position is that it is a technically demanding position more than it is an athletically challenging one. This speaks to the work ethic/ football intelligence of Paradis; however it also speaks to the replaceable nature of the position- it is harder to find elite athletes than it is to find ones who can be coached to play effectively. So even though Paradis is a better center than James is a tackle (at least from a scheme-agnostic position), Paradis is likely much easier to replace.