I was inspired to write this post when I ran across this article from CowboysHQ KD Drummond, who wrote about the “Money Five”. The Money Five is a term that Drummond coined that are the five positions in the NFL that receive the highest salary in the NFL: quarterback, wide receiver, tackle, edge rusher and cornerback. Most teams pay these five positions more than any other and the idea is that these are the spots where you’ll likely spend some money to acquire talent and if you can get a player at one of these spots without having to spend a lot of money, that’s even better.
So of course, I wanted to consider where Texas Tech sits currently at these spots, how well Texas Tech has recruited to these positions and how well those positions are leveraged moving forward.
Sounds like fun, right?
Right now, there may not be a team better positioned than Texas Tech, at least in the Big 12. Two quarterbacks who saw time last year, a sophomore in Patrick Mahomes who impressed at the end of the season and a junior in Davis Webb is is camping with quarterback-guru George Whitfield with the hopes of getting better. The problem is that getting past these two could be very problematic and the only option would be a Nic Shimonek, the Iowa transfer or a walk-on. The flip of Jarret Stidham created a void in the class, but not recruiting one quarterback for one year won’t kill you. Losing out this year as well at quarterback would be very problematic. Jett Duffey should remedy that for me. I don’t mind missing on a quarterback in a given year, but missing on a quarterback two years in a row would be very problematic. So a lot hinges on Duffey (or if he decommits, someone else) being really good for Texas Tech moving forward.
This was very problematic leading up to this year. Very problematic. So much was dependent on Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler making it and thus far, that hasn’t happened. With Wheeler, he transferred out and now, that legacy is left up to Davis to ensure. Dylan Cantrell hasn’t come into his own just yet either, but there’s time. And in limited and late-season action, Devin Lauderdale has been really productive and I’m pretty happy with what he did.
Truthfully, this team lacked a huge playmaker at receiver and this was and has to be a huge priority moving forward. It’s why I think that the coaching staff was intent on upgrading as immediately as possible. This tells me two things: 1) the coaching staff is not satsified with the current group of wide receivers; and 2) they want a huge playmaker, emphasis on huge.
Obviously, the commitment of J.F. Thomas,w hich may or may not happen, but that doesn’t mean that the coaches just relied on on Thomas, with big receivers Quan Shorts, Donta Thompson, Jonathan Giles and Tony Brown. Don’t rest on your laurels or thinking that one guy is going to get it done. That’s four wide receivers who the coaches are trying to find an impact.
And the coaches are not done. In 2016, Texas Tech has gone after four additional wide receivers and a tight end. All at 6’0″ or taller and are athletic out the wazoo. Derrick Willies, T.J. Vasher, Antoine-Cox Wesley, DeQuan Bowman (fudging a bit here as he’s almost 6’0″) and Donte Coleman, the tight end that the coaches should absolutely love to create match-up problems all over the field.
The coaches are leveraging big-time playmakers here and they have to do this every year. They let a year get by where it didn’t happen and I think that’s why you see the lack of a big-time playmaker on the outside being an issue for this team.
Le’Raven Clark and Le’Raven Clark. Seriously, this has been a pretty rough patch, where players haven’t panned out and Texas Tech is faced with starting a redshirt freshman at right tackle. That probably shouldn’t happen for this team, but here we are. For me, I think there are two legitimate tackles on the team, Clark and Justin Murphy, although I don’t think I’ve seen enough of Poet Thomas to make a decision about him. I’d also guess that Paul Stawarz could pay tackle, but after that, it’s slim pickings.
But the coaching staff went all-in for the 2015 class, grabbing what I think are four tackle prospects in Madison Akamnonu, Conner Dyer and Trace Ellison. That’s three really high rated tackle prospects and I think the coaching staff knew that they had to get some highly rated tackle spots. These guys look at depth charts too and there will be opportunities next year.
I still need to see more film on Emoree Giddens. I’m hesitating to make that determination until I see some more film and I don’t know how high profile Gio Pancotti will turn out, but they are both good athletes and I think they both project at tackles and not interior players.
Either way, the coaching staff had to replenish the tackle spot. It’s fine this year (so long as Clark stays healthy) but there’s going to be a lot of movement starting next year.
Well . . . the coaching staff have some things to figure out here. This year, Pete Robertson and Branden Jackson set the edge. Good right now. Gotta figure out next year and beyond. For me, I think the sleeper at Robertson’s spot is Zach Barnes, Kris Williams and maybe Dakota Allen or Mike Mitchell who could swing there in 2016, but way back in April, I thought that the options were to maybe have Andre Ross redshirt this year so he could be “the guy” in 2016 or Gary Moore would maybe need to really start to be the guy next year or maybe some unnamed JUCO.
And I guess I need to consider a couple of things. I think I see Moore being a strongside defensive end, or at least that’s the idea or hope, while some of these other guys are at the other side.
Weakside Defensive Ends: Zach Barnes, Kris Williams and Lonzell Gilmore
Strongside Defensive Ends: Andre Ross, Gary Moore and Talor Nunez
So, as you can see, Texas Tech hasn’t recruited an edge guy, or what jumps out to me as a pass rushing specialist other than Gilmore in the last class. The good news is that the coaching staff seems to recognize the lack of edge rushers and have two edge guys in Noah Jones and Houston Miller. I’m sure there will be more on the defensive side of things, but this is a pretty good start.
I think it’s safe to safe that defensive back is the one position where there are plenty of players. I think I counted sometime back and there are 17 scholarship players in the secondary. That’s plenty of bodies for 4 spots. And I think we all somewhat feel that the cornerback spot isn’t perfect, but it is well-positioned moving forward. With Nigel Bethel II and Tevin Madison along with a swing guy like Jah’Shawn Johnson, you’ve got the 2014 class well represented at cornerback, while Texas Tech also has Justis Nelson and D.J. Polite-Bray who are upper-classmen and Paul Banks, the lone JUCO signee from the 2015 class.
Other than Banks and maybe Joseph Clark, there weren’t any additions in the 2015 class, but it does appear that the coaching staff wants a bit of a different cornerback, the tall and rangy type rather than the 5’9″ to 5’10” cornerback. That doesn’t mean that these smaller guys do not have a place, I think we’re all but certain that they will see some significant time.
The biggest area of concern for me is the weakside defensive end and the tackle spots, although until I see something from some of these young receivers, I think we could go ahead and add the wide receiver group. Moving forward, I think the coaches knew that they needed to address certain positions and they’ve done that to an extent.