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Exploring the 3-4 Defense - 2006 NFL Draft

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by Dough Boy, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. Dough Boy

    Dough Boy Seldom Seen

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    Jeremy Osborne -- The 3-4 defense and how it changes the face of the NFL draft.
    With the influx of NFL teams using the 3-4 defense there are new and moderately altered positions that are created. The main position I am referring to is the OLB position in the 3-4 defense. The best part about the 3-4 defense and the OLB position is that it creates a spot for tweener DEs and OLBs to play. There are many players that are not big enough to play DE but are not athletic enough always to be a straight out OLB, but they flourish in that position as a pass rusher in a 3-4 defense.

    The 3-4 defense differs from a typical 4-3 defense in respect to the fact that the OLB is primarily a pass rusher, however he is not a down lineman or typical DE. Instead an OLB in the 3-4 defense is a stand up pass rusher that can also drop back in pass coverage at any time. Teams that use a 3-4 defense currently in the NFL are the Browns, Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Cowboys, Chargers and 49ers. That makes 7 teams out of 32 NFL teams using that defensive system, other teams that have either used the 3-4 or hinted to making that switch in the past are the Bills, Falcons, Jets, Ravens, Raiders and Vikings. This typical defense usually follows around certain defensive coordinators, however more and more franchises are choosing to us it ever since the great success the Patriots and Steelers have had in the past.

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    The premiere OLB prospects in a 3-4 defense are as follows. Bobby Carpenter I believe is the best prospect for that style of defense, he has shown the ability to be a down lineman at DE and be a great pass rusher. He is athletic enough to play pass coverage as well so ideally the 3-4 defense would best suit him and he could do wonders at that position. Another potentially great OLB is Tamba Hali, he was a great DE at Penn State, but if you combine his strength and power and put him in a stand up position he could be very hard to handle. {Mathias Kiwanuka could potentially be an OLB pass rusher as well, but he would be the type of OLB that is primarily a pass rusher similar to the likes of Willie McGinest or Steve Foley. Yes Mathias could play DE at the next level, however with his length and difficulty at times at the point of attack, OLB could free him up possibly. Potentially the greatest OLB prospect is Manny Lawson. He would be a terror off the edge rushing the passer, he might not have ideal strength to play DE and stop the run so being a specialty OLB pass rusher could be the best for him. Then you have Kamerion Wimbley, another DE that might be to skinny to play DE because of his lack of strength straight up at the point of attack. But with his quickness and ability to get around the edge he could be a great OLB, and he is definitely a good enough athlete to play that position. [IMG]

    Then you have the more undersized 3-4 OLB prospects, potentially the best one is Elvis Dumervil. The kid can simply rush the passer. Best scenario is that he plays OLB, and with his quickness off the edge he could be a great pass rusher being able to come clean off the ball freely. Then you have Parys Haralson, a big physical athlete but lacks idea size, he is another player that could really flourish at that position, the same can be said for Mark Anderson another gifted strong athlete. Along the lines of specific specialty pass rushers, Stanley McClover and Eric Henderson can simply get to the QB, and if put in the position to primarily do that as a OLB they could be a real force. However if they were to play DE, they could have problems at the line of scrimmage because of their lack of strength. Then there are the DEs who accumulate a lot of tackles, which potentially opens the door for them being a 3-4 OLB. Players that fit that mold are Frostee Rucker and Jeremy Mincey, both of them were very skilled at getting tackles close to the line of scrimmage from their DE position. That ability to be strong at the point of attack, yet still be able to get to the pass rusher could prove to be useful as more of a run stopping OLB in a 3-4 defense. Both can really make tackles in traffic standing up which can fill a role in the 3-4 defense.
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    Then there are the sleeper 3-4 OLB prospects, first are for most is Chris Gocong, a player that has a real skill for getting to the QB. He stays low, gains good leverage despite his small frame. Along the lines of very undersized DEs that will greatly benefit from being able to make the transition to 3-4 OLB, Garrett McIntyre for one is a player with a great motor and toughness. Two other small DEs that are specialty pass rushers that could make the transition are Javon Nanton and Brandon Perkins. One of the most polished OLB prospects is the quick and athletic Jon Alston, do not be surprised if he gets snatched up very early by one of the typical 3-4 defensive teams because of his quickness and athletic ability. Then you have probably one of the weakest college DE prospects at the point of attack in Ryan LaCasse, but if you put him as a stand up OLB he can use his great speed and minimize his inability to hold up against bigger stronger offensive lineman. Two very long and lengthy OLB prospects are Brandon Guillory and Charleton Keith. Keith is great at getting into the backfield but most likely cannot play as a down DE and Guillory is a raw prospect but has a lot of potential.

    Even though it is not a fore gone conclusion that all of these players will end up being a 3-4 OLB, some will stay at the DE position. There is a history of undersized DEs succeeding in the NFL because getting to the QB is getting to the QB, and if you can accomplish that you can play. However some of these players will greatly benefit and potentially be much better off in a 3-4 defensive system.

    Another position that is created because of the increase in the use of the 3-4 defense is a strong stout DE. The following players could fit the mold of a strong stout DE in 3-4 defense, and that position cannot be understated because it is key to the overall success to a 3-4 defense.

    Brodrick Bunkley
    Claude Wroten
    John McCargo
    Victor Adeyanju
    Dusty Dvoracek
    Melvin Oliver
    Julius Jenkins
    Marcus Green
    Michael Bozeman

    Then there is the DT or NT spot, because OLBs in the 3-4 defense do most of the pass rushing, inside lineman like a DT do not have to rush the passer as well normal DTs in 4-3 defenses have to. Thus the big boys, the big immovable objects are most likely to get picked up by a 3-4 defensive team because of their size and they do not have to always be gifted pass rushers as long as they can stuff the run. These players could potentially benefit from that in this years draft.

    Haloti Ngata
    Gabriel Watson
    Jesse Mahelona
    Babatunde Oshinowo
    Johnny Jolly
    Gerald Anderson
    TJ Jackson

    In conclusion the 3-4 defense, most notably the OLB in the 3-4 defense changes the face of the NFL draft because teams which use that style of defense usually attempt to collect players that fit into that system. Currently there are 7 teams that will draft unconventional OLBs, DEs or DTs because they fit into the 3-4 style of defense. Players that might be considered to small or too much of a tweener by other teams are coveted by 3-4 defensive teams.
  2. Bob Sacamano

    Bob Sacamano Benched

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    great article, thanks, and wow, what a time to be in need of an OLB, it's loaded with them
  3. AsthmaField

    AsthmaField Outta bounds

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    Ain't that the truth. Lawson, Carpenter, Wimbley, Hali... any of them would be great.

    Then there are some later round guys (2nd, 3rd, 4th) like Elvis Dumervil who could see significant playing time in passing situations at our OLB position.

    We'll get some good OLB prospects in this draft, just watch. I wouldn't be surprised if we get more than one. Carpenter in round one and Elvis in round 3 would be nice. Elvis could grow into a very good player. I could even see him at ILB in a couple of years.
  4. Dough Boy

    Dough Boy Seldom Seen

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    I didn't realize there were so many viable options until reading this article. The top Four in my opinion: in no particular order
    1. Mark Anderson
    2. Kamerion Wimbley
    3. Bobby Carpenter
    4. Manny Lawson

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