WPB Dawg Fan Posted December 12, 2008 Report Share Posted December 12, 2008 I found this and it is really interesting: Nfl Draft Basics: 3-4 Defense Characteristics of Linebackers and Lineman in a 3-4 System By Primetime, published Feb 13, 2008 Today in the NFL, the 3-4 defense is becoming increasingly popular, with more and more teams converting to the 3-4 scheme. However, one of the problems of a 3-4 defense is that the players of the front seven greatly differ from players of a 4-3 defense. Converting to a 3-4 from a 4-3 is not as simple as taking out one lineman and adding a linebacker. The job description of each position changes, as well as the characteristics and traits of each player. In addition, drafting players for a 3-4 is entirely different. Because most college teams employ a 4-3, scouts and managers of NFL teams must be able to project how 4-3 players will do in a 3-4 system, by looking at physical traits and abilities in certain areas. Nose Tackle (NT): In the 3-4 defense, the most important position is that of the Nose Tackle. The Nose Tackle, or NT, plays in the middle of the line. His primary job is to command double or even triple teams, so the rest of the line and linebackers can either go one on one with a lineman, or be free to blitz or tackle. He is the dominating force in the middle that stuffs runs, and usually does not command spectacular stats. Despite this, the NT is the most important position in a 3-4 defense. If he is not able to hold his ground against 2 or even 3 blockers, then the defense is vulnerable to inside runs. Because of the physical exertion and shock that results from constant double and triple teams, Nose Tackles must have incredible stamina and endurance. When looking for a nose tackle, teams look for the following: Physical traits: - Large girth, thick body - Low Center of Gravity (to generate a low push). - Fast hips, stout legs - Incredible Strength throughout the body - NT's can typically bench 225lbs at least 30 times - Usually, nose tackles are at most no taller than 6'4, and weigh at least 325lbs. - Very good stamina and endurance (for taking on constant double and triple teams) Technique and characteristics: - Does not get knocked off his feet very easily - Explosive push - Be very skilled in getting leverage (hand placement, low position) - being too tall will result in a less effective NT, as he cannot get low position against the center and guard. - Quick reactions and recognition of blocking schemes and plays. Current Premiere Nose Tackles: Jamal Williams of the San Diego Chargers (6'3, 348lbs) Casey Hampton of the Pittsburgh Steelers (6'1, 325lbs) New England Patriot's Vince Wilfork (6'2, 325lbs) Defensive End (DE): Today's 3-4 Defensive end has the primary job description of being a run stuffer and block eater, as well as being an adequate blitzer. Usually, the DE who plays on the weak side of the line (side with no TE) is a better blitzer, and the DE who plays on the strong side is a better run stuffer. This is because teams tend to run towards the strong side. However, because of today's formation shifts and advanced offense, DE's need to be good at both jobs. A 3-4 DE usually weighs from 290-310lbs. Any lighter and he will not hold up against running plays, and any faster he will be too slow in the passing game as well as outside runs. Usually, when looking for a DE, teams will look at 4-3 DT/DE tweeners - DT's who excel in pass rushing, or at 4-3 DE's who are large and specialize in run stopping. In some 3-4 defenses, such as that of the New England Patriots, the DE plays a 2-gap responsibility. He is responsible for the gap on both sides of the lineman he is matched against. When this is the case, a 3-4 team needs to find a DE who can quickly diagnose plays and stop the run on either side. In other 3-4's, such as that of the San Diego Chargers, the DE plays only a 1 gap responsibility, meaning he is only responsible for what comes through his assigned gap. In this case, a DE who might be more nimble and able at pass rushing than his 2-gap DE counterpart is desired. Outside Linebackers (OLB): Many of today's 3-4 Outside Linebackers were premiere pass rushing Defensive Ends in a 4-3 system. Shawne Merriman and Demarcus Ware, for example, both played DE in college. The main focus of the OLB is pass rushing - he is the playmaker, the sacker. However, the OLB will also drop back into coverage and play the run, especially outside runs. Drafting a 3-4 OLB: Teams will look for 4-3 defensive ends who are very quick, and have shown abilities in coverage. Teams will also look for 4-3 OLB who tend to be larger than typical 4-3 OLB, and who have better pass rushing skills. Characteristics and traits: 3-4 OLB have long arms, to keep blockers away while rushing. Many 3-4 OLB have elite burst and acceleration A 3-4 OLB will typically weigh 240-275lbs. Their height can be anything, although a standard 3-4 OLB will typically be in the 6'2 to 6'6 range Inside Linebackers (ILB): In a 3-4 system, the SILB (strongside inside linebacker) and WILB (weakside inside linebacker) typically have slightly differing roles. The primary concern of the SILB is to shed blocks and stop the run on the inside, whereas the WILB is a pass covering MLB who is also decent at run stuffing. Both need to be able to get to the outside when an outside run is featured. The SILB does not need elite speed - instead, he needs to be able to handle interior offensive lineman, shed blocks, and get to the runner. The SILB also blitzes sometimes to create pressure up the middle. The WILB is generally a smaller, faster version of the SILB who has skills in pass coverage. Often times, he is one on one with a tight end, or drops back into zone coverage around the middle. He is also however decent at scraping blocks and stopping the run when needed. WILB need good hips and reaction in order to cover well. Drafting interior linebackers for a 3-4 generally does not differ too much from drafting a 4-3 linebacker. A typical ILB will weigh in the 240-260lb range. Teams will look for MLB in a 4-3 who have certain characteristics of either a SILB or WILB. In addition, ILB who very physical are important, especially for the SILB, as most of the time they are matched up against lineman. A look at our team shows that we have only one traditional DE for the 3-4 on our current roster...and that is Thomas...not exactly a top notch guy. R.Smith fit the role...but he was more of a run stuffer than a blitzing DE. C.Williams has the pass rush ability, but due to this being a new system to him....and his shoulder injury he sustained in training camp...he has been totally ineffective. Thus, the problem for our entire defense. The more I look at our team...the more I think we need to look at a DE as a viable first round pick, along with the SILB and an OLB. R.Smith will be 32 next year. So we need to be getting his replacement NOW! Bell may still be a decent SILB, but we haven't seen him in there yet. If he is decent, we can pass on this position. We do, however, need a guy opposite Wimbley to put pressure on the QB. After reading this...I am even MORE convinced that Curry is the guy we need to go after if he is still on the board. He has the ability to play any of the LB positions in a 3-4....so if Bell works out he can go OLB. If Bell doesn't...he can go SILB. If he is gone I think we need to look at Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU Tyson Jackson DL 6'5 291 LSU By: Robert Davis Jackson showed flashes of what was to come as a freshman, when he had 13 tackles, two for loss, and two sacks in reserve action. As a sophomore, he earned all SEC honors when he finished the season with 37 tackles, ten for loss, 8.5 sacks, and an interception. Bigger things were expected as a junior, and while he still had a fine season, the stats didn’t show it. He finished the season with 36 tackles, 4.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks on the year. Strengths Jackson brings a lot of versatility to the defensive line. He has the size and all around skill to impact the game in a lot of ways. He has an impressive set of tools, starting with excellent size for a defensive end. He is also a good athlete and can provide pressure on the quarterback on the edge. What sets him apart as an end though, is his run stopping ability. This may make him an ideal fit for a 3-4 defense, because he is stout at the point of attack and can really clog running lanes. Jackson could play end in a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment, but may also be able to shift inside in a 4-3. That type of versatility is going to ensure Jackson gets a lot of attention as the draft approaches, because he can fit any team that has a hole along the defensive line. Weaknesses For a traditional defense end, Jackson may lack the explosive athleticism and quickness to be a consistent threat off the edge. His pass rush ability at the college level has a lot to do with his natural strength and ability to control the lineman, then use his athleticism to get into the backfield. In the NFL, he will not have such a physical advantage and will have to learn new ways to apply pressure. Future For a team in need of a 3-4 end, Jackson may be the ideal fit. He is a standout at holding his ground, taking on blocks and stopping the run. He could bring above average penetration skills for a 3-4 end also. He can also fill holes in the 4-3, but fills a more specific role in that defense. If Jackson can become more of a playmaker, like he was as a sophomore, the sky really is the limit. He has the type of game that could get him taken in the first half of the first round if he puts it all together this year. This may be even a bigger need than the LB position. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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