The 3-4…What & Why

Posted: January 31st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 74 Comments »

Let’s talk some more about the 3-4 defense.  We’ll go back to basics to make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what we’re talking about.  The 3-4 is 3 defensive linemen and 4 LBs.


Am I an artist or what?  Picasso and Van Gogh are hacks.  I’d like to see de Kooning try and make that into a woman.  Enough about my artistry…

Before going any further, we need to talk about responsibilities.  You can run different kinds of 3-4 just like the 4-3.  You can use smaller, faster players and go with a 1-gap system.  You can go with bigger players and run a 2-gap system.  Wade Phillips loves the 1-gap attack.  Bill Belichick is a guy who would prefer to 2-gap.  My guess is that Chip Kelly would prefer to have more athletic guys and play a 1-gap style.  That’s strictly a guess.

Let’s talk about each position.

OLB – This player is called a linebacker, but essentially he is a pass rusher.  Think of James Harrison, DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews, and in the old days…Lawrence Taylor.  The Patriots prefer tall guys while the Steelers like short OLBs.  If you believe a recent report, Kelly will prefer taller OLBs.  6-3 and above would qualify as tall for this spot with 6-5 probably being ideal.

DE – The end in a 3-4 plays what is called the 5-technique.  His job is to be equally good as a run defender and pass rusher.  JJ Watt is the best 3-4 DE in the league.  He was a high pick.  The Steelers have had success developing mid and late round picks to be DEs.  Some teams that like big players are moving big guys to this spot.  Haloti Ngata lined up at DE most of the last 2 years.  Red Bryant is a massive DE for Seattle.  My guess with Kelly is that he’ll look for guys in the 6-4, 300 range.

NT – 10 years ago this player had to be 330 pounds and strong as an ox.  Now we see Jay Ratliff (295 or so) and Shaun Cody (300 or so) as effective NTs.  There are still big NTs.  Terrence Cody is a big man.  Casey Hampton too.  My guess is that Kelly will go smaller here, but not small.  He might like a NT that is 6-3, 315.  That size player can still get upfield, but is also able to anchor against double teams.

ILB – You are basically looking for a pair of MLBs.  You would like the players to be able to rush the passer since blitzing is a big part of the 3-4.  The ILBs must be able to deal with blockers if playing in a 1-gap system.  You need at least one to be good in coverage.  Speed isn’t as critical since there is less ground to cover.

I will put together a depth chart for the Eagles based on current personnel.

DE Fletcher Cox ……. Ronnie Cameron
NT Mike Patterson … Antonio Dixon
DE Cullen Jenkins …. Cedric Thornton

OLB Trent Cole …………….Vinny Curry
ILB Mychael Kendricks … Jamar Chaney ….. Marcus Dowtin
ILB DeMeco Ryans ……… Casey Matthews … Ryan Rau
OLB Brandon Graham …. Phillip Hunt ………. Everette Brown

Cox, Jenkins, and Thornton are all natural 3-4 DEs.  They should do just fine.

NT is a complete mystery.  Dixon hasn’t played a full season since 2010 so you can’t count on him.  Patt is very hard to figure out due to his medical situation.  This is the one spot the Eagles would have to bring in a starting caliber player.

OLB is a partial mystery.  Plenty of people thought Graham was suited for the 3-4 before the draft.  I think he’s still a good pass rusher, but I do question how effective he can be on those plays when he is asked to drop back in coverage.  Cole doesn’t have the overall athleticism you’d like, but he’s strong, tough, and smart.  He knows how to rush the passer.  He has a great motor and I think can be okay as a short term 3-4 OLB.  Curry I think can play in the 3-4.  I actually want to save him for a separate post.  Hunt can, but one of the reasons he chose the Eagles is that he wanted to play in a 4-3.  Also, he’s small and if Kelly wants big players, that doesn’t bode well for him.

ILB would be fine with Kendricks and Ryans.  Mychael lacks ideal height, but has the skill set to be a very good ILB.  Ryans is best suited for 4-3 MLB, but can play in the 3-4.  He’s an older player and you’d want to find a young player to develop behind him no matter what.

Could there be some changes?  It is possible that Cole and Curry could bulk up to the 275 pound range and play RDE.  Bruce Smith was a 3-4 DE in the 270s.  It can be done.  I do not like Cox at NT.  He’s better with some space to work with.  That said, could the coaches look at him as a better version of Jay Ratliff and want him there.  Possible I guess.  I do think Thornton would be most natural at DE, where he played in college.

One huge thing to keep in mind is that the 3-4 is a base defense.  The Nickel alignment would still be the 4-2-5.  The Dime would be 4-1-6.  Because teams are so exotic on offense these days, the base defense is only played about half the time.  That means that almost half the snaps would involve a 4-2-5 look.

Trent Cole would still be right at home in the Nickel.  Cox would slide inside to DT, just like JJ Watt does for the Texans.  Curry and Graham could be DE or DT.  Hunt could be the LDE.  The point is that you’d have plenty of snaps in a 4-man line to work guys into roles that they are suited for.

* * * * *

Why go 3-4?

Todd Grantham gave a good explanation:

Grantham figured out he was a 3-4 guy during a stint with the Indianapolis Colts from 1999-2001. At the time, Peyton Manning was maturing into one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. In practice every week, Grantham watched Manning diagnose and pick apart even-front defenses. As soon as the defenders lined up, Manning recognized the coverage and could spot any weaknesses.

That wasn’t the case in 2000 when the Colts faced the New England Patriots and first-year coach Bill Belichick. “When [Manning] went against an even front, he knew the coverage and what you were doing based on the alignment on the front,” Grantham said. “But when he went against the New England Patriots and everything was balanced, he had a much tougher time. You could mentally and physically see the stress during practice of where the fourth rusher was coming from.”

Simply put, the 3-4 makes you less predictable.  You have 7 potential pass rushers on each snap (not counting DBs).  In the 4-3, the rushers are mostly going to be the DL.  LBs will blitz on occasion.  LBs blitz in the 3-4 on a regular basis.  That’s why it is important that all members of the front seven be good pass rushers.

The 3-4 is no magic bullet.  You need good players and a good coach.  Just switching the scheme means nothing.  The Skins were 28th and Dallas 19th this year, both as 3-4 teams.  The Giants were 31st and the Eagles 15th as 4-3 teams.  By the way…did anyone really think the Eagles gave up the fewest yards in the division?

My guess is that Kelly likes the unpredictability of the 3-4.  He probably also likes the fact it gives you the freedom to better adjust to your personnel.  Kelly likes systems that allow him to adjust to his players.

* * * * *

I wrote up some thoughts on Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones.  More than a few fans have asked about him as a target at #4.  I think that would be a bit early for him.

I also included some good Youtube videos to watch.  Take a look for yourself and see what you think of Mr Jones in action.


  • T_S_O_P

    Well Picasso, I wonder if you could pen the freak that is Belichik’s hybrid half and half 3-4/4-3 defense?

    • Hah! That’s what I’m talking about. 😉

    • TommyLawlor

      Chris Brown wrote about that for Grantland last January.

      • austinfan

        Looking at the article (scroll down for a link), you need a guy like Wilfork, not just a two gap NT, but one athletic enough to be disruptive if you don’t give the C help.
        There are a few of these guys in this draft, in fact, this is probably the deepest NT draft I can remember, NTs and safeties, hmmm, what team has needs at those spots?
        Another reason to trade out of #4 if possible.

        • TommyLawlor

          Feels more and more like trading back is the way to go.

          • xeynon

            To trade back and really pick up a haul, we’d need a partner who desperately wants a top 5 player and doesn’t have a top 5 pick. Who would be that player, and what team might want him? The fact that it’s a lousy year for QBs seems to me to mean it will be harder to get a really good deal when trading down.

          • deg0ey

            The most likely option for me is the Bucs. They’re desperate for help at CB. Best CB in the draft likely goes to the Lions at 5 as it stands, so Tampa would need to get up to 4 if they want him.

          • A_T_G

            It is not a promising as last year in terms of trade down potential. On the other hand, I’d be happy taking a deal like Atlanta put together to draft Julio Jones.

  • I read a post on one of the football strategy blogs (it might have been Smart Football, I haven’t been able to find it again) that discussed how New England was running a base two-gap 3-4, but using over/under looks to actually play differently on each side of the formation. So they’d have a 3-4 two-gap look and assignments on the strong side, and a 4-3 one-gap look and assignments on the weak side. Or vice versa. Or one-gap the 3-4 side and two-gap the 4-3 side. It was crazy. Imagine trying to find your blocking assignments on the OL, especially for man-blocking teams.

    Now not every 3-4 works like that, and Bellicheck stocks up on smart veterans that allow NE to run the most flexible D possible. But it’s a pretty good example of how the 3-4 can be a lot more confusing than the 4-3.


    Actually, I just found the article, it’s by Chris Brown but for Grantland.

    Check out the 4-3 over combo diagram and text.

    • holeplug

      Brown’s article yesterday about the 49ers pattern match coverage zone concepts was a great read. If Ed Donatell ends up being the defensive coordinator I’d imagine we’d being seeing similar principals next year.

      • Thanks for that link! Brown’s written about pattern match defenses before, but I didn’t catch this story yesterday.

        I love the way Brown writes and to some extent mythologizes football schemes and history. It’s an approach that should catch on more.

        • D3FB

          Some of his write ups on Holgerson at WVU and how some of the things that offense does are staggering. I’m talking about a zone read in the backfield that if the QB keeps it he has a bubble screen set up to the right of the formation and a combination route backside. His breakdowns are extremely well done.

          • And the zone read with the stick pass. I’m really excited if that kind of play can be brought to the NFL, because if you can give the D a true run read and then throw over them, I think that’s going to be very disruptive.

            Having said that, college linemen are allowed to go a yard downfield on pass plays, and NFL are not. That might limit the effectiveness of true run-pass read option plays.

      • eagles2zc
    • Baloophi

      Great link, though my brain hurts now…

      • T_S_O_P

        Glad it is not just mine.

        • Bellicheck’s defenses are something else. That’s how Cthulhu would draw up football schemes.

          • D3Keith

            I had to Google that one. Nice.

  • austinfan

    DE Fletcher Cox ……. Ronnie Cameron

    I think Cameron might be a good prospect as a backup DE, he’s got decent size, good short area athleticism

    NT Mike Patterson … Antonio Dixon

    Patterson is a bad fit, he’s not strong enough to anchor or quick enough for the Ratliff role, and he’s short, not going to be able to disrupt those quick passes over the middle when he can’t get penetration.

    Dixon has the size, and played well in 2010 in more of a two gap system, was he the NT in that 4-3?

    DE Cullen Jenkins …. Cedric Thornton

    I’d play Thornton on run downs and rotate Jenkins in on pass downs. Thornton is improving as a run stopper but hasn’t develop pass rush skills yet. Jenkins probably isn’t good for more than 400 snaps at this point in his career.

    OLB Trent Cole …………….Vinny Curry

    I would start Curry if I can’t find anyone better. Cole lacks the ability to play in space (and hates it), so I’d limit him to pass rush reps in the nickel and dime.

    ILB Mychael Kendricks … Jamar Chaney ….. Marcus Dowtin

    Here’s a problem with a one gap 3-4, smaller DL taking a gap means the OGs get out on the ILBs more often on running plays, so you probably want bigger ILBs, at least one that can take on an OG and free the more athletic ILB.

    ILB DeMeco Ryans ……… Casey Matthews … Ryan Rau

    OLB Brandon Graham …. Phillip Hunt ………. Everette Brown

    Question is how much lateral movement did Graham lose due to his injury, he’s more of a bull rusher than speed rusher these days. I think Hunt and Brown have both flopped in auditions as 3-4 OLBs.

    Available free agents:
    3-4 DE –
    Michael Bennett
    Desmond Bryant
    Glenn Dorsey
    Sammie Hill
    Terrance Knighton
    Victor Butler
    Trevor Scott
    Antwan Barnes
    Connor Barwin
    (I don’t think Spencer or Kruger will be available, or worth the money they’ll get coming off peak years).

  • bdbd20

    Best D in the division, wow.

    • eagles2zc

      Just goes to show how putrid Eagles O were last season

    • D3Keith

      hard to believe since they mailed it in most of the last 10 games.

  • Iskar36

    How often are the OLB staying back in coverage? I understand they are more pass rushers than they are LBs in the 4-3 sense, but I get the sense they don’t rush the passer as often as a DE in the 4-3 would. Is this one of the weaknesses of a 3-4 defense? Seems like finding a great OLB is difficult because you would want them to be able to be a great pass rusher, but also not be completely lost or outmatched when they are out in coverage.

    Also, what are the differences between the RDE and LDE/ROLB and LOLB/RILB and LILB? Are they largely interchangeable parts in the 3-4 or is it similar to the 4-3 with SAM/WIL and RDE/LDE?

    • TommyLawlor

      Someone posted the stats a while back. DeMarcus Ware rushed the passer more than 90% of the time or something like that. Most 3-4 OLBs really are pass rushers that only occasionally drop back into coverage.

      Most of the R/L stuff is same in the 3-4 as 4-3. Bigger players generally move to to the left since there is where most teams line up their TE and it is the strong side of the formation.

      It is possible that the OLBs could line up strongside vs weakside. I’m not an expert on the 3-4. This is somewhat new to me. I do know that many teams move their OLBs around. Not sure that happens with ILBs.

      • Iskar36

        So both OLBs would rush 90% of the time? That seems incredibly high to me. In other words, the vast majority of the time, you are sending 5 rushers at the QB? Seems that translates to fewer people regularly in coverage than in a 4-3 defense. Gives you an advantage on pass rushes, but an obvious disadvantage if everyone gets blocked.

        • TommyLawlor

          Both OLBs don’t rush the same 90% of the snaps. Also, the DL don’t always rush. The DEs drop into zone coverage on plays when they aren’t rushing.

          You’ll have 5 rushers a lot, but not 90% of the time.

          • Iskar36

            I definitely understand that there will be mixing it up and variations on who/when you blitz and when you don’t, but I guess that was my point about if there is a difference between the two OLBs. Basically, is one of the two OLBs more of a rushing LBer than the other? Or asked a different way, is the standard to rush 4 players or with all things equal, are you regularly rushing 5 players more often in the 3-4 than you would in the 4-3?

            (Sorry for all the questions on the same thing, but I’m just curious in trying to understand the 3-4 better.)

          • TommyLawlor

            I don’t know how PIT does it, with both OLBs being such good pass rushers. A team like Dallas will keep Ware after the QB as much as possible.

            We’ll all be doing some 3-4 studying, assuming this is in fact the scheme we move to.

      • austinfan

        Generally, the SOLB is in coverage more than the WOLB.
        Since most 3-4 teams send four as their base pass rush, usually one OLB drops into coverage (yes, you can drop a DE into zone, but we’re talking 290 lb guys, few have that kind of athleticism).

        But teams do it differently.

        Seattle has a variation on the Elephant (Charles Haley), with 3 two gap DL and Clemons split wide, and a conventional 4-3 SLB.

        You can get by with smaller DEs in a one gap 3-4, Justin Smith is only about 275 lbs, but you need a heck of an athlete.

        • Iskar36

          This seems to be what I would have expected. I would think that on a “standard” – nonblitzing play, you would send 4 rushers, the RDE, NT, LDE, and one of the two OLBs (I guess the one on the weakside would make most sense so that coverage wouldn’t have to shift in order to account for the TE). To me though, that basically translates to one of the two OLBs being more of a pass rushing player. The other OLB is still going to blitz, but he would do it with a lot less regularity and would more often be in coverage. Obviously, there would be regular changes and variations to that, but unless both OLBs are rushing with regularity, I would think one would be more of a coverage player while the other would be more of a pass rusher.

  • Sean

    General 3-4 question: When 3-4 teams go to a nickel, do they use a 3-3 front?

    • TommyLawlor

      No. 4-2-5.

      There are some teams that use a 3-3-5 look at times, but it isn’t standard. Jim Johnson used the 3-3-5 when he ran the Eagles D.

      • Anders

        I think the Cardinals under Horton used the 2-4-5 look alot.

      • goeagles55

        4-2-5 isn’t the standard nickel for 3-4 teams anymore.

        Here’s what 3-4 teams ran in 2011 as their nickel package:
        Arizona: 2-4-5
        Dallas: 2-4-5 (occasional 3-3-5)
        Green Bay: 2-4-5
        Houston: Rarely ran nickel. Stuck with base or went Dime
        Kansas City: 2-4-5
        Miami: 2-4-5 and 3-3-5 equally
        Jets: 3-3-5 (occasional 2-4-5)
        Pittsburgh: 2-4-5
        Chargers: 2-4-5 (occasional 3-3-5)
        49ers: 2-4-5
        Redskins: 2-4-5

        This, according to

        If you go 3-4, you focus on getting a good NT and OLBs. A 2-4-5 can keep them on the field.

        • D3FB

          2-4 and 4-2 are the same defense for all intents and purposes. You have the same alignments and assignments. Two large interior linemen flanked by your two best pass rushers. Tommy is simply saying that in the short term since we have 4-3 DEs that may not all perfectly slide to OLB they still have some value in nickel situations.

          • austinfan

            Not really.

            Because in the 2-4 only two guys have their hand in the ground, you can line up 2 big guys over the guards, making it harder to run the draw, or have them play one gap.

            Meanwhile, with 4 LBs standing up, you see a lot more stunting, which creates problems for blocking assignments, it’s just harder to stunt if you start with your hand in the ground, but with LBs standing, they can move around pre-snap, and disguise which gap they’re planning to attack, and which LBs are actually coming and who will be dropping into coverage.

            However, to make this work I think you’d want more athletic OLBs who are almost interchangeable with your ILBs.

  • Tommy,

    Great post as always. Could you talk a little about how you assign value to each position in this scheme? Where do you most likely spend your resources (high draft pick, FA etc?)

  • Cafone

    I’m not sure if it’s come up already, but here’s something I’ve been wondering about: Have the Eagles ever run a 3-4? If so, when? I don’t remember the Eagles ever running a 3-4 in my time as a fan.

    • Neil

      Vermeil years in the early 80s

    • TommyLawlor

      Neil is right. Marion Campbell was the DC and the defense was a 3-4 and very good.

  • For all those interested in 3-4 1-gap 101….here is a link for the layman

    • TommyLawlor

      Good link.

  • ian_no_2

    The main casualties of a 3-4 switch among the younger players are Graham and Curry.. you said you will talk more about Curry later. With Graham, what people haven’t mentioned is that he has changed as a player since his draft write ups due to his ACL tear. He has bulked up and become more of a bull rusher because his speed isn’t what it was before the tear, so he’s moved further into that nether world between being a OLB and a 3-4 end.

    • TommyLawlor

      Graham actually got lighter. He was in the 270 range when drafted. He was up at 287 after the injury. This year he was down to 260.

      I do agree that the ACL tear could hurt his agility and that’s why I questioned him as a 3-4 OLB.

      • austinfan

        I don’t think the problem is the ACL tear, just look at AP, a clean ACL tear is no longer a career ender.

        However, if I remember, Graham had the ACL, and micro-fracture surgery – that’s a bad, bad injury. Micro-fracture surgery doesn’t have close to the history of a clean ACL repair, and usually involves cartilage damage – which is a notorious career shortener (something to watch with RGIII).

        He didn’t show a lot of outside moves as a pass rusher, using his leverage and power more than quickness, despite being 2 years removed from his injury.

        • TommyLawlor

          He did have microfracture surgery.

  • eagles2zc

    Great read on Jones Tommy. I would be interested to see how you think Jones, Moore, and Jordan stack up against one another as 3-4 OLBs. I really like Moore as a 3-4 OLB and would not be bothered at all if Eagles picks him up with the #4, even though there are arguably more pressing needs at other positions

    • nopain23

      I’m a big fan of Moore.Tommy has said he may be a better prospect than Jones.If we switch to a 3-4 a stud OLB is a must. If Star , Moore and Jones are sthere for the taking at 4. I would take Star ’cause he’s claerly the best NT prospect in the draft while Moore and Star remain a toos up. Some pundits even like Jordan better than the other two.

  • aub32

    I am glad to know your doing a separate post on Curry; as I had several questions about him in regards to switching to a 3-4. I am also relieved to know that Nickel and Dime packages remain the same personnel grouping that we are accustomed to seeing.

    My questions are how important is it for the ILBs to possess better than average speed in a 3-4? The knock on Ryans is that he was slower in the 3-4 ran by the Texans and not as effective. This year we saw Cushing go down, and the next guy up didn’t possess his talent or speed. The defense noticeably suffered during his absence.

    Who would be responsible for covering TEs in a base 3-4 front. Given our current personnel and their assumed roles, only Kendricks has the speed to keep up with the faster TEs, but he is giving up so much of a height advantage. Is the need for speed a scheme thing, as in the smaller to bigger preference, or is it a universal need for an ILB to fit a 3-4 system.

    Finally, is it better to have a stud NT or OLB? I would love to see and know that either Cole or Graham could play that joker role and reek havoc upon opposing offenses, but I doubt that will be the case. Therefore, I imagine we will want to try to get someone that can fill that role, and it seems clear we need a starting caliber NT. I look at the impact D. Ware, A Smith, and V Miller have for their teams, and I tend to think having a stud like that has a greater impact. However, I also look at how god awful the Pats D would be without Wilfork, and we saw how much losing Ratliff hurt the Cowboys.


    • D3FB

      The TE coverage would actually probably vary from coverage to coverage. On time it could be an OLB jamming and running with him at the line, next time it could be a Safety playing man, time after that the ILB could turn and run with him. Plus you have to throw in all the zone coverage. possibilities.

      • aub32

        The sad part is I never even considered having our safety cover the TE in man lol. I kind of blocked it out after imagining all the wide open TD scenarios.

        • Anders

          Both Ryans and Allen did a good job with that against the Ravens.

  • deg0ey

    The interesting thing about Wade Phillips’s 1-gap 3-4 is that it’s very similar to a 4-3. One of his DEs will typically line up in a 6 or 7 tech, which IIRC is pretty much what Trent has done his entire career (except for the Washburn years).

    Could be an interesting way to transition without having to make him play in space, but would also mean our ILBs need to be a little better at shedding blocks ’cause they’re gonna be coming up against OL in the run game pretty frequently in that system.

    • Anders

      This also means that Curry could be a 3-4/4-3 DE hybrid.
      You could have SOLB-Curry-Dixon-Cox-WOLB with the WOLB most likely being Graham. Draft a guy like Dion Jordan (he can both cover and rush the passer) and we should be almost set.

      • deg0ey

        Sounds pretty ideal. Still not convinced I like the idea of Kendricks vs OGs on a regular basis, though. We might be better off biting the bullet and putting a big dude in the middle to take some of the heat off.

        • Zach

          Both Steelers ILBs are 230. Larry Foote probably isn’t even six feet tall.

          • wee2424

            Do Steelers play a 1 gap though? They also have Hampton in the middle which is a damn good DT. Not to mention its the Steelers who just know how to play damn good D.

          • Anders

            The Steelers play 2 gap. For them its all about having 3 fat guys taken on 5 blockers and let the LBs get the glory.

          • deg0ey

            As evidenced by the fact they drafted a NT last year that weighed in at 348lbs at the combine.

  • D-von

    Tommy, If (and this is a big IF) the eagles decided to trade Trent Cole, what do you think his value would be? Asante was traded for a 7th rounder and wasn’t coming off a down year.

    • TommyLawlor

      Trent would get more than a 7th, but not good value. Asante wanted money and is hard to coach. Trent is signed and very coachable.

    • wee2424

      5th possible 4th

  • I also think the 3-4 is much more advantageous against the read and pistol formations as it has more players out of a stance with their eyes high. Have heard and read this multiple places.

    Also, who doesn’t need a guy like Vince Wilfork?

  • wee2424

    A huge problem that we had with the wide 9 was that oline men were all over our LB’s and they were having trouble shedding the blocks. I feel as though if we play a 1 gap 3-4 we are going to have the same problem, especially if we do not find a good NT to eat up blockers.
    Ryans is one of the best LB’s we have had in ahwile but he is not great at shedding blocks. Mathews just gets swallowed up, and Kendricks has promise, but shedding blocks isnt exactly his best attribute. You can go down the list of all of our other LB’s, ILB and OLB, and none of them are good at shedding.
    We can run the most creative blitzes and have great coverage down feild, but none of that helps if teams can just ram it down our throats.
    I am highly excited to see the Eagles run and 3-4 but also scared shitless. Either way it pans out it should be interesting.

  • T_S_O_P

    Two history questions: Are the the Eagles the longest serving 4-3 team unbroken going back to 1985 (MC’s last HC season)? Number 91 Reggie White was in place when Buddy arrived, but did he ever play a down for Cambell?

    Posted elsewhere by accident

  • I like the 3-4 myself, and I wonder if the kinds of options if brings will be big assuming the league continues down the direction of more mobile QBs – that is the offenses are becoming less and less predictable, and this may require defenses to be more and more flexible in ways that the 4-3 might have trouble with.

  • I’ve looked up the last 10 #4 picks in the NFL draft, and this is what I found:

    5/10 has gone to the Pro Bowl
    8/10 has become good players
    4/10 has become ‘cornerstone’ players
    2/10 has been busts

    The players are:
    OT Matt Kalil (Very good)
    WR A.J. Green (Elite)
    OT Trent Williams (Very good)
    LB Aaron Curry (Bust)
    RB Darren McFadden (Good)
    DE Gaines Adams (Bust)
    OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (Good)
    RB Cedric Benson (OK)
    QB Philip Rivers (Very good)
    DT Dewayne Robertson (OK)

    We will have a chance to add an impact player to our franchise, the question is, who will/should it be?

    Pick #35 have produced players like:
    LB Courtney Upshaw (?)
    QB Andy Dalton (OK)
    DT Brian Price (Bust)
    LB James Laurinaitis (Good)
    CB Brandon Flowers (Good)
    OG Arron Sears (Bust)
    LB Rocky McIntosh (OK)
    WR Reggie Brown (Average)
    DE Igor Olshansky (OK)
    CB Charles Tillmann (Very good)

    That gives us a 6-7/10 to add another OK/Good starter.

    Pick #66
    CB Josh Robinson
    LB Dontay Moch
    CB Amari Spievey
    CB Bradley Fletcher
    DE Kendall Langford
    CB Usama Young
    OT Eric Winston
    S O.J. Atogwe
    C Nick Hardwick
    DT Cory Redding

    This shows that you have to hit on the early picks. You can’t count on finding Eric Winston or Nick Hardwick every year. It is of course obvious, but the chance of getting a good/impact players drops significantly each round.

  • phillyfan1987

    I understand why the Safety Position needs a definite upgrade… we have seen each backup on the field at one time or another and have seen enough to gauge potential vs skill for each…..while I agree with everyone on that what I dont necessarily agree with is the need to draft corner high….draft a corner by all means and get a guy or two via FA but im all for giving Marsh and Hughes the best opportunity to be the starter…maybe we can get a good secondary coach and coach up the position ….I see our biggest needs as S, OL, QB,DL, OLB, I say we get the best offensive linemen at #4, best saftey in second round(pick up one in FA), Project QB(FA a vet), DL(tackle or EnD), OLB (need guys who fit a 3-4 naturally) Get a corner or two in FA(just need to be able to do their job getting great or very good safety play will get everyone in best position before the play.

    • D3Keith

      I think it depends too if Chip thinks the Eagles are going to be competitive right away. If we’re going to use a whole year to see if Foles is any good, we might as well do the same with Hughes and/or Marsh, *if* we try to get corners in the draft and it doesn’t work out.

      Oddly, I’d be on board with bringing NA and DRC back, but I’d also be on board with bringing neither back and seeing what the young secondary can do. You could make arguments for either, and everything in between.

  • I don’t always buy into players needing to be a specific height /weight to play certain positions. I think athleticism and football instincts are more important.

  • I don’t think we have that all around linebacker to play the LOLB. The LOLB needs to be a good pass defender, pass rusher and run defender. I think we’ll need to get one either through the draft, a trade or FA. Paul Kruger and Conner Barwin come to mind in terms of targets.

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