Jaguars MythBusting: Alualu and Smith as 3-4 Ends

Picture via TheJaxBoz

In this new series, Jaguars MythBusting, I will be taking common beliefs about the Jaguars and putting them to the test. After looking at the stats, then maybe we'll be able to come to a verdict as to whether or not the beliefs hold true. 

In the post-draft mayhem that came with the Jaguars unexpectedly taking Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick, many labeled the pick as a reach. The chief reasons being that Alualu could've been had later in the draft and that he projected better into a 3-4 defense. Here are just a couple of comments from scouting reports about Alualu that came out in the weeks prior to the draft:

"Rare 3-4 DE who can make the transition to the position in the pros." - CDSDraft

"His best fit may come as defensive end in a 3-4 scheme where he has the technician type approach and is also very difficult for one blocker to keep at bay." - MockingTheDraft

So what exactly is the size of an ideal 3-4 DE and how does that compare to a 3 technique DT in a 4-3?

My strategy for finding that size was to take the starting 3-4 DEs in the NFL and use their sizes as reference points for comparison. According to ProFootballFocus there's 17 players that saw 50 percent of the team's snaps on defense at the 3-4 DE position. However, among these 17 players are some that simply don't fit well into a 3-4 defense and are forced into it via circumstance, for example, Glenn Dorsey of the Kansas City Chiefs. So a better medium to judge the position is to take those who have been successful so as to weed out those who don't belong. Any player that had a negative overall score according to ProFootballFocus's ratings was dropped from the list leaving us with eight players:

3-4 DEs
Player
Height Weight
Justin Smith 6'4 285
Randy Starks 6'3 305
Vonnie Holliday 6'5 285
Calais Campbell 6'8 290
Robaire Smith 6'4 310
Kendall Langford 6'6 295
Cullen Jenkins 6'2 305
Igor Olshansky 6'6 315
AVERAGE 6'5 299

 

These players appear to be of a taller build while still maintaining bulk. Of the eight players, only two stand under 6'4: the 6'3 Randy Starks and the 6'2 Cullen Jenkins. For comparison's sake we'll take a look at the top run stopping and pass rushing DTs in 4-3 defenses as determined by ProFootballFocus's grading:

4-3 DT Run Stoppers
Player
Height Weight
Pat Williams 6'3 317
Brodrick Bunkley 6'2 306
Colin Cole 6'1 330
Terrance Knighton 6'3 321
Albert Haynesworth 6'6 350
Kevin Williams 6'5 311
Brandon Mebane 6'1 301
Clifton Ryan 6'3 324
Kyle Williams 6'1 306
Anthony Adams 6'0 310
Grady Jackson 6'2 345
Mike Patterson 6'1 300
AVERAGE 6'2 318
4-3 DT Pass Rushers
Player
Height Weight
Tony Brown 6'3 290
Kevin Williams 6'5 311
Albert Haynesworth 6'6 350
Jonathan Babineaux 6'2 296
Eric Foster 6'2 265
Fred Robbins 6'4 317
Tommy Kelly 6'6 300
Damione Lewis 6'2 301
Kyle Williams 6'1 306
Marcus Stroud 6'6 310
Gerard Warren 6'4 325
AVERAGE 6'4 306

 

So now the task is to figure out where the 6'2, 295 pound Tyson Alualu and the 6'2, 304 pound D'Anthony Smith fit in. Both are shorter than what would be desired from the ideal 3-4 defensive end; however, Alualu is also lighter than the average 4-3 DT. 

Final Verdict:

In the event that the Jaguars switched to a 3-4, could Alualu and Smith make the transition to defensive end? The charts tell us that yes, they probably could. However, the argument that they would fit better in that system is questionable at best. 

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