As you've now opened this article, prepared to roll your eyes at the thought of rehashing this conversation, remind yourself that you're completely over saturated with mock drafts and at least it's not another article about he who shall not be named. With the draft only a few weeks away, we can anticipate drafting a player best suited to play 4-3 Right Defensive End, but what happens if we grab a scheme tweener like Upshaw or Ingram? What if Gene Smith just can't pass on Keluchy? That's why I present you with, once again, the annual 3-4 vs 4-3 offseason debate.
To be fair, I will present pros and cons for each scheme based on the common dialogue dropped on either side of the argument, and examples of what could happen with our roster in "what-if" scenarios if we draft certain players.
One more thing before the jump, take a deep breath and remind yourself that in less than a month, we will have more to talk about than silly "what-ifs" about our roster and it's identity.
First let's look at the most obvious, the cons of switching to the 3-4:
- We were a top 6 defense last year, why change?
This is true. It would only make sense to change if we have the right players.
-Paul Posluszny signed with us to play 4-3
Also true. As important as Poz is to us, I could see the Jaguars trying to honor this commitment. If it was the right situation, however, I don't think any intelligent player would be opposed to compromise. Lets consider that we play a large amount of nickel, which isn't exactly the definition of 4-3, and Poz hasn't appeared to have had a problem with that. This tells me that it's not the exact scheme he's interested in, but his personal responsibilities on the field, which makes sense if you think about it. Is it possible that with the right personnel, Poz could perform the same duties in a 3-4 scheme? If so, I think he has no issue with a switch.
- We don't have the personnel
So, heading into the draft, there's no big con, but rather a couple small ones. Alternatively, there is only one con for sticking it out with the 4-3, but it's a pretty big one if you ask me:
- Elite RDE's in a 4-3 are the rarest player in football.
I have no stats to back this up offhand, but if you think about it, you may be inclined to agree; throw in the fact that their elite playability window is about the size of a running back's (in most cases) and it makes the rare even more precious, and harder to acquire. Blitzes are sexy, but without a premier RDE, 4-3 teams are at a disadvantage to 3-4 teams, as pass rushing OLBs are easier to find, fit more body molds/talents and allow better drafting flexibility.
Advantages to keeping the 4-3 however, are also very big reasons to want to keep the in spite of the difficulty finding an elite RDE;
- No changes to the playbook/positions
Though I don't think the change would be too complex, assuming we continue to play nickel.
- If we found that elite RDE, our Defense could legitimately be among the best in the league.
Very true. I honestly prefer the idea of having an elite 4-3 defense to an elite 3-4 defense.
On the other hand, we have the pros for making the switch to the 3-4, based on who we draft, and interestingly enough, like with the cons, we have many reasons but nothing that really seals the deal.
- Pass rushing OLBs are MUCH easier to find.
- We already use hybrid packages
- Mel Tucker is a 3-4 guy
After last year, I would say he's a 3-4 or 4-3 guy, but it's true that he favors 3-4 defenses. Also, he may not have Jack imposing the base scheme anymore, if he ever did.
-We already have more personnel than you think.
Alualu and D'Anthony Smith (if he gets better) can play RDE in a 3-4. Mincey is a perfect LDE in a 3-4, and Lane should do a decent job there, too. Knighton has the perfect size and skill set to play Nose Tackle; Mosley also has the size and skill set to play NT, though I don't know if he has any experience there.
Smith can play anywhere we ask, Poz can continue to do his thing and guys like Aaron Morgan or John Chick (if he comes back healthy) could really thrive and be productive as pass rushers in a 3-4. Using Session the way we did last year, he could fit nicely into a coverage/blitzing role on the inside or outside. Add in Russell Allen, a guy who could play anywhere, and it becomes clear that we are one position short of an elite defense: a pass rusher. The difference, is it would be much easier to find that pass rusher.
Scenario 1: Draft DE high. Be it in the first or second round, there are plenty of DE's with potential, but none of them really seem to scream ELITE RDE. Coples, who may be the safest end in the draft, appears to be a fantastic LDE prospect. Guys like Perry and Cam Johnson could be very good RDEs, but both will probably need some time as neither looks ready to step on and start racking up sacks. Here's a model of a depth chart based on the guys we already have:
Rookie, Morgan or Mincey, Morgan
Mincey, Lane or Lane, Rookie
Scenario 2: Draft 3-4 OLB
Between Upshaw, Ingram, Irving, etc., there are plenty of candidates to play this position better than we can expect a rookie to play the RDE position. here's what the depth chart might look like:
Alualu, D'Ant Smith*
Rookie, Morgan, Chick*
Scenario 3: Draft Keluchy
If Keluchy is drafted, I don't see any scenario other than making the switch. It would be the only way to use all of that talent. Here's what that might sound like:
Alualu, D'Ant Smith*
Session, Morgan, Chick*
As you can see, Session's role becomes hard to define as a situation player and we'll probably look to add another OLB later in the draft/FA/UDFA. I don't think this is the most appealing scenario, but it's the only one that would make any sense if Keluchy is the pick.
So what is it BCC? What should the Jaguars do?