The Jacksonville Jaguars will be rebuilding their defense under head coach Gus Bradley and we've focused a lot on the defensive line and the LEO position, but another position that is important in the scheme Bradley ran in Seattle is the linebacker position, as there are some things that they stressed at the position.
"I think it's a unique combination that we're looking for," he said. "In the 3-4, the linebackers are big, physical type guys; the guards are going to come right at them and they have got to be stout enough to take on the guard. Then, the 4-3, you want speed. The Lance Briggses, the Derrick Brookses, the guys that can really move well, lateral movement, and those guys are always protected. Well, we do both. Instead of maybe the 260 pound linebackers, or the 225 pound guys, we like that guy that's 240 and can run a high 4.4. So, we're getting that hybrid that can do both. That's what we're really trying to be looking for. But, we try not to put them in too many positions where they're taking on the guard, so we're probably leaning more towards the 4-3 principles."
So in essence, Bradley is looking for.... hybrids to run his hybrid scheme. Now, for me the easiest way to describe what he's looking for in the defense is to have two Daryl Smith's on the defense, playing both MIKE and WILL linebacker. I use Smith as the example, because he's versatile and can play all of the linebacker positions. Often times when out of their base defense, Seattle would simply just play left and right linebacker, so your two 3-down linebackers will need to be able to both do a lot of the same things.
Here are some players in the 2013 NFL Draft, just in a measurable sense, that could fit that mold:
- Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
- Sio Moore, UConn
- DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina
- Kevin Minter, LSU
- Keith Pough, Howard
- Jelani Jenkins, Florida
Field Gulls then goes on to explain why Bradley likely looks for this in his linebackers under their current scheme:
With the way the Seahawks' defensive line is set up in base personnel, using three 310+ pounders in Red Bryant, Alan Branch, and Brandon Mebane to plug up the middle and strongside of the field, soak up blocks, and stop the run, teams are going to try and bounce things out to the perimeter or utilize their speed to otherwise counter the Seahawks' advantage in the middle.
So in essence, you want your bigger, faster linebackers free to flow to the football and pick up the tackles as teams try to run to the open side of the defensive line. Danny Kelly of Field Gulls has also indicated that both Carroll and Bradley look for long arms and big hands in their linebackers, as they feel overall length is an important factor.
As it stands right now, the Jaguars should be alright for the time being with Russell Allen and Paul Posluszny, but I would think that general manager David Caldwell will look to snap up at least one of these types of linebackers to begin building for the future of the defense.