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CBA and Drafting 3-4 Linebackers

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by fester, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. fester

    fester Rookie

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    Over at my blog, Fester's Place, (link here:http://tinyurl.com/t3a2c ) I am looking at the Patriots and Steeler's future linebacker needs. Both teams need at least one more high quality linebacker, and the free agent market does not look like it is swimming with a large number of starter quality 3-4 backers. Therefore the draft is the most likely place for a significant number of starters to be found.

    The ideal 3-4 passrushing linebacker is not a collegiate linebacker. The overwhelming majority of collegiate linebackers are too small to fulfill the run responsibilities of a 3-4 linebacker, and the few that are big enough are usually playing in the middle where they tend to be too slow to be effective edge rushers. The few who are big enough and fast enough to both set the edge and speed rush against elite left tackles tend to get drafted in the first ten picks as these guys are atheletic freaks. Instead the ideal 3-4 passrushing linebacker is an undersized defensive end who is used to setting the edge against the run already, and has the demonstrated quickness to beat good tackles.

    The more experienced 3-4 teams, especially the Steelers, had been able to leverage their unusual scheme into higher draft values. They targeted players that they considered elite passrushing prospects that the vast majority of the league did not consider elite. Therefore they were able to grab very good players for them much later in the draft than if the Steelers were a 4-3 team. This advantage is dissipating as the 3-4 has dispersed throughout the league with at least ten teams playing some form of the defense. Today, the tweener DE/OLB prospect with the same exact relative draft grade can expect to be drafted signficantly higher than a comparative prospect from five years ago as more teams are looking for that skill set today than before. I think that there might also be another factor which could push tweeners higher up the draft board.

    The CBA places limits on the duration of rookie contracts, [6 years max for picks #1-16, 5 years max for picks #17-32, 4 years max, everyone else]. Conversion projects take time. I wonder if we will be seeing a reshuffling of the draft to overemphasize positions with longer and shallower learning curves near the two inflection points of contract length. Should we expect to see more 3-4 OLBs, quarterbacks and wide receivers drafted between picks 13-16, and 27-32 than we otherwise would expect and then a dearth of these long learning curve positions until late in the second round or early in the third round?
  2. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The point is interesting but there's ample evidence of college DE converting quickly to 3-4 LB. Merriman, Ware and Wimbley come to mind from the past 3 drafts.

    It's a good thing Maoney looks good or I'd still be upset be passed on Manny Lawson this year.
  3. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Rookie

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    There are athletes who convert to pass rushing end/LB and are good enough to do that pass rushing almost exclusively, while they learn to be a complete 3-4 LB over a few years. Ware and Merriman are good examples.

    But the main point that there are lots of teams looking for 3-4 Lbs and its getting harder to draft that talent as cheaply as when only a few teams played 3-4.

    You can make the same observation about other 3-4 players as well, whose profile is specialized, like 3-4 DEs and NTs, too. They are harder to find, later in the draft. So ?:eek:
  4. RayClay

    RayClay On the Roster

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    I would say that is our dilemma. Seems to me we need to draft and train these players since they no longer come cheap.

    By the way, there is a myth that we have drafted low DEs and converted them as our starters.

    It's never actually happened in this century and Banta Cain will be our 1st if he's successful.

    Have the Steelers managed to convert low DE picks into starters?

    Mike Vrabel was acquired by us as a Steelers back up, but he was still a 3rd round pick.
  5. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Rookie

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    And so was Tedy Bruschi; and he was drafted by the Parcells, Belichick staff, but it still took four years to convert him to a full time starting LB. Belichick converted Vrabel after three years under Cower, as a pass rush DE specialist, in side of a year.

    Chatham was an UDFA, but he started for most of the year when Colvin first got hurt and played adequately. His ceiling was lower, than BB wanted; he left for the Jets under EM, seeking a chance to start once again. He might be sharing snaps with TBC now, if he had stayed in NE.

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