Study: What Pittsburgh Looks For In Drafting Defensive Linemen

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver study I did earlier this week turned out a lot better than I anticipated. It showed a pattern and helped narrow down who the team could target, not with certainty, but with confidence.

So now I’m trying this with other positions. We’ll flip over to the defensive line today and examine the ten defensive lineman drafted under Mike Tomlin. I collected as much data as was reliably available below in basically every measure possible. Remember, I am not using Pro Day timed events (40 and shuttle drills) due to their unreliable nature. I will take the objective events from the Pro Day (vertical, broad) if they are the only numbers available or are better figures than the Combine.

2015: L.T. Walton

Height: 6’4/7
Weight: 319
Arm Length: 32 1/4
Hand Size: 10 1/4
Bench: 25
40 Time: 5.25
Vertical: 27
Broad: 8’7″
Short Shuttle: 4.78
Three Cone: 7.91

2014: Stephon Tuitt

Height: 6’5/4
Weight: 304
Arm Length: 34 3/4
Hand Size: 10
Bench: 31

Daniel McCullers

Height: 6’6/6
Weight: 352
Arm Length: 36 5/8
Hand Size: 11
Bench: 27
40 Time: 5.30
Vertical: 23
Broad: 8’3″

2013: Nick Williams

Height: 6’4/4
Weight: 309
Arm Length: 34 1/8
Hand Size: 10 1/4
Bench: 28
40 Time: 4.94
Broad: 9’3
Short Shuttle: 4.65
Three Cone: 7.55

2012: Alameda Ta’amu

Height: 6’2/4
Weight: 348
Arm Length: 32
Hand Size: 9 3/4
Bench: 35
40 Time: 5.37
Vertical: 26
Broad: 8’7″

2011: Cam Heyward

Height: 6’4/5
Weight: 294
Vertical: 30
Arm Length: 34 1/4
Hand Size: 10 1/8

2010: Doug Worthington

Height: 6’5/1
Weight: 292
Arm Length:34
Hand Size: 10
Bench: 19
Vertical: 35 1/2
Broad: 10’1″

2009: Ziggy Hood

Height: 6’2/6
Weight: 300
Arm Length: 33 1/4
Hand Size: 9 1/2
Bench: 34
40 Time: 4.97
Vertical: 33
Broad: 9’0″
Short Shuttle: 4.55
Three Cone: 7.50

Sonny Harris 

Height: 6’3/6
Weight: 296
Bench: 28
40 Time: 5.05
Vertical: 25.5
Broad: 8’10”
Short Shuttle: 4.87
Three Cone: 8.18

2007: Ryan McBean

Height: 6’5
Weight: 286
Bench: 27
40 Time: 4.98
Vertical: 28
Broad: 9’0″
Short Shuttle: 4.46
Three Cone: 7.79

So….things did not break as cleanly with the defensive linemen as it was with the receivers. This is sort of a mess and my goal is not to extrapolate everything out. It’s just as important when a metric doesn’t matter as when it does.

Off the bat, we’re just going to take out McCullers and Ta’amu. They’re the big ‘ol plugging nose tackles and frankly, those guys barely even existed in this year’s Combine. Both are over 345 while only one player from Indy this year was even over 330. So we have eight remaining.

Here are the metrics that have a correlation.

– Six of the eight were at least 6’4. Seven of the eight were at least 6’3.

– Seven of the eight weighed at least 290 pounds.

– Five of the six had at least 33 inch arms.

– Five of the six had at least 10 inch hands. None were smaller than 9.5.

– Three of the five ran sub 5.0 40s. Four of the five were sub 5.1. All were sub 5.3.

– Six of the seven had at least 25 bench press reps.

And the ones that don’t appear to have one.

– The vertical, broad, and shuttle drills do not show a strong correlation. We range from very medicoe times (Harris’ 25 inch vert, Walton’s 8’7″ broad) to the very good (Worthington’s 35 inch vert, McBean’s 4.46 short shuttle).

We could set some very broad parameters but it would only eliminate the worst of the worst.

So bottom line. All those numbers don’t matter much when evaluating and we won’t set criteria for them.

Here is the criteria we will use.

6’3 290+
33+ inch arms
10+ hands
Sub 5.3 40
25+ bench reps

And the four players at this year’s Combine who check every box.

NameHeightWeightArm LengthHand Size40 TimeBench Press Reps
Joel Heath6’5/229334 1/210 1/25.0226
Ufomba Kamalu6’5/129535105.0126
Chris Jones6’5/631034 1/210 3/45.0326
Robert Nkemdiche6’3/429433 7/810 3/44.8728

The bench press, the last thing I factored in, eliminated so many players. Cut my list to a fraction.

Those who came off: Hassan Ridgeway (24), DeVaunte Sigler (23), Shawn Oakman (23), A’Shawn Robinson (22), Adolphus Washington (21), Jihad Ward (20), and Vincent Valentine (17).

All those players fit every category but the bench. Of course, being two reps off is not throwing a guy’s name in the trash, but if we are sticking just to players who hit every mark of our criteria, they are taken off.

And if you’re wondering, because the buzz is incredible, Andrew Billings only missed in the “height” category. Checked all the other boxes. But I’m being objective here. He didn’t check them all so he didn’t make the list.

Robert Nkemdiche is one of the top talents in the draft but his inconsistent play and off the field problems making him anyone’s guess. I do think he’ll be on the board at 25 but his problems could make these figures irrelevant.

Chris Jones is a kid I’m high on and I get even more excited after seeing him fit the criteria. First round is pushing it, but certainly not impossible, and could work his way into the conversation. Joel Heath and Ufomba Kamalu are prime Day Three candidates to either double-down on or grab if the team does not address the position early.

So if we eliminate Nkemdiche, we are left with three players that the team is likely to have interest in. I’m going to try to do this for every position and try to create a list of 50 or so names that really fit the Steelers’ trends well.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Brian Miller

    Great article Alex, appreciate the info. What does Reed miss out on to keep him off of the list?

  • falconsaftey43

    Great work again Alex! This stuff is awsome, really surprising how small the group narrows down to when you look at just the measurables of guys they have drafted.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Another nice breakdown Alex. I think for this set of names the more intriguing players on the list are the ones for the later rounds because as you point out, the 2 up top are either drafted before us or have some issues. Don’t see either one of them being the pick.

    With that considered, I would say Billings is still very much in contention (he had the pro day viewing of Tomlin and Colbert) and I think you would agree with that despite objectively having to rule him out for your purposes here.

    It really makes me wonder if the Steelers have a sort of base line criteria they use for these things or it just happens to work out that way and they don’t fully realize that there are certain measurements they really covet.

  • Ethan Marines

    This is a great study Alex…but it leaves players off the list that the Steelers have shown a legit interest in via combine and pro days. Billings and Nassib come immediately to mind.

  • vasteeler

    admittedly i didnt see much of reed, but from what i’ve read he’s labeled as more of a 2 gapper

  • CP72

    Think Ridgeway is an interesting guy. Kinda lost in the mass of talent at the position. Just the type of raw skills that John Mitchell could turn into a real good player.

  • The criteria would be different for a NT as oppose to DE’s for our system.

  • RickM

    It’s a small sample but the one thing this shows me is that, unlike receivers, they have trouble finding good linemen if they don’t draft them early. The previous regime drafted Aaron Smith in the 4th round and Brett Keisel in the 7th round. There have been no productive D-line selections unfortunately from Round 3 on in quite some time.

  • vasteeler

    nick williams and mauro were snatched from their practice squads and they have become good depth players on other rosters

  • It was easier for the previous regime to find those diamonds in the rough because not that many teams ran a 3-4 back than…now half the league runs a 3-4 so more teams are going after that personal now a days.

  • same with 3-4 OLBs

  • RickM

    You’re very much right about that, but there are always excuses. This is simply not a strength (after Round 2) at the present time and the facts bear that out. Other teams running the 3-4 have had some success. It’s not a big deal, but the very poor drafting record after Round 2 is reality.

  • Sahin

    Great article series, but where did you get the benchpress numbers from? Nkemdiche and Buckners numbers seem very high.

  • I was just trying to point out something you may not have thought about before….they most definitely need to do a better job in their scouting (same can be said for the CB position obviously) but the previous regime had it much easy either way….they basically had their pickings at those tweeners at those DE’s and OLBs position.

  • falconsaftey43

    He did not bench, but one would assume he’d make that number. All other measures are met.

  • CP72

    Maybe this is why they like taking them early….

  • CP72

    I don’t recall….were Tomlin and Colbert at Alabama’s pro day?

  • RickM

    I agree that it was easier in the old days for sure. But as good a job as they have done finding receivers later on in the draft, they have done the opposite on D-linemen and CB’s as you say. Hopefully they can turn that around and start to hit on some of their non-first day picks at these two positions.

  • RickM

    7 of the 10 players above were not taken in the 1st or 2nd round. I’m not suggesting that they have to draft every D-lineman in the first two rounds. But like any team they need to start getting some production from their later D-linemen draft choices, most especially the Round 3 to 5 guys.

  • Jonas

    Appreciate the article, although I agree it doesn’t work that good with Dlinemen.
    Mainly because Coach Butler’s system changes some requirements for some defensive positions. Those player are probably still prefered, but the one-gap 34 and our nickel opened the list for other player types.

    It also makes sense to draft a guy that can play Nickel Tackle and Nose Tackle, if the value’s right. (So leverage over height)

  • steelers_26

    Vernon Butler ? Think he fill the boxs

  • vasteeler

    competition comittee will keep the same catch rule that no one understands and has just made proposal to eject player after 2 personal fouls, no way bengals make it to playoffs if this rule is passed

  • That would be nice….we can only draft so many wrs lol

  • CP72

    Yeah I agree with you. Other than receiver what other position have we struck gold with after the first 3 rounds? Wille Gay?

  • Tom Jackson

    Story just broke that Chris Jones got arrested on Wednesday and was charged for speeding and driving with a suspended license. Idiot.

    What a poster boy he is… Lmao

  • CP72

    Lol….better hope Pouncey stays healthy. Cody Wallace will surely get tossed once or twice with this rule.

  • Tibor M. Kalman

    Yes, I was also wondering about Butler. Seems like a guy who could play NT but also rotate in at DE in certain packages to give Cam & Tuitt some rest. I was thinking he was on their short list for rnds 1-2, but maybe not.

  • vasteeler

    I forgot about wallace, he’s definitely a candidate, hasnt college already instituted this rule?

  • PittsburghSports

    Tough study with DEs being included with NTs. Pretty much eliminates all the NTs I was looking at. I like all these players that fit though, especially Nkemdiche and Chris Jones(who I heard was just arrested for a suspended license lol). Joel Heath is a late rd guy, but he seems like a better athlete than most anticipated, so he might go higher than we think. Ufomba Kamalu I haven’t even looked at. Buckner is long gone.

    Just some notes on guys I like that don’t fit your criteria:

    Jihad Ward got 22 reps at his Pro Day.
    Bronson Kaufusi 5 lbs shy of 290 and 1/4″ short of 10″ hands.
    Vernon Butler missing the mark because of .03 on the 40.
    Quinton Jefferson has tiny hands.
    Darius Latham missing the mark because of .02 on the 40.
    Jarred Reed 1/8″ below 6’3″.
    Adam Gotsis 3 lbs shy of 290, but hasn’t worked out yet, I believe.

  • CP72

    Yeah sounds like it was just a suspended liscense. Dumb, but not crushing.

  • CP72

    That dude has a screw loose.

  • CP72

    Think his 40 was pretty slow. Might be more of a zero tech than a 5.

  • Tom Jackson

    Well doing that in the most important months of your life financially and suposedly with character concerns going into the process it’s kind of an issue. Not crushing like you said but still kind of a problem.

  • PittsburghSports

    Under 6’3″ by an 1/8″.

  • CP72

    Hope they didn’t frisk him. After what I saw at the combine they probably thought he was packing a weapon.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Alex, can you throw in some of their production stats from college? Might see some correlation there as well.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah, but with only 2 guys drafted since 2007, McCullers will throw the criteria way off lol.

  • 58Steel

    My take as well. The “requirements” for DL have changed for the Steelers. Their “interior lineman” are now primarily their DE’s, since they deploy the nickel about 2/3 of the time. It is clear, that the Big Snack type NT is no longer coveted.

  • Joe Rea

    Nassib would play OLB/End not End/Tackle.

  • PittsburghSports

    Cowher/Donahoe also drafted Jeremy Staat in rd 2.

  • His 40 was slow but his agility tests are on par with A’Shawn Robinson and Jarren Reed…he moves well for his size just don’t ask him to run 40 yrds lol

  • CP72

    Oh yuck….forgot about Jeremy Staat.

  • Alex Kozora

    Hey all,

    Thanks for enjoying the study. I made one mistake. Looked at the vert numbers instead of bench for Buckner and Nkemdiche. The latter still qualifies but Buckner was a DNP and put up only 21 at his Pro Day. So he is removed (not like he is dropping to PIT anyway).

    Don’t do your math at 2 AM, kids.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I was pissed when Mauro was snatched. He should have been on the 53 while Cam Thomas should have been gone. The situation at DL would not look so bad now.

  • and actually his 40 was under a 5.3 (barely) so I don’t know why he didn’t make this list because I believe he fits all the criteria…

  • vasteeler

    you’re not kidding, that made no sense at all

  • Alex Kozora

    This. Also DNP in the bench.

    The criteria is a fickle one.

  • PittsburghSports

    Good call. Buckner should be removed. Didn’t bench at the combine, and I have him for 21 reps at his Pro Day. Nkimdiche would still make it, but he’s at 28. Looks like Alex grabbed the VJ numbers instead.

  • Sorry…5.33 40 time. Barely over.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yup, just commented that. My b. Post is fixed.

  • PittsburghSports

    We had no shot at him anyway lol.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yes, let me make it very, very clear. This study does not mean anyone should put their head in the sand and ignore all other players. This is just looking at historical trends and is one of many, many, many pieces I (and you) should put in your evaluations.

    Obviously, when Mean Joe takes a kid out to dinner and the Steelers send the entire front office to Waco, you don’t remove Billings because he isn’t 6’3 (the only category he doesn’t meet). I still like Billings and think he’s a fine fit in Pittsburgh.

  • Alex Kozora

    The role has changed but the baselines really haven’t. You want size, you want length. Those two things are huge for Pittsburgh.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yup, 5.33 official. And hey, I was being really generous with that 40 time so I can’t tuck Butler in there.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Love this stuff as it gives you a better than outside chance of finding a gem in the lower rounds. You can usually find some easy way to make a case for 100 different guys, but after that it’s mostly potential and hope. This does help because if you see some occasional stellar play along with “Steeler” measuables, it’s much better than just a wild guess.

  • PittsburghSports

    lol he might not have know it was suspended. Nothing I would ever let happen, but some people just collect parking tickets and never pay them lol.

  • Alex Kozora

    Especially in college. About 5% of students actually bother.

  • RickM

    Yes, there are misses with every regime and in every round. That said, the draft record after Round 2 in this positional area has been very poor in terms of production for the team and it needs to improve.

  • RickM

    If fans are objective (tough sometimes) you’re right. Ignoring receivers there hasn’t been much in the way of starting production after the second round of the draft over the last 10 years. Beachum was the best and Gay as you mention. There are several other back-ups on the roster. That’s about it.

  • Tibor M. Kalman

    Well if the only thing keeping Butler off the list is his 40 time, I’ll presume the Steelers are still looking at him. 😉

  • RickM

    Williams had 9 tackles or assisted tackles total for the 2015 season so he hasn’t really contributed much. Mauro has definitely accomplished more with Arizona. In the end, the only thing I look at is did the drafted player contribute to the team and neither did.

    Mentioning Williams and Mauro as a response to getting Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel late in the draft is pretty far out there by the way…in the nicest way possible. Sorry but it is, as you I’m sure know.

  • 58Steel

    Understood. I guess my understanding is they want guys with the basic criteria you have outlined. And the role of NT is “devalued” to the point that maybe you have just 1 guy who can fill that need, who you probably get in round 4 or later of the draft. The snap totals just aren’t there to justify more investment. I know that’s not the intent of your article. I do like what you’re doing: attempting to build a list of potential “Steeler fits” at each position. Will be interesting to see how it matches up with their actual selections.

  • Brian Miller

    Thanks PittsburghSports!

  • Brian Miller

    I think so…

  • Brian Miller

    Thanks, although you mentioned earlier and I agree they could potentially take 2 DL in the draft, maybe one like Reed and then a “flex” to help spell the others, like Jones from MSU? You think that is a viable option?

  • vasteeler

    i hope so sounds good to me

  • It’s really a study of the DE position. only 4 of the 8 drafted check all the boxes so the pool of potentials is certainly much larger. Worth noting that Keisel and Aaron Smith were both 6-5, 279 at the combine
    (too light?) while other players from that era, Hoke, Eason, Kirshke, Kimo all played at 6-3 to 6-4 and 295-310 lb.

  • Ike Evans

    Ive mocked chris jones, hassan Ridgeway, and joel heath to us in different mocks….very good players….alex, do you think the criteria for DE may be changing with them looking at more undersized guys who can rush the passer in nickel? Or guys who are more 3 techs…they looked at alot of 3 tech type guys in 2015

  • Ethan Marines

    I wouldn’t call Nassib an olb. He is around 6’7″ and is 277lbs. He still has a lot of room to grow on that frame. he actually reminds me a lot of brett keisel, he is tall and lean!

  • Alex Kozora

    You’re definitely looking for more pass rushing types and not just the old “take a DT and kick him out” idea. But the criteria does not really change for me. You need size, you need length. That will never change.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah I would love to see the study extended all the way through to the beginning of the Donahue era, which I think was a year before Cowher became the coach, or even just through the Colbert years. Even some of the FA pickups, and recent ones like Cam Thomas, who has long arms, and Clifton Geathers who had height and arm length.

  • Fuamatu-Ma’afala

    They know and consider everything. Don’t think for a second they didn’t discuss Tyrann Mathieu before they drafted Senquez Golson. Compare their measurables and combine results. That excites me in regards to their plans with Golson.

  • John Phillips

    Would love to see Chris Jones in black and yellow

  • Fuamatu-Ma’afala

    To me it appears they’re trying to build a versatile 3-4 defense and are (smartly) heavily focused on sub package defense. I see Billings as a dream to them, a freakish athlete that can play NT and all along the line on all 3 downs. I see a trend in drafting freakish versatile athletes relative to size and position. I could list players but just go ahead and look at the last two draft classes. I hated the Jarvis Jones pick because he got by on pure effort in college, he was never going to be a difference maker. Maybe they learned from that? But sub package defense is now as important as base, if not more so. It all comes down to converting and preventing 3rd downs.

  • Gregg Edwards

    Great job Alex….very interesting look.

  • Matt Manzo

    Getting arrested for a suspended license is a petty charge. That cop is a jerk off. He shoulda had his license taken, gotten a ticket and had his car towed. Arresting him doesn’t make sense. Unless it was his 2 nd offense.

    I’m not bothered by a suspended license at all.

  • Matt Manzo

    Alex, I love this series! Another great addition!
    But it seems to me this is more specific to DEs. Is that because of the versatility were wanting from our Dlineman? I’ve always thought we wanted our DTs to be at least 320? I saw Mclendon as a shift towards a more athletic DT, but still big enough to plug. I thought Walton would be molded into that, too.
    Mcullers kinda threw me off, but I think he’s athletic enough to make a difference in base D. If he develops the way some of the other youngins have.
    Is it safe to say we’ll be drafting both a DE and DT in this draft? Or will we look for one guy that can do both?

  • Tone Bone

    One of the best articles I read on this site..

  • Shane Mitchell

    I just dont know if the usual DE physical criteria fits as well for their scheme or potential scheme this season, and here is my reasoning.

    There are different ways to align and play in a 3-4 and although it is a subtle change by just a few inches in alignment,what you are asking out of the player physically changes quite a bit, and the attributes you look for should also change accordingly.

    When Tomlin became HC he let LeBeau run his 3-4 scheme the way he wanted to run it.. LeBeau had his DEs two gapping most of the time, this required DEs that are almost superhuman, that is basically what the formula in this article is narrowing it down to find, DEs that are immovable objects with the size and power to move laterally while engaged and cover 2 gaps. Not easy to find these guys, as Alex’s superhuman DE formula shows.

    But as they lost a few of the key players to make the scheme work, namely a decade of never ending all pro linebackers inside and out, that could rush the passer, an immovable NT and an all world SS, things changed.

    I believe they made a change in their fundamental philosophy with their dline and started to play more alignments where their DEs lined up in a 4i technique(slightly inside the tackle), and didnt have to two gap as much, instead they contain the “B” gaps , this allows the DEs a chance on pass plays to get involved in the pass rush more easily, but still be able to flow down the line and not get caught in the wash against the run.
    I am simplifying it a bit because they have many alignments that are a combination of two gapping and one gapping with in all these fronts for different calls. But I would say Alex’s superhuman DE formula still fits, but maybe they dont have to be quite as stout as a pure 2 gap DEs.

    To my point, and why they could be looking for a different type of Dlineman. I believe the philosophy is changing once again this season. I think they will play more of a 3-4 under front, this is a shift of alignment with the NT no longer lining up heads up over the center and occupying blockers, instead the NT plays a shade off and penetrates the “A” gap (Andrew Billings is a shade NT, it is what he played at Baylor) You can get some quick pressure on the QB from this spot with a quicker NT instead of a Behemoth 0 technique NT. The shift also changes how the strong side DE plays, now you can unleash this DE to penetrate the “C” or “B” gap every single down, this player is no longer two gapping or just containing a gap, he is bringing it every down and plays the run on his way to the QB. (this is the position JJ Watt plays in Houston’s 3-4) So this player doesnt necessarily have to be as stout they can be a little smaller and quicker at DE (5 technique) You want a guy here that can get after the QB. So Alex’s superhuman DE formula might not hold true here, it opens the door to many more players that would fit, if my speculation is correct.

    The other evidence I have that suggest this shift in philosophy are the players they are looking at in the draft(Billings) and FA that fit this scheme change, not just on the Dline ,but also in the secondary. Will Gay made a statement when he was signed that the conversion was complete, I believe the conversion he was referring to is a conversion to cover-2, or Tampa-2 variations as their primary coverage. Almost every cover-2 or Tampa-2 defense plays a lot of snaps in an under front, because if you don’t get pressure on the QB running cover-2 you are susceptible to the deep throws down the seams.
    The CBs for this scheme can be smaller, quicker, click and close types of CBs because they don’t have to cover a big receiver all the way deep down the field. (it is inline with the CBs they have been acquiring and continue to show interest in)
    Lastly, we come to the safety play. It is much easier mentally to play safety in cover-2 than in a cover-3 scheme, the keys are much easier to read and the responsibilities do not change much play to play. They don’t need a Troy or Weddle type of safety, just need 2 that have good range and can cover their deep half of the field. in my mind this could be Golden and Mitchell, but also reopens the door for Shamarko Thomas to get another chance. More cover-2 less cover-3 makes sense.

    Defenses are constantly evolving around the league and as one defensive scheme is successful other teams start to assimilate bits and pieces of it. The Broncos defense was a 3-4 under front this past season, and it was very effective at getting consistent pressure on QBs inside. When your dlinemen have the freedom to pin their ears back and penetrate almost every down it makes it hard for a QB to step up in the pocket and avoid outside pass rushes as easily.

    If my assumptions are correct more players would fit at DE now than what Alex’s superhuman DE formula suggests historically.

  • 58Steel

    Excellent analysis. Don’t know if it’s 100% accurate, but I could follow it and it seemed logical. Thanks for your insight.

  • Alex Kozora

    It started out as all DL but with only really 2 NTs and molds that don’t fit anyone this year, it wasn’t worth exploring. Nothing really to learn from it.

    So wasn’t my intent but the way the data went to me. You can generally apply to to nose tackles though, given the shift to more athletic ones. Length is still really critical.

  • Alex Kozora

    Wow, good stuff Shane. Lot there to comb through. Generally, I agree with it. I’ve actually talked about that on here and on Twitter that the true five tech (outside shoulder of tackle) is dead. Even in the 3-4, the Steelers are inside shade and maybe head up. Not often outside with the OLB responsible for the C gap/force player.

    One of my goals is to do a study of how often a true 5 tech appears compared to say, 5 years ago.

    But the Steelers still do two gap more than most teams, even if that number has come down. Former Browns’ OT Mitchell Schwartz idenfitied us as one of the few teams that still two gap quite a bit.

    And I don’t think there is much here in the data to suggest anything that contradicts the philosophy shift. The data still shows big guys with length and an overall degree of athleticism. Heck, the guy they took last year, Walton, was one of the least athletic they’ve taken.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Yeah, as I said I simplified the principles in the alignments because I didn’t want to go into a long drawn out post that no one would read.

    I should add this, even switching to more of an under alignment wouldn’t totally eliminate two gapping, because sometimes the weak side DE two gaps as the strong side DE penetrates the “c” gap, reason being this allows the weak side to still flow to the ball in run support without getting caught in the wash. The weak side DE switches between techniques depending on down and distance and play calls more often than the strong side DE.

    So, you still need at least one very stout DE that fits your formula in the under front.

  • Shane Mitchell

    If they want to play a lot of Cover-2, they have to get pressure without blitzing a lot, that is the main reason this front usually goes hand in hand with teams that play a lot of Cover-2.

  • Matt Manzo

    Are Butler and Billings and Jones the only early rounders that can play both Tackle and End? It looks that way to me, but I still haven’t scouted everyone.