I’ve watched the filmed games of a number of prospects, hoping to find ideal fits for my beloved New York Jets, but what I ended up thinking afterwards was that some players would be better off in a different position. After seeing Rex Ryan, when he was coaching the defense in Baltimore, put Haloti Ngata at the 3-4 defensive tackle position (a position similar to the five technique defensive end), and Wade Phillips utilizing Mario Williams as a 3-4 outside linebacker in Houston this past year, I have started to look at players in a different way.
I truly believe that many NFL players that end up being labeled busts or disappointing draft picks would have been better off under a different coach, in a different system, and in some cases playing a different position. So here are my “out of the box” ideas regarding some of this year’s possible first round NFL Draft prospects:
- Chandler Jones, Syracuse University: some NFL Draft experts, such as Mel Kiper, think that Jones would be a good fit at 3-4 outside linebacker. After watching him pla, against West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and the University of Connecticut, I can almost guarantee he would be a “bust” at that position. I see Jones best suited to play as a five technique defensive end. Yes I know he’s only 266 pounds but if he can add another 15-20 pounds of muscle to his relatively lean frame he would be a very good player as a 5-tech.
- Courtney Upshaw, University of Alabama: almost every person I’ve spoken to envisions this popular defensive player as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he might do well at that position, if put in the right situation. Despite the general consensus by other people, I think there’s a better use for this run stopper. If I was the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, then I would draft Upshaw with the fifteenth overall pick. I believe that Upshaw would be a Pro Bowl 4-3 outside linebacker as a rookie, and he would be effective in stifling the rushing offenses of the Eagles’ NFC East opponents. The linebacker core of Philadelphia was a weakness for the team in 2011, but with the addition of DeMeco Ryans and Courtney Upshaw it would become a strength.
- Dontari Poe, University of Memphis: every team utilizing the 3-4 defense, except maybe Baltimore, should consider drafting Poe. He would be best utilized in the same 3-4 defensive tackle role that Haloti Ngata plays for Baltimore. Poe looks like a far more motivated and dangerous player when playing on the outside than the inside, which leads me to believe he would be a complete failure as a zero technique nose tackle.
- Melvin Ingram, University of South Carolina: the draft community is split on how to best use this integuing prospect. There are some that think Ingram could easily play as a pass rushing 4-3 defensive end, others think Ingram would be best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker in a role similiar to the one Adalius Thomas played for the Baltimore Ravens under Rex Ryan, and there are a number of people who think he lacks a true position. I think I have figured out the position Ingram should play, thanks to a conversation I had with Jeremy Hyde, known as @Froginthewindow on Twitter. I believe that Ingram would be best suited to play at inside/middle linebacker where his coverage skills, the biggest strength of the linebacker’s, would be best utilized.