This is playing things close to the vest when it comes to “need” and helping opposing teams project their needs, of course. Adding to that, the line between a 3-4 standup outside linebacker and a 4-3 edge rusher have somewhat blurred over the years.
You can have teams evaluate 4-3 ends as 3-4 backers, and visa versa, and it makes it tough to pinpoint scheme archetypes.
“A lot of times it opens it up for you,” said Pace. “Because there are a lot of undersized defensive ends in college who can stand up and play outside linebacker in the 3-4. So it’s exciting to me. I’ve been in both systems in New Orleans. We’ve been 4-3 and 3-4. So I think it opens up more players. Because there are undersized ends who can play that stand-up position and rush the quarterback from a two-point stance.”
Mizzou’s Shane Ray, Utah’s Nate Orchard and LSU’s Danielle Hunter come to mind.
As Pace pointed out, there’s some flexibility with what you can do at the traditional nose tackle position in a 3-4 as well.
“I think there’s a couple guys who can do it,” he said. “One of them’s done it before in Dallas. It doesn’t have to be this big, 350-pound space-eater. You can use him in a variety of ways.”
The Rams found their own version of DHB, albeit about six inches shorter. St. Louis traded up to the eighth spot in the draft in 2013 to get glorified punt returner Tavon Austin. Cornerback Brandon McGee, a fifth-round pick in 2013, has been reduced to a bit role and spent most of last year on IR. Chris Givens, a forth-round pick in 2012, had a promising rookie season, but quickly faded away in the Rams’ confused offense.
The award for most Davis-like picks goes to the Jets, who picked up a disappointing Stephen Hill in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. A year later they spent a first-round pick on the disappointing Milliner. A sixth-round pick last year, the Jets cut Brandon Dixon before the season started. The good news for the Jets is that they have a brand new coach and general manager making the picks this year.