I think that Rex's announcement that Coples will play DE next year, along with other sections of our draft, is a clear sign that we will be a primarily 4-3 base defense next year. Join me after the jump for reasons why.
Versatility on the defensive line: With a 3-4 in place, we have a lot of players than can move across the line. While you could argue Wilkerson belongs more at a DT position in the 4-3, he would aslo be capable at DE, especially in the run game. Devito is also very capable of playing DT in a 4-3, and we're bringing Ellis up. If in the near future we could draft or sign a capable 4-3 LE, our DL could be dominant for a very long time, with 3 players in their 1st two years.
Linebacker Situation: Drafting Davis in the third round made me think. To me, he seems to be more of a 4-3 olb, defending against the pass and run than a 3-4 olb, designed to rush the passer. As a replacement for the aging Thomas and Pace, he changes the way we need to view the team. Now, with Harris and Davis, we have two talented LB's in a 4-3 system, making the older Thomas and Scott expendable. As we have money for neither next year, we needed to infuse the LB corps with talent, and we did so, eliminated Scott's position, and beginning to prepare for next year, where due to age and cap space we will have to release 3 of our 4 starting LB's from 2011. This draft made it possible, if we find a cheap, decent OLB to replace Pace next year.
Changes in Defensive Strategy: Teams don't line up in their base too often anyways. A move to the 4-3 base does not obligate us to use it all the time, as we could experiment with the 3-4 and also run a huge variation of nickel and dime packages. In our current situation, the Jets would be truly dominant in the 4-3, fitting our personnel excellently.