When you hear the talk of more 4-man defensive lines there's plenty of reason to be excited. Yes, we've operated out of a hybrid scheme for the past few years, but right now... right now, we're built to run more 40 looks. I know we still have dinasours like Pouha and Devito as intrical cogs in our defensive line wheel, but the future lies with our young athletes. Players like Coples, Wilkerson and Ellis are the future. You could even add Maybin to that group. They might even be the present. And there's reason to be excited about the likes of our LBs too.
Harris is a bona fide stud. He's at his best when he's allowed to attack, and when he can flow freely to the ball. More forty fronts will allow him to do just that. The same can be said for Bart Scott
. And with Bart dropping some weight and gaining some mobility, I'm expecting these guys to be as dynmaic as they were in 2009. But I'm most excited about Demario Davis
and Marcus Dowtin
. Davis has shown that he's a very athletic and very explosive prospect who possesses the kind of leadership qualities that bring about a certain level of expectations. But I think Dowtin, despite being a UDFA, just might be the one that plays sooner and more often. Dude just sizzles on tape, and just seems to have that "it" quality that you look for. He has a nose like a bloodhound for the ball, and when he gets there he blows up stuff. I like having two young backers waiting in the wings that are athletic and mobile and violenty aggressive and instinctive. Davis finished the year with 69 total tackles, with 10 for a loss and 3 sacks. Guess who, their last year of college, had 94 tackles with 15 for a loss and 2 sacks?
Kenrick "Freaking" Ellis. Thats who. Yes, 94 tackles for a DT is damn impressive, regardless of the level of competition. And I think the transition to more 4-man lines is going to help him immensely. He's had issues with his pad level in his rookie year. But I honestly think that a lot of that was due to playing with more of a 30 front base mentality. The stacking and shedding and reading and reacting made the big fella have an inclination to stand up a bit. I think that in a 40 front, he'll be able to do what he does best and attack the line of scrimmage and then go hunt for the football. I think with the schematic shift in fronts along with being coached up a bit by Dunbar, Kenrick is going to bust out. 94 tackles is freaky for a DT. You don't fall into 94 tackles by opponents running into you at scrimmage. Heck, thats 25 more tackles than the explosively athletic Demario Davis notched against subpar competition. 94 tackles man!!! Crazy.
Now lets talk about some other guys. Mo Wilkerson will be an absolute stud in a 40 front. He was born to play undertackle. I think with an attacking and athletic 340 lbs Kenrick Ellis
by his side, Mo Wilk can do some things with the space he'll have. He can stunt and dive at gaps galore. And with that wing span and ability to change direction, I think he'll be quite the headache for most o-lines. Coples is just a freak. DE on regular downs, DT freak on passing downs... whatyagonnado wit dat guy? And Pace might be a pretty pedastrian 34 OLB, but as a 43 DE he's goshdang athletic. He can hold the point of attck, AND give you some range. Plus he gives you decent pop in the pass rush. And Maybin? Lets just say speed kills. Pace and Maybin at DEs with Coples and Wilkerson at DTs, and thats a pretty freaking athletic group you got there. Sprinkle some Rex blitzes behind that bad boy with the likes of Davis and/or Dowtin and/or Landry and/or some other DB/LB and we can do some things. Some very bad things. Things that hurt.