After seeing that great post by wildeagle on the 3-4 and its positions, I did some research on my own and can now see why the 3-4 is so appealing.
A Brief Overview
The 3-4 is a defensive alignment that incorporates three defensive line-man, four linebackers, and four defensive backs. This scheme is meant to incorporate more varied blitzing and coverage schemes against today's dynamic passing offenses.
Nose Tackle- This position is no doubt the anchor of the 3-4 defense. The Nose Tackle's main job is to clog up the middle of the line in order to force the running back to the outside and allow the linebackers to make a play on the ball carrier. The NT should weigh around 340 pounds, and needs to consistently take on the center and a guard each play. They are not expected to have great statistics or highlights, despite being the most crucial piece to this scheme.
Examples of these Nose Tackles over the years:
Name, Weight, Round
Vince Wilfork- 340 lbs- 6ft 2 , 1st
Isaac Sopoaga- 330 lbs, 6ft 2, 4th
Casey Hampton- 325 lbs- 6ft 1, 1st
My Solution- Star Lotulelei. Similar Height and Measurement. Can command double teams, and has great burst. Antonio Dixon can be a great backup.
Ultimate Star Lotulelei Highlights (via MooseHeadSports)
3-4 Defensive End- Tend to weigh around 290-310, and many are former 4-3 DT/DE "tweeners". They must be able to play the run well. Their main role is to protect the linebackers and stop O-linemen from reaching the second level.
Good Examples of 3-4 DE's-
Haloti Ngata- 330 lbs- 6ft 4- 1st
Darnell Dockett- 290 lbs- 6ft 4- 3rd
Justin Smith- 285 lbs- 6ft 5- 1st
Haloti Ngata 3-4 DE play
Haloti Ngata Highlights (via WatchSomeFootball)
My Solution- Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins, with Cedric Thornton rotation. I do want to pickup some competition through LSU's Bennie Logan. Hes 6ft 3 and weighs295. He has a 4.8 40 time. He is no doubt the reason LSU has a top 5 run defense this year. Needs to work on mechanics. Can be taken in the 4th.
Bennie Logan vs. Ole Miss (2012) (via Mario Clavel)
3-4 Inside Linebackers- There are two inside linebackers and two outside linebackers. The inside linebackers are responsible for run defense and must be able to blitz and go back in coverage. One will line up next to Guard and Tackle, and the other will line up in between Center and Guard. The strong-side "MIKE", must have an attacking style of play to come up and meet a ball carrier at the line of scrimmage and be fast enough to string him out to the sideline. The 40 times are usually around 4.5 and 4.7 for these type of players.
Good Examples of 3-4 LBs
James Harrison- 240 lbs- 6ft 0- undrafted
Patrick Willis- 240 lbs- 6ft 1- 1st
Navarro Bowman- 242lbs - 6ft 0- 3rd
EdEs 2011 #53 Navorro Bowman Highlights (via 49ersFanEdEs)
3-4 Outside Linebacker- An OLB in this defense is the pass rusher. They must be tall, fast, and have long arms in order to shed tackles. They usually line up on the outside shoulder of the TE. They are also responsible for containing the outside run game and the sidelines.
Good Examlples of 3-4 Outside linebackers
Clay Mathews- 255 lbs- 6 ft3- 1st
Brian Orakpo- 257 lbs- 6ft 4- 1st
Demarcus Ware- 260lbs- 6ft 4- 1st
Good Outside Linebacker Play
My Solution- Brandon Graham, although a bit short, should do fine as a pass rusher and run container. He has the closing speed and technique to shed blockers and chase running backs. The other side is a bit more difficult. Trent Cole and Daryl Tapp have no place in this defense. I choose Vinny Curry for this role. At 6ft 3 and 265 lbs, I think he can handle this responsibility. I do think we need to bring in a good defensive hybrid through either the FA or the draft. If FA, I would like Micheal Johnson, who is a whopping 6'7 and 270 lbs. He is likely to leave the Bengals after a 10 sack season and is a force to be reckoned with. For the draft, I would look at DE Cornelius Carredine. Predicted to go in the first round, Carradine was a stud on the Florida State. He tore his ACL and now his stock has gone down to 4th round. he is 260 lbs, is 6'4, and has a 4.7 40 time.
Cornelius Carradine Highlights (#91)
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine vs Wake Forest 2012 (via JmpasqDraftjedi)
3-4 Defensive Backs- This CBs needs to be very fast with good ball skills as he plays alot of man coverage due to the schemes employed, dependent on what the front 7 does. The CB will also have to employ zone coverage at times. The CB also needs to have anough strength to tackle running backs on the outside. The Safety is one of the most crucial positions in the 3-4. They need to be able to help in the second level run support, and call all coverage adjustments. Their play will significantly affect the CB's play. He must be a quick and smart player, capable of making tackles efficiently as well as reading the play and alerting his team of game situations.
Good examples of 3-4 CBs
Patrick Peterson- 219lbs- 6ft 0- 1st
Jonathan Joseph- 189 lbs- 5ft 11- 1st
Tramon Williams- 191 lbs- 5ft 11- undrafted
Ultimate Patrick Peterson highlights (via TheSaintsWorld1)
Good Examples of 3-4 Safetys
Troy Polamalu- 207 lbs- 5ft 10- 1st
Ed Reed- 205 lbs- 5ft 11- 1st
Eric Berry- 211 lbs- 6ft- 1st
Troy Polamalu Ultimate Highlights (via oshawottmijumaru12)
My Solution: Nnamdi is not suitable for this defense. He is aging, and cannot always depend on safety help in the 3-4. If he restructures, I am sure we can find a good way to use him. For the other side, I think DRC can do it. He needs to put more effort in run blocking, but with better safety support, he will be a great CB in this scheme. For CB, I would like to address this in the draft. Desmond Trufant, CB of Washington, has had an excellent season, and is sure to go with in second round. He is amazing at pass coverage, and take players out of the game. His run defense can improve, but not in terms of effort, but rather technique. A good coach can make him dominant in this pass happy league. I would not mind looking at Sam Shields, who is going to be a FA next year. Coming form a 3-4 scheme, he can provide us with veteran leadership, and challenge for a starting spot on day 1. It will also push DRC and force him to work harder in run defense and effort overall.
For Safety, I am really interested in either Matt Elam or Jonathan Cyprien. Both are great run defenders and good at coverage. This is crucial for the 3-4 scheme. I would also like to pick up a free agent safety, such as Donte Whitner. He has experience in the 3-4 and has played pretty well for the 49ers. Safety is no doubt the most important position to address in the off season.
Ultimate Matt Elam Highlights | HD (via TheFootballman175)
In conclusion, we do have the pieces for the 3-4, and can develop a dominant defense with good coaching and personnel. I think its a great idea to hire Ed Donatell, the DB coach of 49ers. He has experience with one of the best 3-4 defenses in the league, and has DC experience in college. I am excited to see how this develops in the upcoming months, and hope we can return our dominance in 2004. Your turn Chip.