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Snap counts, LK-40 and the Dallas 3-4. A case study in misconceptions

As everyone is aware, I have been the Conductor on the LK-40 express. For those that are unaware that is Luke Kuechly, and is college # was 40. IMO, should Kuechly fall to #14, he would be the apparent "BPA". there are many sites that have Kuechly in the top 10, if not higher, in terms of the incoming prospects. That being said, with the addition of Dan Connor, plus the expected rise of Bruce Carter, many have said that LK-40 shouldn't be drafted. And while I agree with them to an extent, I feel that there are a few Misconceptions that I want to clear up regarding LK-40 and the Dallas 3-4.

Misconception #1- "Bruce Carter was picked in the second round last year, thus he is the Starter. Dallas should pass on LK-40 because of this."

The reality- Bruce Carter is expected to take on the starting role, not because he was a second round pick, but because he is easily one of the most athletically gifted players on the team. The reason He was a 2nd rounder was because of his knee surgery. Had he not fallen to the 40th pick, Dallas would have taken another player, likely DaQuan Bowers, who like Carter was a highly ranked player, but fell due to injury concerns. The reason that Carter was taken was that Dallas felt that Carter, although a lesser ranked player prior to injury, would be more of an upgrade than Bowers due to the need at ILB. The second round pick is now "a sunk cost", and should have minimal bearing on who starts......

Misconception #2- Given the depth of the ILB position in Dallas, how would LK-40 get any snaps?

The Reality- LK-40 more than likely would start next to Sean Lee, and at worst would be the the primary backup to both. And Remember, Rob Ryan, uses a lot of LB's in his defensive scheme, so having 4 athletically gifted LB's Ware, Lee, LK-40, and Carter, would send him into nirvana. But to "break it down" here is how the snaps could be divided, assuming that LK-40 gets the starting job, and in this we are figuring on the defense getting 1,000 total snaps:

Scenario #1 Lee and Kuechly get all the snaps:

Lee../ Keuchly../ Carter../ Connor

1,000/ 1,000 / 0000/ 0000

Now Obviously this isn't going to happen for several reasons

A). Carter is a great weapon and should be on the Field

B). both LK and Lee don't need to be on the field for every snap

So with that in mind lets look at the second Scenario:

Lee/ LK-40/ Carter/ Connor

800./ 800/ /400/000

While this is a little better, there are some issues.

A) at 800 snaps, LK is playing a lot of snaps for a rookie

B) Connor is making alot of money just sitting on the bench

So lets do a little more maneuvering of the snaps in Scenario #3:

Lee/LK-40/Carter/Connor

800/600/400/200

Now this is the ideal rotation IMO. you are giving Lee a least 10 snaps per game off, thus allowing him to stay fresh later in the game, plus allowing LK-40 to "grow into" the position by minimizing his snap counts. This also allows Carter to get significant time, and allows Connor some time on the field.

Now all this is of course assuming that both Lee and Lk-40 aren't injured at any point(knock on wood) so it is likely that those counts could be different. The biggest key is that Dallas would be prepared should either go down. So at worst LK would get 400 snaps as the primary backup/ nickel back.

Misconception #3: By drafting LK-40, Dallas is "giving up" on Bruce Carter.

The Reality: As I stated there is plenty of room just at the ILB position for all four players. However to truly understand what LK-40 could allow Dallas to do, we need to take a step back and Look at the Defense, as a whole, vs just the ILB position.

Dallas runs a 3-4 defense right? in theory yes, in practice...no. In this excellent breakdown of the Dallas Defense, Coty Saxman explains how teams see the Dallas 3-4. Ironically for all those that are clamoring for a return to a 4-3 defense, you have gotten your wish, you just didn't know it. While Dallas does line up in a 3-4 "set" once the ball is snapped, Dallas becomes a 4-3 defense. Why is that? It is because of DeMarcus Ware. The issue Dallas is faced with isn't not that they have DeMarcus Ware, but that they only have one. A traditional 3-4 needs to have two OLB's that are roughly equal in pass rush ability and in coverage ability. This is so that the Defense can apply pressure equally with either LB. the basic idea of the 3-4 is that either OLB can rush, thus the Offense has to "guess" which one is coming. (also to a lesser extent the ILB's are included in this)

Dallas on the other hand has Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer as the OLB's. Few teams fear Spencer coming from the right side, because in a normal situation, he doesn't rush the passer, unless Rob brings him as the 5th rusher. So in effect Dallas becomes a 4-3 team out of a 3-4 "look", which doesn't fool anyone.

So what does this have to do with Drafting LK-40? I am glad you asked. What LK brings to the table is the ability to play any LB spot in a 4-3 defense. Remember, Dallas is effectively a 4-3, so it would be very easy to utilize Lee, Carter and LK in the defense. I would propose that Dallas simply move Spencer to the LDE spot, and allow Carter and LK to man what is effectively the OLB spots in the Dallas Defense. to illustrate here is a screen shot of the Spencer Nickel:

Sack_presnap_medium

Here is Kegbrearer's explanation:

Spencer Nickel, playing Ratliff and Spencer as defensive ends with their hands on the ground and Hatcher as the nose tackle. In truth, Spencer is playing like a 4-3 defensive end, while Ratliff and Hatcher are playing like tackles.

Now replace Ball with Carter, and the Two "blitzing ILB's with Lee and Keuchly, and you can see the advantage of this Defense. Now for those that are saying that Carter couldn't play as a 3-4 LOLB, you are right. However by moving Spencer to the LDE spot, he(Carter) is effectively a a 4-3 OLB. Thus Lee and LK become an OLB and ILB.

This is where LK can help Dallas. By allowing Rob to have 3 ILBs that can play any LB position in the 4-3, he can create more pressure by allowing Ware around. And wouldn't you love to see a Ware, Lee, Kuechly, Carter LB set? There would be many ways to get all three on the field at once, not to mention that Lee nor Carter have played a full 16 game schedule yet......

(edit) I have posted these in several places, but here are the Combine results for all 4 LB's:

Sean Lee:

Combine Invite: Yes
Height: 6-2
Weight: 236
40 Yrd Dash: 4.71
20 Yrd Dash: 2.63
10 Yrd Dash: 1.61
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 24
Vertical Jump: 37 1/2
Broad Jump: 10'00"
20 Yrd Shuttle:
3-Cone Drill:
No shuttles or 3-cone, back - 40 Time Range: 4.71-4.80

Dates: 03/17/10
Height: 6021
Weight: 236
40 Yrd Dash: 4.60
20 Yrd Dash: 2.63
10 Yrd Dash: 1.54
225 Lb. Bench Reps:
Vertical Jump:
Broad Jump:
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.16
3-Cone Drill: 6.89

Bruce Carter:

Combine Invite: Yes
Height: 6-1
Weight: 243
40 Yrd Dash:
20 Yrd Dash:
10 Yrd Dash:
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 25
Vertical Jump:
Broad Jump:
20 Yrd Shuttle:
3-Cone Drill:


Dates: 03/31/11
Height: 6014
Weight: 243
40 Yrd Dash: 4.43*
20 Yrd Dash:
10 Yrd Dash:
225 Lb. Bench Reps:
Vertical Jump: 40"*
Broad Jump:
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.2*
3-Cone Drill:

No workout, Coming off 12/14/10 Knee surgery

*denotes estimated

Dan Connor:

Combine Invite: Yes
Height: 6-2
Weight: 231
40 Yrd Dash:
20 Yrd Dash:
10 Yrd Dash:
225 Lb. Bench Reps:
Vertical Jump:
Broad Jump:
20 Yrd Shuttle:
3-Cone Drill:
No Combine workout/sick

Dates: 03/18/08
Height: 6023
Weight: 231
40 Yrd Dash: 4.67
20 Yrd Dash: 2.70
10 Yrd Dash: 1.58
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 21
Vertical Jump: 35
Broad Jump: 09'07"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.25
3-Cone Drill: 6.78

Luke Kuechley

Combine Invite: Yes
Height: 6-2
Weight: 242
40 Yrd Dash: 4.58
20 Yrd Dash:
10 Yrd Dash:
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 27
Vertical Jump: 38
Broad Jump: 10'03"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.12
3-Cone Drill: 6.92


Dates: 03/21/12
Height: 6024
Weight: 242
40 Yrd Dash:
20 Yrd Dash:
10 Yrd Dash:
225 Lb. Bench Reps:
Vertical Jump:
Broad Jump:
20 Yrd Shuttle:
3-Cone Drill:

As you can see LK-40 is every bit as athletic as both Lee and Carter, and basically blows Dan Connor away(who isn't exactly horrible).....and is comparable to Lee in most respects......

I hope that this helps to clarify why I like LK-40 so much. He gives Dallas so many more options, and allows Carter to fully blossom. I admit that I liked the Dan Connor signing, and I feel that he would start on 90% of NFL teams. And I pose a very simple question:

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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