Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
One BTB reader wants to know where Sean Lissemore will fit in with Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense. We answer his question and analyze where Lissemore may fit best.
"Can/will Lissemore be our starting 3-tech? Or is he more suited to playing the 1-tech?" –DaJugganaut
Back in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys invested just a seventh-round draft pick on William & Mary defensive lineman Sean Lissemore. When you can acquire a player of Lissemore's quality in the seventh round, then your scouting department is doing their homework.
Former head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips opted to draft a more athletic defensive lineman like Lissemore instead of the space-eater that many suggested the team needed to add. Lissemore has played nose tackle and defensive end under Wade Phillips and Rob Ryan, but with Monte Kiffin we can expect to see Lissemore play inside as a 4-3 defensive tackle.
Back in January, the mothership posted an article about the averages of the height and weight of each defensive player from Monte Kiffin's run in Tampa Bay from 2003-2008. From looking at those averages, Lissemore's height and weight (6-3, 303) would be an ideal fit for the 1-tech position.
Lissemore is an interesting defensive tackle because he is relentless and possesses a non-stop motor. His physicality can be somewhat expected from a man of his size, but his athleticism is truly impressive because there aren't too many defensive lineman that are his size and run as well as he does. Lissemore is a former track athlete and wrestler. He moves extremely well and he also has some natural strength to his game that would transition well to the 1-tech position where he would face a lot of double teams.
Ideally, Kiffin and the Cowboys are probably looking for a defensive tackle that can hold up and anchor against the run, but they will also want their 1-tech to attack and have some pass rushing ability. After signing a long term-deal with the Cowboys last season, Lissemore didn't take the next step in his development.
During the 2012 season, I saw Lissemore struggle with power lineman and was driven back off of the line more than usual. He suffered a high ankle sprain and I believe that injury combined with all the time he missed played an important role in his decline. Playing the 1-tech is going to require Lissemore to display the strength and power we saw from him back in 2011. If he can hold up strong and not get taken out of the play, he can succeed as the 1-tech.
A lot of the stronger 1-technique defensive tackles are typically two-down players that come off the field in nickel and dime situations for another pass rusher who can generate pressure and get after the quarterback. Kiffin would have the option of bringing in another pass rusher or keeping Lissemore on the field.
Kiffin could play Lissemore at the 3-technique as well, but right now he's got Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher to work that spot on his line. Lissemore would probably be best seeing more playing time as the 1-technique, that way his combination of power and pass rushing would help balance out the defensive line. This line still needs another pass rusher, but Kiffin does have a good rotation already in place.
I believe that Lissemore is going to come back strong in 2013 and thrive in his new role in Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. Over the course of his brief career in Dallas, Lissemore has thrived in his role as a rotational defensive lineman who came in and offered a spark to either nose tackle or defensive end. I don't know if he will be the starting 1-tech, but at worst Lissemore can be a highly versatile defensive lineman who plays an important role in a defensive line rotation.