This is my first fan post. As a BTBer, I read a lot of interesting thoughts, opinions, or otherwise on this site and I can tell there is real thought put into most of the conjecture I read here. Well.... most of the time.
Unless you've been asleep for the past 3-4 months, you've read/heard a lot of the discussion surrounding the 3 tech DT position in the 4-3 alignment.
To give a brief overview for those who may not know, or refresher to those who do, a 4-3 defensive alignment contains two defensive tackles and each has a different assignment. If you don't care to read the description, then feel free to skip ahead :)
First, is the "1 Tech". Quite simply, this player lines up in the '1' gap; this is the area between the OC and the OG. This player is meant to be space eater and is generally expected to offer the least pass rushing production of the 4 down lineman and is typically more of a run stuffer. But at the same time, this player must provide enough pass rushing threat to where the OL will double team him more times than not to free up the other DT which is known as a 3 Tech.
The "3 Tech", unlike the 1 tech, will be your more athletic of the 2 DTs. He will line up in the gap between the OT and OG on the other side of the 1 tech DT. He is generally the smaller of the 2, has better pass rushing technique, and is meant to push the pocket to provide consistent pressure on the QB and blow up plays in the backfield. Working in conjunction with a good 1 tech DT, the 3 tech will generally have more 1 on 1 matchups with the OG since the C is typically helping the other OG double the 1 tech.
Working as a pair, you can imagine having 1 elite player at each position can cause chaos for offensive lines and give nightmares to a QB who is getting ready to face them. There is obviously a lot more to both positions, but that was my best attempt at a brief synopsis of what they do.
In this scheme, it's an almost resounding "yes" when asking a coach, player, or fan that 3 tech is the more important of the 2 positions - and that having a world beater like Geno Atkins as your 3 tech will add a world of difference to the pass rush and overall success of the defensive scheme as a whole. While I'm not suggesting otherwise, I'm beginning to wonder if there's more to it than that.
This brings me to a 2014 3 tech prospect named Aaron Donald. I'm not sure running through the highlights of who/what he is, is necessary here because all of us here are well aware of what he would bring in the world of a pass rushing 3 tech in the Marinelli scheme. But I'm wondering if selecting him in the first round would be an optimal beginning to the 2014 selection process for the Cowboys.
To reiterate for a moment, as I under stand it, all things equal, by design, the 3tech DT gets fewer double teams than the 1tech typically based upon where they line up.
Presently, the only true 1 tech on the roster is Nick Hayden and depending on where your opinion falls, Tyrone Crawford could play 1 tech as well. I'm not sold that Crawford will be successful - or even play at - 1tech. I still strongly believe he should play the 3 tech in this scheme primarily with a seldom rotation at SDE with the size and pass rushing techniques we already know he possesses as a player. So that leaves us with Nick Hayden at 1tech - who very seldom requires a double team.
At current state, If the DL continues to have a 1 tech who does not require a double team, then I worry about what the DL will be next year. With the skill levels of NFL OG/C, I'm not convinced Donald (or any DT in this draft) has the size, speed, and technique combination that would be required to overcome the likelihood of frequent double teams.
If Dallas invests a first round pick on what we think is an "elite" pass rushing 3 tech, I can see them missing out on adding the other crucial piece to the DT puzzle, as there may not be any left when it comes that time to address it in the draft. This, serving as a catalyst to a "value added" miss in the pass rush that we all expect Donald would bring. In other words, if we go 3 tech round 1 and miss out on the premium 1 techs available, they won't be able to force the hand of the opposition to double the 1 tech. In this scenario, I can see Donald being largely neutralized.
What?!?!? Donald being.. neutralized? Before you click the 'x' in the corner, hear me out - I'm not being a hater of Donald, I swear.
Please don't think I'm undervaluing the impact of a dominant 3 tech - because I'm not. But I'd venture an educated guess that historically speaking there have been very few (or none) 3 techs that have been successful without an impact 1 tech playing beside him. My contention is that while Aaron Donald may be the best pure pass rushing 3 tech in the upcoming draft and is an ideal fit at 3tech for this scheme, there is comparable pass rushing talent from 3 techs that can be found in rounds 2-5 in the upcoming draft.
So why not just select the best 3 tech, and then move on to focusing on round 2, right?
Well what I'm finding worrisome, is that the same schematic depth in the draft may not be able to be said for 1 tech. I look at a few guys like Louis Nix, Rashede Hageman, Stephon Tuitt, and Timmy Jernigan whom I'm confident could play 1 tech at a good to exceptional level in the NFL - maybe Ego Ferguson as well; with Hageman and Jernigan also having the tools to play 3 as well. Everything after that, I see as a rotational 1 tech for the first 2 years or so.
***To add to this ^^ with the players I've just mentioned at 1 tech, most could fit in a 3-4 as well which puts a higher commodity rating on them across the league, thus perhaps making them be selected earlier due to their versatility***
Looking at 3 tech, obviously there's Donald. But I could make an argument for the following players ending up being every bit as good.
In no particular order:
Ra'Shede Hageman DT Minnesota
Timmy Jernigan DT FSU
Kelcy Quarles DT South Carolina
Anthony Johngson DT LSU
Will Sutton DT Arizona State
Dominique Easly DT Florida
Caraun Reid DT Princeton
Jay Bromley DT Syracuse
Since there will only be x amount of DTs selected, I can see the potential to find a few UDFA gems as well. With that, I pose this question to all of you out there:
In the upcoming draft, where do you see less elite talent, 1 tech or 3 tech? And moreover, is 3 tech the round 1 pick to make?