On Saturday we discussed the overall rankings for the 4-3 defensive tackles available in the 2013 NFL Draft. But given all of the discussion centering around the Dallas Cowboys hiring Monte Kiffin and moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, we're going to take it a step further and divide the prospects into 1-techniques and 3-techniques.
Before we jump into the rankings, let's sort out some of the terminology first. All of this 1-technique and 3-technique stuff can be a little confusing, but when you look at it closely, it's really not that complicated. Most of the terminology you see on the defensive line comes from where the players line up across from the offensive lineman.
The 1-technique is lined up on the center and will shade or align himself on either shoulder of the center. Playing in that spot on the defensive line requires size and strength because of the double teams you will see from the center and the guard. The main focus is to take up space and maintain their gap assignment. You won't see a lot of eye-popping statistics from the 1-technique because it's really not their job to attack up the field, but they play a very important job on the defense and open up plays for the lineman and linebackers around them.
When I evaluate potential 1-technique defensive tackles, I look for size, strength and quickness. They don't have to be extremely fast, but they should show some natural athletic ability and quickness to their game. Usually these prospects are great at stuffing the run, but they still need to have some pass rushing ability.
The 3-technique lines up between the guard and tackle and will shade over either side of the guard's shoulder. Most of the time the 3-technique will get a one-on-one matchup with the guard. Usually their job is to win that matchup and shoot the gap and get into the backfield. While the 1-technique needs to be large and strong, the 3-technique is usually lighter and quicker because their game is based off of speed. It's much harder to find the 3-technique because of the athleticism that is required to play the position.
When I evaluate potential 3-technique defensive tackles, I am looking for a good motor, quickness and pass rushing ability. Size isn't really a big issue because those other attributes are far more important to the success of an effective 3-technique tackle.
|1-Technique 4-3 Defensive Tackle Rankings
|Missouri Southern State
The 1-technique is a very important position on the defense, but I don't believe the Cowboys should be spending a first round pick to find a player who would probably be getting off the field on third down passing situations. It's a position that requires some pass rushing ability, but not as much as the 3-technique. Star Lotulelei is a unique player that can be a handful, so he would be worth the investment, but he's a potential top-five pick.
Hankins would be great at the 1-technique role, but do you really want invest a high draft pick in a player who has some serious question marks and is not going to be a game changer? Jesse Williams does offer you a lot of upside and he could grow into a more complete player, but he would be another risky selection high in the first round. John Jenkins is massive, but offers you very little disruption and pass rushing ability.
Brandon Williams would be a fantastic selection in the second round because he has the size and athleticism to grow into a very disruptive player. Regardless, the Cowboys would better off investing their first round pick on a 3-technique who can offer more disruption in a four-man front.
|3-Technique 4-3 Defensive Tackle Rankings
We've discussed Sheldon Richardson and he seems to be a favorite for the Cowboys at 18. He may not last that long, but if he does, then the Cowboys should thank their lucky stars because Richardson can come in and really bring a disruptive and physical presence on the interior of their line.
Kawann Short is another great option for the Cowboys at 18. Short may not be going in the first round of many mock drafts right now, but that could change in a few weeks. Not only can Short play the 3-technique, he could also play the 1-technique and become a versatile player that you can move around the defensive line.
There seems to be a divide on the opinion of whether Sharrif Floyd will be a highly productive NFL player. There is some inconsistency to his game and the game tape shows that, but Floyd is a phenomenal athlete that has a lot of upside. He looks like a very solid option for Dallas in the first round.
Sylvester Williams is similar to Short in the aspect that he can play both techniques. The Cowboys do crave for versatility, so it will be interesting to see where he is ranked on their board. If he does fall to the second round, then he would be a great value at that stage in the draft.
One of my sleeper candiates at the defensive tackle position is Penn State's Jordan Hill. He lacks size and strength, but his agility, relentless style and first step are the type of attributes you look for in a disruptive defensive tackle. Hill has flown under the radar so far, but he could be a great option for the Cowboys in the third round.
This is shaping up to be one of the deepest and most talented defensive tackle classes in recent memory. There is a lot of serious talent at the top of the board, but this is also a very deep class that will offer legitimate talent after the first couple of rounds. Whether it's 1-tech or 3-tech, this draft will offer the opportunity to address either position.