View Full Version : BIG BLUEPRINT: Stockpiling DEs not a bad idea

02-18-2008, 05:30 PM
FOR THOSE who think drafting a DE early... Like Philip Mearling (Clemson)... Read this article from ESPN.COM.

NOW... I'm not advocating this move... but... if it happens... This might explain why!

In wake of Giants' success, watch teams stockpile speed rushers

Two weeks ago at University of Phoenix Stadium, the New York Giants made the perfect quarterback look imperfect.

As New England Patriots passer Tom Brady took hit after hit and got sacked five times, 30 other teams were taking notes and thinking about the future. The Super Bowl rings the Giants will get in a few months will be their reminder of victory, but a prolific pass rush might end up being this team's legacy.

The NFL long has been a copycat league, with the 3-4 defense and the zone blitz taking turns as popular trends in recent years. But New York might have shown that the purest and most productive way to fluster a quarterback is the old-fashioned way. Take a speedy defensive end -- or, in the case of the Giants, two or three -- and just turn him or them loose.

It sounds easy enough in theory, but there's a reason the Giants made it work to perfection. They've done a masterful job of stockpiling speedy and athletic defensive ends and getting them on the field, even if they're not all lining up at defensive end. The value of that became obvious in the playoff run and unquestionable in the Super Bowl.

Although a lot of other teams have been content for years to go with one strong pass-rushing defensive end, an ordinary starter on the other side and a couple of mediocre backups, New York has made it a priority to load up on true pass-rushers and not worry much about their ability to stop the run.

In the past five drafts, the Giants have selected six guys who have played defensive end in college. All six of them were prolific pass-rushers in college. Not all have worked out, and not all have stayed at defensive end, but that philosophy still has given New York an uncommon pass rush.

The Giants got 32 sacks in the 2007 regular season from starters Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora and backup Justin Tuck, who also plays inside at times. Give plenty of credit to coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese for making the most of this talent, but don't give them all the credit for acquiring it.

Coughlin took over in 2004, and Reese came on board before last season. Former GM Ernie Accorsi and former coach Jim Fassel started collecting defensive ends back in 2003 when they drafted Umenyiora to go with Strahan.

At the time, a lot of teams would have viewed having bookend pass-rushers as a luxury. But the Giants didn't stop there. In Coughlin's first two drafts with New York, the Giants took four more players who were prolific pass rushers in college. They took Isaac Hilton and Reggie Torbor in 2004 and Tuck and Eric Moore in 2005.

Hilton and Moore are no longer with the team, but Tuck's versatility has made him a fixture in the defensive line rotation and Torbor made a smooth transition to linebacker. New York really seemed to go overboard on defensive ends in 2006 when it used its first-round pick on Mathias Kiwanuka.

The Giants played Kiwanuka as a backup defensive end as a rookie before moving him to outside linebacker before the 2007 season. Kiwanuka went down with a season-ending leg injury in November. But New York still had a strong pass rush from Torbor and the defensive ends. It also helped tremendously in the Super Bowl when the interior linemen were collapsing the pocket and making Brady run into Strahan, Tuck and Umenyiora.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was in his first season in that role, and he helped the pass rush get stronger late in the season. It should only continue to get better. Strahan is nearing the end of his career, but the Giants have enough defensive ends and converted defensive ends on their roster to survive that and stay strong up front for years to come. But don't be at all surprised if Coughlin uses another draft pick (or two) on a defensive end this year.

And don't be surprised if a lot of other teams start trying to follow the lead of the Giants. Virginia's Chris Long, Clemson's Phillip Merling, Florida's Derrick Harvey, Ohio State's Vernon Gholston and Southern California's Lawrence Jackson all fit the mold of pass-rushing defensive ends. Long, Gholston and Merling are viewed as likely first-round picks, Jackson and Harvey as guys who could go late in the first round or early in the second round.

But those are early predictions. Starting Wednesday and continuing through Feb. 26 in Indianapolis, the league must go through the scouting combine and individual workouts. That could push five or six defensive ends into the first round as the rest of the league gives more thought to how the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Pat Yasinskas covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

The Caped Crusader
02-18-2008, 05:34 PM
I would love to see Denver have a great pass rush. But right now our DEs (Dumervil, Moss, Crowder, Ekuban and Engelberger) are sufficient when you look at the other needs the team has.

02-18-2008, 05:50 PM
I'd love to see Denver draft a DE, just not Merling......

02-18-2008, 05:51 PM
We will likely draft a defensive end, in the 5th round! ;)

02-18-2008, 05:54 PM
We have got a very deep DE crew... I would just about hang myself if we drafted a DE real early in the draft. If we can get pressure from the middle of our line, the tackles... Everything else will fall into place. It'll take pressure off of our smaller pass rushing ends, allow the linebackers and corners to really do their work.

Fix the DT, fix the defense.

02-18-2008, 05:57 PM
I hear every team is going to try and stockpile DE's.

In light of the SuperBowl victory, there is speculation that new schemes, featuring a new 4 DE "spread" look, will be implemented to get more consistent pressure on the QB. I hear the S position is a dying breed in the the NFL.

02-18-2008, 05:58 PM
Kendall Langford in round 5!

02-18-2008, 06:24 PM
Take a chance on Tommy Blake in the 5th round, hell, he may fall even further......

02-18-2008, 06:55 PM
Weren't we actually the ones to try something like this first in the Indy game? IIRC, I saw the Giants first use the 4 DE formation right after that game. The formation worked for us initially until Indy figured out that it could just run up the middle, and we couldn't adjust to that.

I think if the Pats hadn't been as arrogant about continuing to try and pass in the face of heavy pressure, and had actually tried to run the ball more, we wouldn't have been talking so much about this scheme.

I think we already have the personnel to run a 4 DE formation should we choose to. We already have stockpiled pass-rushers (we have no less than four in Moss, Elvis, Crowder, and Ekuban).

I don't like the idea of a DE in the first, but if he's an elite talent and warrants selection as BPA, then I could probably live with it.

02-18-2008, 08:08 PM
If having so many good defensive ends is the answer, why did the Giants suck last year? they didn't add any good defensive ends in the free agency and in fact they moved former first round pick Kiwanuka to linebacker. So the premise of this article is clearly wrong.

The big difference between the Giants who won the super bowl and the Giants of a year ago who sucked is secondary. The Giants had a woeful secondary a year ago, they couldn't cover anybody. They upped their secondary in the offseason, that is why they had success.

A good pass rush helps, but without a good secondary it is useless as the Giants have proven to the league. I know that a lot of quacks are going to look at the Giants and say, oh they won with defensive ends, but that is just not true. This article is an example of go home and do it again.

02-19-2008, 01:43 PM
FUNNY THING: DENVER tried to use 4 DEs (in that game in Indy)... Didn't work right!