Recent Hybrid DE’s Crash and Burn After Transition to 3-4 OLB

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It has become vogue to take a college 4-3 defensive end and refashion him into a 3-4 outside linebacker. While there are examples of this method of transition working, for example, DeMarcus Ware and LaMarr Woodley, recent transitions have failed miserably. Every NFL coach has an ego, and believes he can shape and contour players into a particular mold. This act of over confidence has backfired in recent years.

Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com quoted an personnel executive as to saying:

"Teams are taking more ‘fliers’ on these guys — kind of like they used to with 4-3 tackles when everyone seemed to have a need there — and they’re crashing and burning"

The exec also referenced the recent failures of Vernon Gholston, Larry English, Aaron Maybin, and Robert Ayers. I think there are a few keys to this process in order to be successful at it.

1. Pick players that fit your scheme and foster them. Allow them the time to effectively make the jump from one position to another, without forcing them onto the field too soon. This key factor is why the Pittsburgh Steelers have been so successful with their hybrid outside linebackers. They handle them in a manner that has the teams and players best interest at heart.

2. Stay away from workout warriors who are athletic freaks, as much as possible. Those are the guys to be weary of, the ones who come into the Combine and wow the pants off of you, but did not do so consistently on tape.

3. Do your due diligence and make game tape your number one selling point. Do not fall in love with the offseason stats. Game footage tells no lies.

Teams will need to show restraint and remain patient with these types of players. Rushing a player onto the field, who is playing a new position, against a level of competition he has never seen before is not a good idea. It never is, and it never will be.