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Outside Linebackers


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#1 DrDareustein

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:14 AM

Now that we have the DL all shored up, and a decent amount of talent in the DBs, the question comes down to Linebackers. Specifically, Outside Linebackers in the 43.

I believe the team is planning on having Barnett and Morrison start as our OLBs. No doubt we need to find their replacements soon. But looking around the league, it's difficult to pin down what a prototypical 43 OLB is nowadays.

When I looked at the Pro-Bowl roster from 2011, most of the OLBs are from the 34 (Suggs, Wake, Phillips, Ware, and Orakpo). They are all basically DEs in the 43. The only 43 OLB named was Beason.

So my questions to you Linebacker experts are:

What are we looking for in a 43 OLB?
Who are the current examples in the NFL?
Which draft prospects look like they will be 43 OLBs?

Edited by DrDareustein, 17 March 2012 - 10:21 AM.


#2 ARMchairgm

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:24 AM

View PostDrDareustein, on 17 March 2012 - 10:14 AM, said:

Now that we have the DL all shored up, and a decent amount of talent in the DBs, the question comes down to Linebackers. Specifically, Outside Linebackers in the 43.

I believe the team is planning on having Barnett and Morrison start as out OLBs. No doubt we need to be finding their replacements soon. But looking around the league, it's difficult to pin down what a prototypical 43 OLB is.

When I looked at the Pro-Bowl roster from 2011, most of the OLBs are from the 34 (Suggs, Wake, Phillips, Ware, and Orakpo). They are all basically DEs in the 43. The only 43 OLB named was Beason.

So my questions to you Linebacker experts are:

What are we looking for in a 43 OLB?
Who are the current examples in the NFL?
Which draft prospects look like they will be 43 OLBs?


zack brown, ronnell lewis, sean spence.

then you got the tweeners like mercilus, perry, curry. who could possibly play at de/olb as well.

then you got inside lbs that could possibly play outside like luke k, burfict.



seems like wannsted wants speed at the lb position

#3 NoSaint

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:35 AM

Strong and weak will have different duties. I'm on my phone so im not going to breakdown each.  There are some good resources and looking at other 43 teams you can get good starts. If you have specific questions it might be easier to address.

#4 LynchMob23

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:50 AM

For Coach W OLBs should be between 230 and 245 pounds, able to run and cover and play well in space. Really, they're the cleanup guys so height isn't a factor (see his favorite MLB Zach Thomas) just instincts and athletic ability. The line is where the most resources money and roster wise (he typically wants a 7-9 man rotation) go.

#5 Buffaloed in Pa

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:55 AM

View PostARMchairgm, on 17 March 2012 - 10:24 AM, said:

zack brown, ronnell lewis, sean spence.

then you got the tweeners like mercilus, perry, curry. who could possibly play at de/olb as well.

then you got inside lbs that could possibly play outside like luke k, burfict.



seems like wannsted wants speed at the lb position
Burfict and his 5.09 forty ? He will Not play outside.  We will draft smaller quicker olbs for the 4-3. Zach Brown size .Maybe not short but lighter quicker types.

#6 playman

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:59 AM

think strong safety-type players. little more height though. and zack thomas was an exeption. not the rule. like london.

with us we have to get guys in able to cover gronk

#7 JR in Pittsburgh

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:09 AM

Great topic.

I have no idea, but when I think of the perfect 4-3 OLB, I think of Takeo Spikes. Man, I wished that worked out...

#8 ARMchairgm

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:13 AM

View PostBuffaloed in Pa, on 17 March 2012 - 10:55 AM, said:

Burfict and his 5.09 forty ? He will Not play outside.  We will draft smaller quicker olbs for the 4-3. Zach Brown size .Maybe not short but lighter quicker types.

he ran slow but he's fast on tape.

#9 DefenseWinzChampionshipz

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:46 AM

I believe from what I heard Morrison was going to back up Sheppard at MLB so maybe we might try him out at OLB and under Wannstedt and the 4-3 he might be able to contribute.

All I know is just as Buddy said, a couple years ago we had many holes to fill and couldn't pin point which one was more important. Now, we can easily determine our area of needs so based on that alone, we're headed in the right direction.

#10 John Cocktosten

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:13 PM

Wanny plays an "over" 4-3 which is the same defense that Jimmy Johnson brought to he great Hurricane teams and then later to the Cowboys.  

This article tells you all that you need to know about the defense and the personnel that the Bills are going to use.  Dareus and KW are going to dominate inside next year!  
http://www.shakinthe...ver-slide-front

#11 John from Hemet

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:26 PM

To understand what the OLB in a 43 are you have to first understand what the responsibilities are for the down linemen......ity

a THREE FOUR the linebackers generate the pass rush and the down linemen are big space eaters that tie up blockers......your OLB's in a THREE FOUR also have more responsibility to set the outside "edges" in run support....so your OLB's in a THREE FOUR then to be bigger stouter guys

in a FOUR THREE your you have one extra down linemen.....it is THIER responsibility to create the pass rush......and the 3 linbackers behind them have to be athletic, good cover guys that can move and play well in space.....so your OLB's tend to be be smaller

This is why we are going to a four three....our personnel (and our DC coach hire) dictate it......

The strength of our team (prior to the Mario signing) was our pass rushing DT's......with Kyle and Marcel you have beastly interior pass rushers....you also back them up with some guys like Heard (Troup the jury is still out) so you have DEPTH there

What we did NOT have was quality and depth at the DE position which now becomes vital in the edge pass rush.......the signing of Mario makes this defensive line absolutley beastly.......and the LB's playing behind them will benefit from that

#12 DefenseWinzChampionshipz

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:48 PM

View PostJohn Cocktosten, on 17 March 2012 - 12:13 PM, said:

Wanny plays an "over" 4-3 which is the same defense that Jimmy Johnson brought to he great Hurricane teams and then later to the Cowboys.  

This article tells you all that you need to know about the defense and the personnel that the Bills are going to use.  Dareus and KW are going to dominate inside next year!  
http://www.shakinthe...ver-slide-front

Great article. Can you send a link where Wannstedt confirms to playing the "over" please?
If we are to be playing the over, according to the article we're going to really only need one true MLB known as the "Mic".
I highly doubt Sheppard fits that Bill this year. Maybe Barnett can fill that role.
OLBs in the over system are 6 foot to 6'2 190-210 lbs. But as long as they're fast they can bulk up. There's plenty of those "type" of players coming out in this year's draft so it shouldn't be a problem filling the OLB positions this year.

Just think. When the whole league is focusing on becoming a 3-4 defense, what if the Bills have a heads up on the shift that's about to take place in the NFL in the recent years to come and become one of the smartest and dominant defenses?

Edited by DefenseWinzChampionshipz, 17 March 2012 - 12:54 PM.


#13 JPS

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:59 PM

View PostJohn Cocktosten, on 17 March 2012 - 12:13 PM, said:

Wanny plays an "over" 4-3 which is the same defense that Jimmy Johnson brought to he great Hurricane teams and then later to the Cowboys.  

This article tells you all that you need to know about the defense and the personnel that the Bills are going to use.  Dareus and KW are going to dominate inside next year!  
http://www.shakinthe...ver-slide-front
Good article on defensive alignments.  Based on that, is Sheppard elite enough to be the Mike? Seems more like a Hightower....I need to check te Bills website to check our LBs size to see who matches up to a traditional SAM or Will LB. I assume Barnett is the SAM, but I dunno. It's new to me.

I really liked that article.  I knew our LBs sucked, but now I can tell HOW they suck.

#14 DrDareustein

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:03 PM

Awesome responses, guys. This was the type of convo I was hoping to spark, and why I left the OP sorta vague.

Sounds like we need to re-sign Bryan Scott (at the right price), and bring him in to cover TEs with some Safety help. Especially against NE.

Good reminder about Spikes. It's been so long since we have ran a "Man's 43" all I could remember about OLBs was Ellison from that wimpy Tampa-2.

I like Perry and Curry in the draft, but not high on Luke Kuechly, and hate the idea of wasting anything higher than a 6th on Burfict.

Appreciate John and John stopping by, keep the info coming. I know jboyst will be around too  :thumbsup:

#15 billsfan in n.h

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:04 PM

View PostJR In Ann Arbor, on 17 March 2012 - 11:09 AM, said:

Great topic.

I have no idea, but when I think of the perfect 4-3 OLB, I think of Takeo Spikes. Man, I wished that worked out...
i wish i knew how to post you tube video's. his sack of Brady in the first play from scrimage is a thing of beauty :worthy:

#16 JStranger76

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:11 PM

Just one thing, yes, most of the time quicker and faster LBers tend to be a little smaller, but they don't HAVE to be. I know they are rare, but a LB who is big AND fast is just a nice bonus for this scheme. Sorry, I was having a terrible Cover 2 flash back! We don't have to get "small" at LB people.

#17 DrDareustein

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:14 PM

View PostJStranger76, on 17 March 2012 - 01:11 PM, said:

Just one thing, yes, most of the time quicker and faster LBers tend to be a little smaller, but they don't HAVE to be. I know they are rare, but a LB who is big AND fast is just a nice bonus for this scheme. Sorry, I was having a terrible Cover 2 flash back! We don't have to get "small" at LB people.

Anyone think/know if Curry or Perry are fast enough at their size?

I could look up 40 times, but Im more interested with on-field speed. People call Upshaw slow, but Ive watched him chase down RBs sideline to sideline for years.

#18 JPS

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:15 PM

In reading the article, unless I am mistaken, the SAM just has to be big and fast. Not an elite talent, but an semi-ordinary DE Lite with speed. So, Curry fits the bill, as does Branch.  Maybe Shea McLellin.  I wouldn't think that guy is on the roster (unless you count....Kelsay...go ahead..throw the wrench at me) The thing that worries me is that Sheppard doesn't have the elite speed and athletic ability to be a monster Mike in a 4-3. The thing that really worries me is just how bad that defense was last year. Do we have ideal fits for ANY of these positions?  They were drafted/signed with a 3-4 in mind.

#19 San Jose Bills Fan

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:15 PM

This Bruce Irvin kid from West Virginia is a serious player.

http://draftbreakdow...vs-clemson-2011

Amazingly at Morgantown he played mostly 3-4 DE but as a linebacker he'll be a holy terror.

He, Keuchly and Zack Brown are among the fastest LBs I've ever seen.

Thing is, #10 is too high for any of them, IMO, so I'm hoping one of them will be available for our 2nd round pick… which may be wishful thinking.

Edited by San Jose Bills Fan, 17 March 2012 - 01:16 PM.


#20 JStranger76

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:20 PM

I don't know if any of the Perry/Curry types have the change of direction skills needed. They might, but I'm just sayin I don't know for sure. I believe Branch tested well in those types of drills if I recall.......