A: Great question! While we hear these terms during the year in broadcasts, articles and interviews, they kind of get lost in the mix and aren’t discussed as much. When the draft comes around these are the terms we hear most about and definitely become much of the focus. The reason why they become so important during the draft process is they really can help define a player, and highlight the areas that they are good at and also where they might struggle. Just labeling a player an outside linebacker, defensive tackle, wide receiver, etc. isn’t really good enough anymore because different teams run different schemes and ask different things of a particular position. Here are some quick explanations on some various terms you might hear:
“3 tech” : Techniques are basically where the defensive linemen line-up in relation to the offensive linemen. The 3 tech is probably the most common one you hear, but “0 tech” and “5 tech” are also popular as well. For the 3 tech, it’s saying that the defensive lineman is lining up on the outside shoulder of the guard in front of him. The idea is that he can attack the gap between the guard and tackle and get quick penetration. 0 tech is another term for playing nose tackle as you line-up directly over the center. While the 5 tech is for defensive ends who play directly over the offensive tackle. Traditionally the 3 tech is associated with 4-3 defenses and 0 and 5 tech with 3-4 defenses, but nowadays we see plenty of hybrid fronts, that you don’t necessarily want to pigeon hole the tech’s with a particular defense.
“2 gap” : 2 gap defensive linemen or 1 gap defensive linemen, refer to the responsibilities of a defensive lineman on a given play. The gaps are reference to the space between the various offensive linemen. These are typically closely associated with the techniques, as where you line-up better fits your ability to control one or two gaps. If a DT is lined up in the 0 tech position (right over the center) they have a better chance of being able to control the gaps between the center and each guard, than if they were lined up shaded to one side. Now some defenses still have their defenders play straight up on a lineman (either 0, 2, or 5 tech) but only are asked to control one gap, so they aren’t exclusively linked, but there is a connection between the assignment and alignment of the defender usually.
“Press corner”: Though you maybe wouldn’t think it at first, but the corner position is very complicated at the NFL level. Each team likes to do different things with how they utilize their corners. Press, Off, Bail are just some of the techniques you will hear about corners, and they can all be used with either zone or man coverages. Press is basically what it sounds like where a corner plays the receiver right at the line and presses him to not allow him to get a clean release off the line. Not only can this disrupt timing routes, but it can also give your pass rushers an advantage in getting to the quarterback. Off coverage also is similar to what it sounds like, as the corner will play anywhere between 5-9 yards off (7 is pretty typical) the line of scrimmage. It’s susceptible to short quick passes, but it allows a corner to protect deep and keep plays in front of him. Bail or shuffle technique, a lot of time starts out looking like Press and then the corner bails out and starts running back. The difference here is the corner remains facing the quarterback and is lined up to the side. This means the corner doesn’t completely have to turn around to run deep and you can keep your eyes on the quarterback.
“Hand in the Dirt guy” : Hand in the dirt refers to pass rushers and really the basic difference between 3-4 rush linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends. A guy with his hand in the dirt is rushing from a 3 point stance, and is your typical 4-3 end. Rushing from a two point stance or “Standing up” is your typical rush linebacker. While some guys are able to do both, other pass rushers struggle if asked to switch and start rushing the quarterback a different way. Rushing with your hand in the dirt can help you stay low and get that angle on the edge. Standing up allows for a greater ability to disguise where the rush is coming from. It’s easier to drop into coverage and send another blitzer in your place, or to sell that you are attacking one gap, but then you switch to another one.
A: I think a number of these comparisons and evaluations are dead on, particularly the Bortles, Manziel, Garrapolo and Mettenberger comparisons. I think those are all dead-on, especially with the descriptions that you give. I see some of what you say in the Bridgewater-Brady comparison, but Bridgewaters’ mobility is utilized too much with rollouts and just scrambling around. An older quarterback that comes to mind with Bridgewater is Warren Moon. Both have some speed and athletic ability, but it’s not a part of their game that they rely on. It’s used more to move them around the pocket and buy time. Also, both quarterbacks played in some high octane passing attacks that spread the field. As for the Carr comparison, I see a lot of it as well, but feel that there is maybe too much of a negative connotation with holding on to the ball too long and getting rattled under pressure. The elder Carr just got shell shocked and all his potential went to waste.
This is a really interesting top of the QB class for me, because I think you have some real talent, but there isn’t as much certainty as you’d typically like (and even then those prospects have plenty of question marks). Bortles probably has the highest upside, Bridgewater is perhaps the safest, and Manziel is the biggest playmaker of the bunch. Carr is a guy who grades well in all three areas, but doesn’t seem like the best in any one area. I think with those four guys you have, four worthy first round selections. They aren’t perfect picks, but they have enough value to make them worthy of say a top 20 spot. I like Mettenberger as a guy who will need to redshirt a year, as either a late 2nd to early 3rd round selection. Garrapolo I’m not as sold on, because I think he’s still raw in some areas and will fit in certain systems. I like him overall, but I don’t see him as a good value for a top 75 pick.
A: Gilmore definitely helped himself with a strong East-West Shrine Week and some nice production as a late add to the Senior Bowl. While his Shrine week was nice, it was what he did Senior Bowl week that really opened my eyes with him. Gilmore wasn’t added until Wednesday’s practice (the last full contact one of the week), but made his presence known right off the bat. Gilmore showed a nice job getting separation from linebackers in passing drills, and was really strong as a blocker as well. Then to go out there in the game and make some nice plays, with limited practice reps during the week was the icing on the cake for Gilmore. He really made me go back and watch more of him, and he’s a guy who should continue to trend upwards.
A: I’m probably a bit more bullish than most with the ILB group this year. It might not be as strong as last year, but I think you have more than a few guys who will be starters within a year or two. The instincts of this group of guys seems to be off the charts and it can help make up for some of the other issues with this group. As for OLB’s moving inside there definitely could be a couple, but probably not any guys in the first 3 rounds. A couple mid-late rounders who could make the switch are Christian Kirksey, Jordan Tripp and Tyler Starr.
Most of the free agent class look to be better run stoppers, but a couple guys like Donald Butler, Wesley Woodyard, Karlos Dansby and Darryl Smith do well in coverage.
A: I don’t expect either player to have a particularly strong 40 time, but really that is’t going to be the drill that matters most for them when the Combine rolls around. How quickly they change direction will be a far better indicator of whether or not they have the athleticism to cover TE’s and backs at the next level. I think both players have exceptional instincts and play recognition which allows them to play faster than they actually are. As for Bullough, I do think the suspension and the extra weight have hurt him some, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world for him. Even with the added weight he played well during the Shrine week, so if he can drop 15-20 lbs he should project to be even better. There was some talk about why Bullough missed the Rose Bowl, but no real concrete rumors that I’ve heard.
A: At the beginning of the year corner looked like a far stronger position. Unfortunately you had multiple top rated corners struggle this year, and as you mentioned Ekpre-Olomu going back to school and Colvin tearing his ACL. Now the top of the draft board is very thin, with maybe four guys worthy of top 2 round consideration (more will go that high, they just aren’t as deserving). What saves this corner class is just the sheer depth of mid-late round talent. There are a lot of interesting guys who could be targeted in that 3rd-5th round range, they might not offer much immediate help, but they have nice long term potential.
I would put Stanley Jean-Baptiste first, with then a fair gap between the next couple of guys, Desir McGill and Cockrell who I think are closely ranked. Then I have another gap and have Aikens and Lawson in roughly the same range. I think Jean-Baptiste is the safest bet for a day one starter, though I would hardly call it a lock that he is. Cockrell might be the next most NFL ready, but probably isn’t a starter off the bat. Lawson could see earlier action than some of the others given that he is a better fit for the slot corner role, which could allow him to play earlier.