With Chip Kelly's introductory press conference in the books, the new Eagles head coach's next order of business is to find himself a defensive coordinator. The names being floated on the rumor river -- Georgia's Todd Grantham and Alabama's Kirby Smart -- have something in common: the preference for the 3-4 alignment.
Now it's no slam dunk that Kelly is going to insist on the 3-4, but based on what Oregon ran (an attacking hybrid 3-4) and the coaches being linked to him, it's not a stretch to assume he prefers that spacing scheme. So assuming that, and taking a look at who the Eagles already have on board, and how they may fit into a 3-4 defense, it opens up more possibilities for Kelly and the Eagles at the No. 4 pick.
A successful 3-4 defense is predicated on speed from the outside and bulk on the inside. The defense, when run well, causes confusion along offensive lines because of the myriad of angles and players who may be coming up the field or dropping into coverage on any given snap. Do the Eagles have the personnel to run the defense? Not entirely.
They're certainly lacking a nose tackle who is big enough to hold up against constant double teams and control two gaps. Last year's first round pick, Fletcher Cox, doesn't have the bulk to play the position, and their largest DT, Antonio Dixon, can't be relied on because of his injury history. This is going to be a priority, either in the draft or in free agency.
The Eagles do have suitable personnel, in Cox, Cullen Jenkins, and Cedric Thornton, to man the defensive ends spots in the 3-4. Unlike the 4-3, the DE in a 3-4 is not generally a pass rusher, but someone who, like the NT, can control two gaps, hold his ground, and hopefully get off a block to make a play. It's not a glamorous position (ask Albert Haynesworth), but you can become a star playing it (see Richard Seymour and J.J. Watt).
The glamor position in a 3-4 defense is the outside linebacker. These are the guys who make life miserable for the quarterbacks. Ideally, the OLB will have an explosive first step and enough strength and bulk to engage OTs. The Eagles have two players, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, who could be fits here, but since neither of them have a lot of experience playing from a two-point stance (let alone as a LB), it's an iffy proposition. Graham certainly has the speed and explosion and need only look at his fellow Michigan alum Lamarr Woodley to see that it's possible to make the transition. This is a position the Eagles will have to look to address in the draft if they make the switch, because you can never have enough speed on the outside.
The inside linebackers in a 3-4, like the MLBs in 4-3 defenses, are the captains of the ship. What they do affects everyone else. They need to be smart, tough, and able to hold up against the run and shed blockers. While DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are nice enough players, neither showed an ability to get off blocks particularly well in 2012. I even pointed this out when the Eagles drafted the speedy Kendricks. I doubt either of them have the bulk to hold up and be effective in a 3-4. This is also an area the Birds will have to focus on in the off-season.
So with solid candidates at DE, and some question marks everywhere else in the front seven, what options do the Eagles have at pick No. 4 if they choose to go to the 3-4?
1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Lotulelei is massive (6-3320) with strength to match his size. His quick hands and stoutness against the run make him an ideal 3-4 NT.
Moore played DE for the Aggies but has a terrific burst off the ball and the ability to drop his shoulders and turn the corner. Has ideal size for the position (6-4250).
3. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones (6-2242) played in Grantham's 3-4 defense, so he's already familiar with the scheme. A top notch pass rusher (14.5 sacks in 2012), the only concern with Jones his medical history (spinal stenosis).
4. Barkevious Mingo, DEOLB, LSU
A hybrid DEOLB, Mingo (6-4240) is lightning fast off the edge. It's worrisome that his production fell off in 2012, but his physical talent is unquestioned.
5. Bjoern Werner, DEOLB, Florida State
The German national is one of my favorite players in the draft. Relentless player who would be making the transition to LB. Has the strength and speed to be outstanding.
6. Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
You never know, but Kelly's familiarity with Jordan could come into play. Jordan is long (6-6243) and quick up the field. Might be a reach, but could pay off big.
Some other players to look for in the second round:
1. Corey Lemonier, OLB, Auburn -- Pure pass rusher who's production dropped off a bit in 2012 after an All-SEC First team performance in 2011.
2. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama -- Australian native is big and incredibly strong.
3. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame -- You never know how far this scandal will drop the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
4. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue -- Hot and cold, Short has the physical tools to dominate in the middle.
5. Margus Hunt, DE, SMU -- The Estonian track star has become a force at DE. Big and athletic enough to be a difference-maker at end.
Jared Sherman has been providing CSNPhilly.com with draft analysis since 2000. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Phillyjared.