After reading the good summary on the home page of a traditional 3-4 I thought I would add a few thoughts on the ILB and the NT. I think there are a few things to think about when looking at potential picks in the draft. I hear a lot of talk from all over about draft value and what the Cards should pick and honestly I wonder if they have ever seen the Cardinals play. The picks just do not fit the Cardinals. Sometimes we as fans fall into the same trap, and think that some LB would be a great pick because he is athletic. The better question is do they fit what we do, or are they so talented that the Cardinals should adjust what they do to fit some outstanding talent. Case in point: We know a classic 3-4 DE is tall and big. Campbell fits better than Dockett. But Davis has adjusted the 3-4 to fit Dockett. Watch on passing downs, Dockett moves over the guard and playes the 3 technique where he excels and that is why he gets sacks. They did the same with Dansby. He was poor against the run but good against the pass, so the adjusted. If a player is that talented you adjust, but I would think you would draft for the ideal. Here is a look at the NT and ILB in the 3-4.
NT: Weight is important but equally important is pad level and leverage. 340lb and 6-6 may not be a good NT if they are unable to keep thier pads low and maintain leverage against blocking. Think Alan Branch. That is why Robinson started. He wasn't the heaviest by a long stretch, he just could keep leverage better than the others. When looking at prospective draft NT think size but also leverage. Linval Joseph may not be a good NT because he is 6-5 but a 6-3 Williams is a stump inside even though he is only 327. Look at tape of Cody and watch his pad level for the first 5 seconds of the play. When he gets lazy his pads come up but when he is dominant he keeps his pads low. Then compare to Branch when he was at NT. He instantly stood up at the snap. Leverage! So who fits the Cardinals in the draft? Williams, Cody, Thomas, Troup, Ross, Udofia, Maybe Joseph.
ILB: I won't review the difference between the Mike and Will ILB. Davis likes to have the OLB not switch so they simply become left and right OLB. I think he would like to have the ILB not switch either. An ILB in a 3-4 lines up over the guard and has to deal with bulk inside more than MLB in a 4-3. Consequently he has to be bigger (as a rule) and good at gap reads. He regualrly has to fight through an interior lineman and sometimes a full back as well. Blazing speed is not traditonally needed on the 3-4 ILB because he has more help outside in contain and flows from the inside out to fill cut back gaps. There has to be a mentality about a 3-4 ILB where he likes the fighting and the contact in the box. That was Dansby's weakness. He avoided blocks intead of fighting through. Ali Highsmith is a weakside OLB in a 4-3. And that is why he ended up on the practice squad. Size, run stopper, with the ability to flow into pass zones. He doesn't have to be a good man-on-man guy across the field although Dansby was. So who fits this in the draft? McClain (he is such an ideal ILB it is almost sickening), Spikes (watch film and don't let his slow 40 throw you), Muckelroy (I really like his play), maybe Weatherspoon (go back and watch regular season tape on him. He is good but he sometimes did not work well in traffic and at 239 he is a little light), M. Johnson (a beast against the run 6-2 258), Eric Norwood (played both OLB and DE in college and never missed a game in 4 years), Butler, Dillard. Notice Lee and Washington are not on the list. Washington is talented but at 229 he is simply too light. Sure he might gain 15-20 pounds with Lott but in college he only played at 234 so you are running a risk and hoping he will get to a weight he has never played at before. Lee is an average 4-3 MLB. I actualy like Angerer over Lee. Angerer is faster and that would benefit on special teams, which is where I think both would end up playing their career.