I had originally written this post several weeks ago (early Jan). I suspected Kampman would be made into an OLB (in the mold of Mike Vrabel). Now that we know that this is apparently where he’ll play for sure (read here for more), check out some of the following line-up possibilities – I’ve taken into consideration free agent options here. Who do you think will start for our front 7 this year?
- 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, James Farrior, Barnett, Chillar;
- 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Kampman, Ray Lewis, Barnett, Hawk
- 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Jason Taylor, Barnett, Karlos Dansby, Kampman
- Pickett, BJ Raji (read here from Boston College), Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Farrior, Suggs
- 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Kampman, draft pick like Ray Maualuga from USC (Pmenadue’s suggestion), Barnett, Chillar
- 3=Jenkins, Pickett, Jolly; 4=Suggs, Dansby, Barnett, Kampman
- 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Kampman, Barnett, Suggs
- 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, D Bishop, Barnett, Hawk
- 3=Chris Canty, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Dansby, Farrior, Barnett
- 3=Chris Canty, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Barnett, Bishop, Suggs
- 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Dansby, Barnett, Jason Taylor
- 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, D Bishop, Barnett, Suggs
- 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Hawk, Suggs
- 3=Pickett, new huge fat guy through draft, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Mike Peterson, Suggs
Trade the guys who are left off, or just use them as back-ups. For those questioning the idea of putting Kampman at OLB, consider that Mike Vrabel, OLB for the NE Patriots is also 6’4″ in the 260s – and that Kampman filling gaps as a LB might be really helpful for stopping the run. (Though I’d even consider putting Kampman at ILB between two speedy players like Barnett and Chillar.) Anyway, we need better talent in this front 7 than we have presently, but we don’t need 7 new guys. We need 2-3 new guys to step in and I think there will be some decent options in free agency.
Imagine a defense that would have Aaron Kampman lining up as an OLB on the same side as Julius Peppers – only to have Terrell Suggs and Jenkins coming at you from the other side while Barnett and/or James Farrior or Ray Lewis or Bart Scott or Desmond Bishop or Karlos Dansby man the middle. Then, imagine a QB having less than a second to figure out where to throw the ball while Woodson and Collins are just waiting for an interception to run back. Throw in a few nasty hits by Atari Bigby (or a free agent safety like Leonhard, Dawkins or Atogwe) and blanket coverage by Al Harris and suddenly, we’re the Green Bay Steelers.
Anyway, I’m getting out of control here but my point is this: there are lots of ways to go as far as staffing this 3-4 and I am excited for it. In fact, I have decided to go on record here guaranteeing that the 2009 defense will be a top 12 defense.
UPDATE: Bad news for me. I just learned that James Farrior, a guy I thought would look great next to Nick Barnett in a 3-4 line-up, apparently signed a contract extension with Pittsburgh in August – a 5 year deal for a 34 year old player. That’s how good this guy is. Too bad.