This is an excerpt from Greg Cosell’s Take: 3-4 and 4-3 concepts more about personnel than defensive fronts. The whole article offers greater insights to the defenses that have evolved in the NFL and the kind of personnel it takes to operate them.
“But in a passing league that places a defensive premium on pressuring the quarterback, the reality is, you have far greater pass rush flexibility and versatility out of 4-3 principles, but with 3-4 personnel. You want more athletic defenders, and you want them aligned in gaps so that they can penetrate more effectively. That’s the key. It’s a tactical combination of personnel and concept.
The weakside defensive end/linebacker is the most critical player in the scheme. He’s the one that’s most difficult to find because of the multiple skill set demanded to play the position well. As already acknowledged, it starts with pass rush. There were seasons under Phillips in which Ware rushed more than 90% of all quarterback drops. But it also necessitates the ability to play the run, and the overall athleticism to play in space as a coverage defender.
Who in the 2013 draft fits that profile? Georgia’s Jarvis Jones has the attributes to play that position, as does LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. Jones is the better prospect at this point. Others who may transition effectively into that role are Oregon’s Dion Jordan, Florida State’s Tank Carradine, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Texas’ Alex Okafor, Illinois’ Michael Buchanan, and Auburn’s Corey Lemonier. It’s a process that takes time. Keep in mind that Ware only had 8 sacks as a rookie in 2005, and he started all 16 games.
Certainly in this era of multiple defensive fronts and coverages, there are many ways to align with different personnel groupings. This was by no means a complete and thorough breakdown of front alignments. Rather, it was an historical snapshot of the evolution of the “1-gap” 3-4, or more correctly, 4-3 with a more athletic linebacker in the role of defensive end. It’s a more adaptable and resourceful defense, and it puts a premium on one of the most difficult positions to find in the NFL draft: the edge pass rusher who can win one-on-one versus offensive tackles.” http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/cosell-3-4-4-3-concepts-more-personnel-163318715--nfl.html;_ylt=AhN4WmRR8dA.cPGfgRL9gJ9YYsp_;_ylu=X3oDMTE4NWRia245BG1pdANCbG9ncyBJbmRleARwb3MDMQRzZWMDTWVkaWFCbG9nSW5kZXg-;_ylg=X3oDMTFpMm9iMzh1BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANibG9nBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25z;_ylv=3