The Cleveland Browns need defensive line help due to converting to a 4-3 base defense. Could Malik McDowell be the help they need? Find out here.
The Cleveland Browns must remake their defensive line. With the switch to a 4-3-based defense (yes 3-4 vs. 4-3 does matter), the Browns must draft linemen to fit their new scheme.
The switch to 4-3 has its advantages.
The good news is that NCAA football is littered with 4-3 defenses, making the task of finding pro-ready players easier. Projecting a player is less risky when they can be scouted at the position they will be playing in the NFL.
Further good news is that last year the Browns drafted two outstanding collegiate 4-3 defensive ends in Carl Nassib and Emmanuel Ogbah. The Browns are also primed to take the best 4-3 defensive end in college football, Myles Garrett, first overall in the upcoming NFL draft.
But the real challenge for the 2017 Cleveland Browns will be figuring out who will play defensive tackle. In a 3-4 base, the only true defensive tackle on the team is a nose tackle. Most nose tackles are big, space-eating run stuffers who come off the field in pass-rush situations.
The key to any good 4-3 defense is an excellent 3-technique player. An ideal 3-technique player is quick off the ball and disruptive. He is the player most responsible for shutting down the inside rushing attack.
When Danny Shelton was drafted, there were concerns that his style of play was not conducive for a 3-4 scheme. He seemed to be a better fit as a 1 or 3-technique in a 4-3 defense, which is more good news for the Browns who are switching base defenses.
Shelton brings versatility to the defensive interior. He has the skill set to play both the 1-technique who shades the center and commands double teams. He also has the quickness and power to play a 3-technique.
Shelton’s presence means the Browns can draft the best 1 or 3-technique available and have Shelton cover the other spot. If the Browns can find another player with Shelton’s diversity, then the Browns front four could be absolutely dominant.
For now, the Browns need to focus on finding another defensive tackle in the draft to round out the switch to the 4-3 front.
One player who could fit the bill may be Michigan State’s Malik McDowell. But there are questions about his maturity and technique entering the NFL.