A Look at the Dolphins in a 4-3

When the Dolphins took Jared Odrick 28th overall in this year’s draft, many fans were left scratching their heads. When it was revealed that Mike Nolan was planning on shaking things up though, things started to make more sense.

According to reports, the Dolphins will no longer run a pure 3-4 scheme. Instead, when there are three down lineman, converted nose tackle Randy Starks will likely line up to the right or left of the center, contrary to the pure 3-4, which positions the nose directly over the center. This should allow Starks to excel in providing penetration and a interior pass rush.

Also, the new-look defense, is said to be more a hybrid. Meaning, we could see more 4-3 looks on occasion. But how exactly would this affect the defense? And who would line up where?

Click read more to see the Dolphins’ projected lineup in a 4-3 defense.

DE: Cameron Wake: The Earth-Wake may be the biggest beneficiary to running a 4-3 formation. We all know what Wake is capable of as a pass rusher, but he hasn’t been able to earn a starting position at outside linebacker yet, because of his struggles against the run and dropping back into coverage. As a defensive end though, he wouldn’t have to worry about dropping back into coverage, thus eliminating one of his weaknesses.

DT: Randy Starks: Starks would also be a great fit in the 4-3, as he would be allowed to move back to his prototypical position, which is a defensive tackle in a 4-3. Starks was easily one of the best 3-4 defensive ends last season, and in my opinion, could be one of the better 4-3 defensive tackles as well.

DT: Jared Odrick: The combination of Starks and Odrick at defensive tackle would have the potential to produce a dangerous interior pass rush, and would likely fair just as well against the run.

DE: Kendall Langford: At 295 pounds, Langford may seem a little big for a 4-3 defensive end, but actually, he played DE for Hampton in college, and they ran a 4-3. He obviously wouldn’t scare too many people coming of the edge as a pass rusher, but he would make it tough sledding for any offense trying to run to the strong side.

OLB: Koa Misi: Some would want to move Misi to defensive end, but in my opinion he’s slightly undersized for that role, and his strengths may even favor a 4-3 outside linebacker. Misi isn’t the most dominate pass rusher, but one of the biggest reasons Miami drafted him, is because he’s solid in coverage. 4-3 outside linebackers aren’t responsible for nearly as much pass rush production as 3-4 ones are, and they are asked to drop back into coverage often.

MLB: Channing Crowder: This is a tough call, because both Crowder and Dansby can play middle linebacker or outside linebacker in the 4-3. But because Crowder is really only good for stopping the run, and he was awful in coverage last season, I would say he’s less of a liability in the middle and he can focus on stuffing all runs between the tackles.

OLB: Karlos Dansby: Dansby has experience playing outside linebacker, has the coverage abilities to stick with most tight ends and backs, would have a bigger impact as a pass rusher than in the middle, and has the speed to truly contain the perimeter.

Still though, we have no idea how often the Dolphins will line up in a 4-3, or if they will do it at all. When I asked Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly, who has been present at most of the team’s offseason practices that have been open to the media, how often he expects the Dolphins to run the 4-3, he responded “maybe never,” despite reports of a move to more of a hybrid look. Nonetheless, the Dolphins appear to have the versatility to pull it off, but I guess we will have to wait and see what Mike Nolan has in store.

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