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Fallout from Saints change to 3-4 defense could be big

saints logoIt didn’t take Saints head coach Sean Payton long to make his first key offseason decision.

Payton’s  move to a 3-4 defense could hasten the departure of several current Saints.

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma could be out. Remember, Vilma became available in a trade from the New York Jets when the Jets switched to a 3-4 scheme. Vilma is a prototype middle linebacker who relies on being “free” to run to the football and make tackles.

Think about the Saints “Dome Patrol” defense. Inside linebackers Sam Mills and Vaughan Johnson were both stout against the run, and could take on guards at the point of attack. These two freed up outside linebackers Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling to rush the passer.

The 3-4 defense needs an anchor defensive tackle who can play the nose and hold up at the line of scrimmage. This is clearly not a strength of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. Ellis is a one gap tackle who relies on quickness to penetrate at the line of scrimmage.

Defensive end Will Smith could also be a scheme change casualty. Smith is 4-3 pass rusher who can get to the edge. He doesn’t project as a 3-4 end.

Two Saints who could clearly benefit from the change are defensive ends Junior Gallette and Martez Wilson.

The 3-4 is a great defense against the run, and it allows blitzers to come from all angles.

And, there are more and more 3-4 ends coming out for the NFL draft.

One player who could suddenly be in the conversation for the Saints in the first round is LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. He is clearly a 3-4 pass rusher. And, while Mingo suddenly fits, defensive end Sam Montgomery, a 4-3 edge rusher, does not.

The number one  pick in the draft could be a 3-4 edge rusher, Jarvis Jones of Georgia.

Sean Payton is a winner, because of his aggressive nature. It didn’t take long for Payton to make his first big offseason decision.