NEW YORK — Bill Parcells taught me a long time ago how to transition a roster from one defensive scheme to another. When Parcells originally went to Dallas, he didn’t want to play the 4-3, but it took him two years to find the right players and move to the 3-4.
The Broncos and Texans, both of whom will run new schemes next season, realize they can immediately make the move because this is a great draft for defense. Teams won’t be successful with a scheme change without finding the right players, and the Broncos and Texans are learning from the mistakes of teams that failed at it.
By adding a few free agents to fill the holes after the draft, I think you’ll see the Broncos and Texans successfully make the transition in 2011.
Four of Denver’s first five picks were defensive players, and when your head coach is a defensive guy like John Fox, the process will happen faster. The front seven is most critical to this change. Von Miller will play on the weak side for the Broncos, might record double-digit sacks and could see time on the same side as Elvis Dumervil in fire-zone looks. Rahim Moore was the best safety on the board and will be the heir apparent to Brian Dawkins. Denver also grabbed LB Nate Irving in Round 3 and S Quinton Carter in Round 4.
The Texans, who have the most radical changeover, used their first four picks on defensive players who can switch to new coordinator Wade Phillips‘ 3-4. I still believe they need another nose tackle to play in a rotation with Shaun Cody if they don’t take one later in the draft.
Second-round pick Brooks Reed fits perfectly as the strong-side outside linebacker who can play the run, drop into coverage and rush the passer. He’s a poor man’s Clay Matthews. J.J. Watt, to me, is the best 5-technique end in the draft and is powerful enough to hold up the run opposite Mario Williams. I admire the Texans for taking CB Brandon Harris, whom I like and can help with their biggest issue.