The 3-4 defense is the "in" thing in the NFL again; it's chic right now. And with this revolution, comes the need for a very specific type of player, that is not needed, and has no use, in a 4-3 defense.
This position is the Outside Rushing Linebacker. The OLBs in a 3-4 have to be big (6'2+), strong (260+ lbs.), and fast. Shawne Merriman is a perfect example—he is 6'4, 270 pounds. People who are 260 pounds and super-athletic are just a rare breed; they are few and far between.
Everette Brown is a speed rusher off the end. He has an excellent first step and as a result often gets a leg-up immediately on the OT. He also tends to anticipate the snap very well, which adds to his already quick first movement.
Brown also has a very powerful lower body. He drives his legs when locked on and can push the pocket sometimes as a result. His upper body isn't as strong and cannot rip off of blocks as a result. He doesn't use his hands very well at all and this adds to him not being able to come off of blocks.
If he gets stacked, he does not show the ability to shed in order to make the tackle.
Has very good secondary moves when rushing the passer. After starting wide and getting the OT off balance, he can simply redirect or spin back to the inside very effectively.
Brian Orakpo is also known for his speed rush, although he does not appear to be quite as quick bending the corner as Brown is. His snap anticipation is good, but not elite.
Orakpo has an outstandingly strong upper body, and uses very good hand placement in order to keep blockers off of his pads. This allows him to stack and shed to make the tackle. He can stand to bulk up his lower body, as he cannot generate a bull rush all that well.
Like Brown, Orakpo gets most of his sack production from redirecting and twisting back inside after getting the OT off balance with the speed rush to the outside. He is very good at this, and finds the football quickly after getting past the OT.
Stats: Well just by looking at the game tape and scouting reports above, they are very similar players, and essentially even. To decide who actually is the winner, I had to delve a little deeper and do some statistical research.
When looking at consistency, Both Brown and Orakpo each averaged exactly one sack per game last year. Of Brown's 13 games, he only had sacks in six of them, 46 percent. Orakpo had sacks in 70 percent of the games he played in. Brown also only had one game away from home last year in which he recorded a sack, while Orakpo had sacks in 50 percent of his road games.
You also look at when the player stepped up to the plate when his team needed him. Brown didn't record a sack in a single game last year that was decided by seven points or less. Orakpo, however, recorded sacks in all but one of these games.
This tells you that when the pressure is on, when it counts the most, Orakpo will step up and make the play. These sacks in close games are often times what turns the game in your favor so you can win. These are huge stats that don't necessarily garner a whole lot of attention, and they should.
If we extend these stats out a little bit (to get more information, which makes the statistics more accurate) to games which were decided by 10 points or less:
Of the six games that were decided by 10 or less that Brown played in, he had one game with a sack—17 percent.Of the 4 games that were decided by 10 or less that Orakpo played in, he had three games with sacks—75 percent.
Conclusion: Statistics do not lie folks, and they are telling the story right now. Orakpo wins out on these hands down.
In the NFL, when everybody is big, strong, and fast, its the intangibles that make great players. Orakpo clearly has these intangibles and is the winner in this one.