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NFL Players Who Must Change Positions Remain Effective

Ryan McCrystalFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 1, 2017

NFL Players Who Must Change Positions Remain Effective

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    Significant position changes are relatively rare in the NFL, but occasionally a switch can revive a player's career. 

    The following slideshow features five players who have struggled in recent years at their current position but have the skill set to excel in another role with their current team. 

    Each of these players is projected to remain at their current position, but a future shift could change the course of their career. 

     

    All advanced statistics provided by Pro Football Focus

Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins

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    When Jake Long went down with season-ending injury last season, the Dolphins shifted 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin over to left tackle. 

    Martin allowed 21 sacks, hits or hurries in fives games on the left side, the same number Long allowed in his 12 games. 

    Now that Long is in St. Louis, and the Dolphins have signed Tyson Clabo to play right tackle, it appears as though Martin will open the season protecting Ryan Tannehill's blind side. 

    While the Dolphins may not have a choice but to keep Martin on the left side for the short term, he lacks the athleticism to play the position and will eventually need to be moved back to the right side or even to guard.

Gabe Carimi, Chicago Bears

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    Just two seasons after the Bears selected offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has reported that Carimi is battling for a roster spot. 

    The Bears could do themselves and Carimi a favor by moving him from tackle, where he played in college and for the majority of his brief NFL career, inside to guard. 

    According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Carimi has earned a cumulative grade of -13.7 in his 14 games at right tackle, but posted a grade of 4.2 in his four games at right guard in 2012. 

    While a certain amount of subjectivity factors into the Pro Football Focus grading system, the dramatic difference between Carimi's performance at guard and tackle is certainly significant. 

    Carimi deserves the opportunity to compete with Matt Slauson and Kyle Long for one of the starting jobs at guard. 

Dunta Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs

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    At the age of 31, Dunta Robinson is well past his prime, and the Falcons were wise to part ways with the veteran cornerback this offseason. 

    After a flurry of offseason moves, including the signing of Robinson and Sean Smith, the Chiefs have a crowded secondary. Since Robinson isn't guaranteed a starting job at corner, it may be time for him to make the shift to safety. 

    Robinson's coverage skills have been declining in recent years. In the final three games of the 2012 season, including the playoffs, Robinson was targeted 17 times and allowed 14 receptions.

    While Robinson's man-coverage skills aren't what they once were, he has always been effective against the run and should be capable of making a smooth transition to free safety.

Derek Wolfe, Denver Broncos

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    Derek Wolfe served his purpose as the run-stuffing end opposite Elvis Dumervil in 2012, but with Dumervil gone, the Broncos need to improve their pass-rush. 

    In 2012, Wolfe recorded a sack, hit or pressure on just five percent of his pass-rush snaps, ranking dead last among 4-3 defensive ends with at least 200 pass-rush snaps. 

    Wolfe's skill set it better suited for the inside, where he has the size to stuff the run but also the athleticism to slip past slow-footed interior linemen and wreak havoc in the backfield. 

    Shifting Wolfe inside would also create an opportunity for fifth-round pick Quanterus Smith to establish himself as the Broncos pass-rush specialist on the outside.

Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Rey Maualuga has tortured Bengals fans with his raw talent and subpar performances for years, and just when they thought they were free of his disappointment, the Bengals re-signed the veteran linebacker. 

    The Bengals continue to rely heavily on Maualuga in pass coverage, and utilized him in that role on 52 percent of his snaps in 2012. In fact, Maualuga had more total coverage snaps than any defensive back on the Bengals last season. 

    Maualuga's skill set is better suited for the strong-side linebacker position in the 4-3 defense, due to the higher percentage of pass-rush snaps required, as opposed to pass-coverage snaps.

    Unfortunately, the offseason addition of James Harrison likely means the Bengals will stick with Maualuga on the inside for at least one more season.

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