"You can never have too many pass rushers." - Ernie Accorsi.
The philosophy of stockpiling quality pass rushers became famous when Accorsi made that statement following the selection of Mathias Kiwanuka. The controversy surrounding the pick was not because Kiwanuka lacked talent, but instead about the position he played. With Pro Bowlers Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora as well as emerging super star Justin Tuck, it was hard to see where Kiwanuka would fit in.
Undeterred, the Giants GM made his selection and history has shown him to be correct.
Clint Sintim, from the University of Virginia, built his college career around rushing the passer. He developed a series of moves that allowed him to get to the quarterback with ease. Once again a debate raged on draft day following his selection.
As was the case with Kiwanuka, the debate was not whether Sintim was a good player, but instead about the type of system he played in at Virginia. Sintim was the pass rushing OLB in the Cavaliers' 3-4 defense. The Giants, on the other hand, run a 4-3 defense that relies on the defensive line to pressure the quarterback.
One person who is not worried about Sintim's transition is his former coach Al Groh.
“In the 3-4 defense, on regular downs, the outside linebackers are the primary pass rushers," Groh said. “On third down when we went to nickel and dime fronts, he became the equivalent to a defensive end on the outside. He’s done it both ways. He’s had a lot of his sacks as a first and second down rusher out of the regular 3-4 defense but he’s got a good awareness of how to rush the passer. He’s going to have a pretty good foundation. He’ll have a lot of things to learn about rushing in the NFL, but he’ll have a good foundation to start with.”
The early plan is for Sintim to see some specialized situations this season and not play every down. Mostly he will be on the field to rush the passer but could play himself into the starting SLB position with a solid training camp. With Kiwanuka staying put as the 3rd DE, an opening for a player of similar skills was created among the linebackers. That is where Sintim will likely step in.
When Kiwanuka was a LB, he rarely played that position on passing downs. Instead he would move up to the line and put his hand in the grass to rush the passer or he would just move to the sideline.
Sintim will not be asked to provide much in terms of pass coverage or run stuffing in his first season, but he will be asked to show off some of the moves he learned to bring down some of the shifty QBs that play in the NFC East.
In a couple seasons, Sintim will likely develop into a very solid SLB. Fortunately for him, and the Giants, there is no rush for his development. With a tremendous group of talented defenders around him, he will only be asked to do what he does best: kill the QB.