With the New York Football Giants and 3-4 defensive guru Romeo Crennel rumored to be mutually interested in discussing the Giants vacant defensive coordinator post, it begs the question: how well do the Giants current defensive front seven would translate to a 3-4 defense?
The following slideshow will provide individual assessments of how the current Giants front seven would fare in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Osi Umenyiora would project as a outside Linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Even coming off major knee surgery Umenyiora remained the Giants most athletic defensive lineman. With smooth, explosive hips, excellent speed and first step quickness Umenyiora would make an excellent 3-4 starting OLB.
His main focus should be on rushing the passer, not dropping into coverage. If the Giants were to get creative with Umenyiora and find ways to match him up against tight ends or running backs similar to what Dallas does with DeMarcus Ware the Giants will have a tremendous weapon.
The only caveat is Umenyiora's attitude. If he buys into the new scheme, he should be deadly. But if he doesn't, he can be a surly malcontent whose play will suffer.
Justin Tuck would project as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. If Tuck was asked to be more of a penetrating 3-4 end, utilized in the same way as the 49ers Justin Smith, Tuck would be a monster.
Traditional 3-4 ends are asked to occupy blockers, not shoot gaps. Tuck is capable of this because of his amazing size and strength, but it would be a waste of his talent if it was all he is asked to do.
Instead, if he was free to use his acceleration and speed to shoot gaps on occasion double team or no Tuck is going to win that battle against a guard.
Mathias Kiwanuka would enjoy the easiest learning curve converting to a 3-4 outside linebacker.
When he was drafted by the Giants, they attempted to make him a strong side linebacker in a 4-3 due to his athletic skill set. In a 3-4, Mathias would start opposite Umenyiora in the base and he would, more often than Umenyiora at least, drop into coverage on a semi-regular basis.
Not to say Kiwi wouldn't rush the passer though as Kiwanuka isn't great in coverage, but his speed, height and length could make him a potential pest in the coverage game. Equally steady against the run, Kiwanuka would have no issue playing in a two point stance.
Chris Canty would project as the starting end in the fictional Giants 3-4 opposite Tuck. Canty played end in a 3-4 in college at Virginia and during his first years in the pros with the Cowboys. Given Canty's 3-4 experience and that he barely played in the Giants 4-3, he wouldn't have a problem adjusting.
Antonio Pierce does not project as a 3-4 inside linebacker. He lacks the size to effectively take on offensive lineman in the phone booth or shed blockers at the point of attack. If the Giants implement a 3-4, Pierce would have to be released.
If the Giants roster were not to change heading into next season and a 3-4 was implemented Cofield would project as the starting nose tackle. Cofield lacks the traditional size of a nose tackle and would be slightly overmatched.
If a nose tackle is found, Cofield would then be projected as a backup end who would rotate with Canty and Tuck to keep them fresh. Strictly a player to be used against the run, Cofield has the size, foot quickness, motor and team attitude needed to adjust to any scheme.
Clint Sintim had little impact as a rookie in the Giants 4-3. In college he was a fantastic traditional 3-4 OLB and if the Giants convert to a 3-4 Sintim would be right at home back at OLB. His role would be to come off the bench and rotate with Kiwanuka and Umenyiora to keep a fresh pass rush throughout the game.
Michael Boley lacks the size inherent to a 3-4 inside linebacker and has long been considered more of a finesse coverage 4-3 weakside linebacker. Despite the large contract he signed as a free agent a year ago, if the Giants were to convert to a 3-4 they would have to release him as he would have no position to play.
Aside from his amazing ability to block field goals Robbins ability to play took a huge tumble this past season. As an upcoming free agent well over 30 the truth is that even if the Giants did not convert to a 3-4 Robbins would be back.
Undersized and coming off a major knee injury the once promising Alford would have little to no role with the Giants in a 3-4. Maybe he would be able to become a situational pass rusher at end, but really that would be the only possible contribution given his skill set and small size.
Goff would make an ok backup as a inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Goff lacks the size, strength or toughness to meet offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage head on consistently and not be overwhelmed.