Does the Signing of Aaron Curry Mean the Oakland Raiders Are Going to the 3-4?

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IOctober 14, 2011

Does the Signing of Aaron Curry Mean the Oakland Raiders Are Going to the 3-4?

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    Al Davis has done it again!

    I know he's no longer with us but the acquisition of former first-round pick Aaron Curry reeks of Davis—the deal had to be in progress before he died. Davis loved first-round picks that didn't work out with their original team—especially when they are physical freaks.

    Curry is a physical freak and now makes the Raiders defensive personnel even more 3-4 friendly. Defensive ends Matt Shaughnessy and Jarvis Moss are the Raiders only true 4-3 defensive lineman but they are injured.

    Shaughnessy doesn't appear to be coming back any time soon and Moss is a situational pass rusher even if he is playing by now. So I can't help but think that the acquisition of Curry may be the completion of the Raiders switching to a 3-4 in 2011.

    Turn the page to see how the Raiders defense has more of a 3-4 look to it.

Nose Tackle: Tommy Kelly

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    At 6'6", 320 pounds, Tommy Kelly is big enough to man the nose as it would take a double-team to keep him out of the backfield. When he first came to Raider Nation, the Raiders ran a 3-4 and he made the team undrafted as an end.

    Then of course, he bulked up a little in order to play defensive tackle as the Raiders have since switched to a 4-3. This would be interesting because Kelly is quick—running a 4.87 at the combine.

    That would liken him to a modern-day Reggie Kinlaw, who played nose tackle on both of the Raiders' '80s Super Bowl teams. 

Defensive End: Lamarr Houston

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    At 6'3", 305, Lamarr Houston was a steal in the 2010 draft as he fell to the second round for the Raiders. He fell because the rest of the league didn't know what to make of Houston as he was a defensive tackle in college.

    But Davis grabbed Houston and moved him to 4-3 base defensive end after seeing him run a 4.8 40-yard dash at the combine. He's also played some defensive tackle with the Raiders—subbing for an injured Seymour last year. 

    His size a speed make him the perfect tweener for 3-4 end.

Defensive End: Richard Seymour

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    Richard Seymour has to be considered the best defensive lineman of his generation. He puts a ton of heat on the quarterback (five sacks so far this year) and he's tough as nails against the run.

    He has the most experience as a 2-gap, 3-4 end as he won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots at the position. The transition would be seamless for him as he would be back home at 3-4 end.

    A player like Seymour should have two gaps instead of one.  

Inside Linebacker: Quentin Groves

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    At 6'3", 265 pounds, running a 4.4 40-yard dash, Quentin Groves is an ideal inside linebacker. Many would question making him an inside linebacker after just starting to get the hang of outside linebacker after starting out as a defensive end.

    But there really wouldn't be a transition as in a straight 4-3, the outside linebacker lines up a couple of feet over from where the inside linebacker lines up. Then in the 4-3 over, the weak-side linebacker (Groves' position) lines up in exact same spot  as an inside linebacker.

    The Raiders ran plenty of that against the Texans with a man over the center so Groves wouldn't be lost.

Outside Linebacker: Aaron Curry

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    Aaron Curry makes me think the Raiders are going to a 3-4 because he was a bust in Seattle due to his lack of pass coverage skills. He can work on that in Oakland but I think the reason why the Raiders got him was he sets the edge well against the run and gets after the quarterback.

    The Raiders usually get players and let them do what they do best.

    Curry would give the Raiders two guys that bring heat off the edge. 

Outside Linebacker: Kamerion Wimbley

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    Kamerion Wimbley is edge rusher No. 1 for the Raiders.

    He had 11 sacks as a rookie in Cleveland then fell off the next three years because opposing offenses game planned for him—knowing he was the only threat to the quarterback. He was then traded to Oakland where he lead the Raiders in sacks with nine in 2010.

    Wimbley has only one sack so far this year because John Marshall and his 4-3 elephant, blitzing scheme are now gone. He puts his hand in the ground on third down these days as that's his only opportunity to rush the passer.

    The Raiders would be allowing Wimbley to do what he does best—moving to a 3-4.

No. 1: Inside Linebacker Rolando McClain

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    I didn't rank the other guys but Rolando McClain is the No. 1 reason the Raiders would switch to a 3-4. The middle or inside linebacker is the player you truly build your defense around as that is what McClain was drafted for.

    He played in a 3-4, pro style defense under Nick Saban at Alabama and he knows the 3-4 like the back of his hand. McClain struggled his rookie year as he tried to transition from inside to middle linebacker.

    He has gotten better this year but has yet to consistently be in the right place. I liken this situation to that of Darren McFadden's going into last year—a supremely talented player that's caught in a system that doesn't fit him.

    Look what happened once the Raiders went to power blocking for McFadden!

    How about going to the 3-4 for McClain to get him playing up to his draft status?

Overview

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    Backup defensive tackle John Henderson is a huge man that would be great in rotation on the nose. Desmond Bryant is a backup defensive tackle that fits in perfectly as a 3-4 end at 6'5", 290 pounds. 

    The Raiders have had some 3-4 packages they've been working on since camp so it won't be too hard. I know defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is a 4-3 guy but cornerback coach Rod Woodson does—being a disciple of Legendary defensive coordinator Dick Labeau.

    The personnel is now there with first-round picks from 2010, (McClain) 2009, (Curry) 2006, (Wimbley) and 2001, (Seymour)! 

    I say they should at least consider mixing it in with such versatile personnel on defense. However, all of this means nothing if the Raiders simply move Curry or Wimbley to defensive end for the injured Shaughnessy.

    But I think using the 3-4 could make the Raiders defense dominant!

    They ran a 3-4 with every team that won a Super Bowl!