Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Monday, March 18, 2013
Is Oakland becoming a 3-4 defense?

By Bill Williamson

The Oakland Raiders’ signing of Kevin Burnett may be a major hint that the team will, at the very least, use some 3-4 alignments this season.

Burnett is a 3-4 linebacker, and the team also has signed Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava. The Raiders like second-year linebacker Miles Burris, who started as a rookie. I doubt the team plans to give Burris less playing time, so there’s reason to believe all four of these linebackers will have a starting role.

The versatile Lamarr Houston could be a nice 3-4 defensive end. The team signed 335-pound Pat Sims and he could be strong anchor at nose tackle. Perhaps Tommy Kelly could be kept at a reduced price to play some nose tackle as well.

Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd could be a target for Oakland with the No. 3 pick, and scouts think he is athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 defense, so that option could still be on the table if Oakland does become a 3-4 team. Perhaps a pass-rusher like Jarvis Jones of Georgia could be looked at as well.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen will likely say that his defense will be multiple and they will use both 3-4 and 4-3, but the truth is, every team has a base defense. While a team can be multiple, it will have a look that is more prevalent than the other.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. says he thinks this could be the time to make a switch because the Raiders are starting in the front seven.

“If the coaches prefer the 3-4, this is a fine time to switch, but I don’t see anyone resembling a 3-4 outside linebacker or pure nose tackle on the roster,” Williamson said. “I do love Houston as a 3-4 defensive end, though.”

If Oakland moves to a 3-4, three AFC West would have three teams to use a 3-4 defense. Kansas City and San Diego also run a 3-4.