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Thursday, February 4, 2010
Maybin should love Buffalo's switch to 3-4

By Tim Graham

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Buffalo Bills transition to a 3-4 defense couldn't have been better news for pass-rusher Aaron Maybin.

Last year's 11th overall draft choice struggled through an awful rookie season as a 4-3 defensive end. Maybin's undetectable performances frustrated a fan base that hoped for an impact player and could rattle off a dozen names the Bills could've had instead.

Aaron Maybin
The Bills calculated that Aaron Maybin made only 18 tackles during his rookie season.
The Bills on Thursday announced they will switch to a 3-4 with new defensive coordinate George Edwards. That would move Maybin to outside linebacker.

Maybin's mentor, former Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, had an immediate reaction to the news.

"Love it! I love it!" said Arrington, who has been spending time on Radio Row in the Super Bowl media center. "For Aaron, I think it's the perfect defensive scheme. He's a bookend. He's not a true, run-stop defensive end, where you keep him out there, going head-to-head-to-head-to-head with those 300-pound guys every single play.

"You give him more of an opportunity to be successful if you get him in positions where he's in space, getting the offensive linemen in an uncomfortable situation with having to deal with him in open space."

Maybin was a middle-schooler in Ellicott City, Md., when he met Arrington at a community event staged by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Arrington and Maybin hit it off. Their bond became stronger when Maybin decided to attend Penn State, Arrington's alma mater.

Arrington also knows Edwards well. Edwards was the Redskins' assistant defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2002 and took over all of the coordinating duties in 2003. Arrington went to the Pro Bowl each of those seasons.

"I think George Edwards being signed is an awesome deal," Arrington said.

Maybin was overmatched as a rookie. He was a one-year starter at defensive end for Penn State and entered the draft after his junior season. He bulked up once he joined the Bills, but never looked right in his uniform.

Maybin didn't start a game for a team that went into the season desperate for an improved pass rush. Based on stats calculated by the Bills' coaching staff, Maybin made 18 tackles, two for losses. He had zero sacks and no forced fumbles.

"The more Aaron Maybin has a chance to develop and mature mentally and physically and emotionally, he's going to be a special player in this league," Arrington said. "I just hope that he gets a fair opportunity to get to that point."

A 3-4 outside linebacker can be sleeker than a 4-3 defensive end. That will allow Maybin to carry a more natural weight on his 6-foot-4 frame and "be himself," Arrington said. "He doesn't have to be out of his character for that position."

Maybin must learn how to work out of a two-point stance and master some basic pass coverages.

"I think he's athletic enough to adapt and adjust," Arrington said. "You've got to figure that as a bookend he's going to drop into the hook, into the curl and he may have the flat. They may, once they see how he develops, have him carry routes.

"But for the most part they're going to have him in certain drop zones anyway. He should be able to adjust to that."