The NT vs. SOLB draft debate got me wondering what the biggest hole in our defense is.
I wanted to see an apples-to-apples comparison of all the 3-4 SOLBs in the league. All the attention gets paid to the flashy WOLBs generating the sack numbers. In fact you'll see that the two 3-4 SOLBs who made the 2011 Pro Bowl did so because of their sack numbers not because of their all-around defensive play.
The results really surprised me...
Stats don't always tell the whole story. For instance I don't think Matt Roth is a top-flight SOLB, he just had a flukey year up in Cleveland. Nor do I think that sacks are the ultimate measuring stick of a 3-4 SOLB. I want my SOLB to be in strong run support (tackles) and provide a decent pass rush (sacks) as well be able to cover (passes defended) (INT).
However Mike Vrabel currently does none those things. I think we're being blinded by the fact that the man has a couple of Super Bowl rings and played for Steelers and Patriots. Despite all of this "coach on the field" jibber-jabber he's ranks near the bottom in every statistical category. Despite starting all 16 games Vrabel was the only starting SOLB in football to not generate a single sack. He was a great snag when we got him as a package deal with Cassel. He gave a young defense a voice and an emotional leader. He was a player who had been around a winning culture and fit the 3-4 scheme, at a time when the Chiefs didn't have very many of either.
I thank Vrabel for his contributions to this team and wish him luck in the future. But we need to get this guy off the field, now. He's clearly out of gas. Rather than pursue the biggest body in the draft, I think we need to put a priority on this position and hold off on a 2-down nose tackle (we really do play a lot of nickel) until the third round when Kenrick Ellis or Jerrell Powe will be available.
Different schemes ask 3-4 SOLBs to do slightly different things so I'm not sure if Kerrigan or Ayers or anyone else is on the top of our draft board, but looking at this chart it's clear that we can't chance another year with a bad SOLB in our defense.